Cold Steep Tea Health Benefits
By kborowsky September 7th, 2018
Cold Steeping Tea
Think about the way that you normally make your teas… you heat the water to somewhere between 180 and 212 degrees, depending on the type of tea and the desired strength, and then you steep the leaves in the water for 2-7 minutes, again accounting for the type of tea and the desired strength.
While there is nothing at all wrong with this method, there are potential problems that can arise from what is called a hot steep of tea; flavonoids and catechins can be lost, oversteeping could occur, and the tea can become too astringent for taste if the water is too hot for the tea being made.
Again, hot steeping of tea has been done for literally thousands of years, so there is nothing wrong with this method, but there is another method that can be used if you have the time and patience.
The method in question would be a cold brew of the tea, which modern studies (Venditti, Bacchetti, Tiano, Carloni, Greci, & Damiani, 2010) indicate has some significant benefits over hot steeping of tea.
First off, it is probably important to know how to cold brew tea. If you are reading this, we can safely assume that you know how to do a hot steep.
To cold brew tea, you need a few things, which won’t sound much different than what you require for your standard hot steep. You will need:
High Quality Loose-Leaf Teas
A Strainer, Infuser, Tea Ball, or Filter Bag
A Jar, Iced Tea Maker, or Something Else to Steep the Teas in
A Refrigerator or Cooler
To start, you will typically want to use more tea for a cold brew tea than you would for a hot steep. A general rule would be to use 4-8 teaspoons of tea to the quart of water, depending on the type of tea used and the desired strength of the tea. It is important to give the tea a quick rinse in case there are any contaminants on it. Be sure to use cold water for this!
Place your tea in the container either loose or in a bag or infuser, just make sure that there is enough room for the proper expansion of the tea leaves so that the flavor and the phytochemicals have the room to exit the leaves and get into your brew.
Add cold water to the container right up to the top. Cover the container and place it in the fridge for 8-12 hours.
Once the tea is removed from the fridge, either strain the tea or remove the existing strainer, serve, and enjoy!
What to Expect
The flavor of cold brew tea is going to be significantly lighter than that with your hot brew. There is also going to be only about half of the caffeine in a cold brew, meaning that those of us that wish to avoid caffeine can do so more effectively by cold steeping teas.
For many of us, we view the removal of caffeine from our diet as a great health benefit. While this is true if you care consuming too much caffeine (like most Americans), there are other health benefits that come along with the practice of the cold brew.
The real health benefit list for cold brewing teas is related to the release of the phytochemicals that are in tea. These are flavonoids, catechins, anti-oxidants, and other naturally occurring chemicals that are releases when the water passes through the tea leaves. The health benefit is this: while the caffeine that is drawn out is halved, the phytochemicals that are actually doubled!
What does this mean for you?
The reason that many of us drink tea is for the health benefits, and reducing the caffeine level while increasing the amount of good natural chemicals is a solid health benefit! What is also interesting is that the health benefits of the cold brew seem to increase as the tea itself lightens. For example, white teas release more phytochemcials than green tea, which releases more than black tea, which releases yet more than some of the very heavy black teas.
The teas you are going to want to cold brew are likely to be the lighter teas. With a lower tannic quality and a smooth astringency, the taste will be better as well as the health benefits being increased. While you can cold brew darker and heavier teas, the health benefits won’t be as high, and the taste might not be as you expect.
The best thing you can do is to get some tea and try this out, see what you like! If you want to try a great number of selections, try a small amount of water and a sample to see what it is that you will like to try a larger batch of!