Did you know that there are multiple different ways of making tea? There’s the classic way of making tea using tea bags with hot water, but recently there is a trend with cold brewing tea similar to how cold brew coffee is made. In this article, we will compare and contrast making tea using cold brew tea bags and with regular tea bags.
Making Tea With Hot Water
Tea traditionally is made by combining loose tea leaves with hot water, usually close to boiling. Most people opt for prepackaged tea bags as they provide the most convenience. There are different optimal temperatures for the water depending on the type of tea leaves that are used. Be careful not to burn your tea leaves as the flavor can become very bitter and taste charred as a result.
Cold Brewing Tea
To make iced tea by cold brewing, the tea leaves you simply need to combine the tea leaves with cold water. The snag with this method is the amount of time it takes to brew the tea. After combining the tea with cold water, you will need to keep the water cold for the duration of time until the tea is done brewing. The average brew time for cold brew tea is around 15 hours. The longer you brew it, the more you enable the extraction process.
The Extraction Process
Whenever you are making tea or coffee, you are actually performing a chemical extraction, extracting small molecules out of a solid substance. With tea, our goal is to have a balanced extraction of caffeine, tannins, and antioxidants. If the water being used is too hot, it will end up burning the tea leaves and will extract more bitter flavors that we want to avoid. If the water is too cold and doesn’t have adequate time for the extraction process the tea will end up tasting like water as not enough of the flavor profile has been extracted from the tea leaves.
Regular Tea Bags
These are the everyday, ordinary tea bags that you see at the store. They come prepackaged with a set amount of tea leaves that are the company’s recommended amount of tea to brew with 8oz of hot water. These products will vary in how much tea is packaged based on the company that is providing the product.
Cold Brew Tea Bags
Cold Brew tea bags are a new product packaged specifically for making cold brew iced tea with. They are packaged with precisely the right amount of tea leaves to ensure the tea ends up tasting strong enough, but not overpowering. One of the difficulties with making cold brew tea is knowing the right amount of tea to use, so it’s very convenient that there are now products that prepackage the right amount for us.
What’s the Difference
Now that we’ve discussed the different methods and different products available let’s talk about the methods of making the tea. One method uses hot water at near boiling temperatures, which results in optimal extraction of caffeine, anti-oxidants, and tannins. While cold brewing is a more gentle extraction method. It’s less effective at extracting caffeine and tannins and needs to brew for a long time, but as a result, the flavor profile tends to be more subtle, and it’s easier to enjoy the full flavor profile of the tea leaves.
What Tea To Use and How To Make It
As mentioned before, there are many different types of teas and the exact details on how to most effectively brew tea change based on the type of tea. When making hot tea, the advised temperature ranges for different tea types are as follows: white tea should be brewed between 149-158 degrees F, Green tea should be brewed between 167-176 degrees F, Black tea and Herbal teas should be brewed at around 210 degrees F or as close to boiling temperature as possible.
When cold brewing your tea though, you don’t use hot water. Instead what changes with the type of tea is how long the tea is brewed for. For cold brewing, it follows the same trend with the temperature ranges, except the amount of time we spend brewing the tea increases. White tea should be brewed for 6 to 8 hours. Green tea should be brewed for 7-9 hours. Black and herbal teas should be brewed for 9-12 hours. The longer you brew them for, the stronger the tea will taste.