I’m always sampling new teas. Some of the black teas, oolongs, and puerhs have been recommended to brew cold in addition to the traditional hot brew method, so I thought I’d give it a try.
If I’ve made you scratch your head and say, “What’s a cold brew, and how is it different than a hot brew?” here’s a quick tutorial.
Cold brewing is very simple. You portion out the same amount of tea you would use to brew a hot cup. But instead of the hot water, add the coldest water you can and put it in the refrigerator to “brew”.
There are two big differences between a hot brew and a cold brew using black, oolong, or puerh tea. The steeping time for a cold brew is quite lengthy, and by lengthy, I mean between 4 and 24 HOURS, versus the hot brew method, which would only take between 3 and 5 MINUTES. The flavor profile is also very different. I’ll explain that more below.
I randomly selected three teas to try as cold brews. I chose Organic French Breakfast, Almond Shortbread Puerh, and Scottish Breakfast Black. I added 2 teaspoons of tea to 16 ounces of cold water and refrigerated the tea to “brew”.
I taste-tested the teas at the 4-hour mark. All the teas were flavorful, with the Almond Shortbread Puerh having the most flavor at that point, but not nearly as much as you would have tasted in a hot 3-5 minute brew.
At the 8-hour mark, the flavor had increased in all teas.
I sampled again at the 12-hour point. There wasn’t much difference in taste from the 8-hour sampling.
My final tasting was at 24 hours when the Organic French Breakfast and Scottish Breakfast Black had reached what I would call “full brew”. The Almond Shortbread Puerh was already done after 8 hours, in my opinion.
The flavor of the fully cold brewed teas was interesting.
The Almond Shortbread Puerh tasted very similar to its hot brewed counterpart. The Organic French Breakfast tasted quite different from the hot version, and the Scottish Breakfast Black tasted like a regular black iced tea. All of them were very smooth with no “bite” because no tannins were released in the brewing process.
So, would I serve these 3 teas as cold brews?
I definitely prefer the Almond Shortbread Puerh and Organic French Breakfast brewed hot. The Scottish Breakfast Black is good as a cold brew, just not quite as robust as the hot version, but you could easily serve it as an iced tea and love it.
I liked doing this experiment and would encourage you to try some of your favorites as cold brews and see what you think. You may be pleasantly surprised and discover a new way to enjoy your favorite teas, especially in summer.