Warm weather’s a comin’, which means it’s getting close to iced tea season. I have been experimenting away with different techniques and solutions to typical iced tea problems, feeling vaguely like a mad scientist’s and a bartender’s lovechild. May I introduce to you the cold steeping technique?
Cold steeping of tea is possibly one of the easiest ways to make iced tea because it’s forgiving in the way that hot steeping could never be. Think “You steeped your green tea for twenty seconds too long? Oops, well, I guess this steep is going to taste flat and bitter now. Too bad.” VS “Oh, you steeped your Darjeeling for two hours too long? That’s alright! It is no problem, man, it’ll still taste great.” (And I’m speaking from experience on both of those fronts.)
Cold steeping is something that you can do right now at home if you have:
- A glass
- A strainer
- A winning attitude
So, let’s get started!
Measure out the correct proportions of tea. I have found that 1.5x the amount of tea you use for hot steeping is a good amount, though if you are using bagged tea, I have no doubt that two bags instead of one would do just fine, with the possibility of adjusting your steeping time a bit. I am using some second flush Darjeeling that I got from Capital Tea (Highly recommended, dealer, as a side note). Usually I use two grams for this particular tea, so I’ll be using three grams for my cold steep.
Measure out the desired amount of cool water. I am only going to make a single serving of this tea, so I’m going to be using 8oz of water, but you can adjust your proportions if you want to make a pitcher of iced tea to keep on hand. The 1.5x proportion is true for any amount, so the proportion is conveniently to scale.
Add the leaves to the water. I’m sure there is debate to whether you should add the leaves before or after the water, but I chose to do after. Mostly because I forgot to do it the other way. Huh. You want the leaves relatively immersed in the water, so feel free to stir them up a bit if your heart so desires.
Stick in the fridge and wait. I left mine for nine and a half hours before it was ready for consumption. Depending on the tea, it can be more or it can be less. My recommendation would be to check on it every hour or so, after the initial three hours. You can taste if you are unsure. Once the initial “test” is done, though, you’re golden!
Strain and enjoy your fruits of labour. Cold steeping brings out an entirely different flavour profile, which I found astounding. For instance, the tea that I have is a black tea, but it had virtually no astringency, which is almost unheard of in black teas. Cold brewing produces a smoother, cooler iced tea than a lot of other methods, and it is a great new way to taste different flavours in a tea you are used to. Not to mention, the colour of the liquor is shiny in a way I never thought possible. The pictures seriously do not do its justice.
(Forgot to take a picture of this one before I drank it. Whoops.)