After last week’s article on cold brewing black, oolong, and Puerh teas, I fielded many questions about whether and how to cold brew herbal teas. At this point, I’d like to clarify — so that we’re all on the same page — that herbal tea is any tea or tisane beverage that does not come from the tea plant Camellia Sinensis.
So now, onto my thoughts on cold brewing herbal teas. There are two views on this: yes, you can and no, you shouldn’t. I’m not trying to be funny, but if you smiled and thought, “Yep, that cleared it right up,” let me explain.
I prefer to brew all herbals with boiling water. If I want to convert them to iced teas, I chill them down in the fridge and then pour them over ice. Many of my herbal teas work well, both hot and cold.
So why not cold brew them? I have two reasons.
Number one is a safety issue. If you brew black, oolong, green, or white teas, they’ve already undergone a heat process that eliminates bacteria and/or contamination. Over the years, there have been documented cases of salmonella-related food poisoning with cold brewed herbal teas, which is why I brew my herbal teas with boiling water.
Number two is flavor. I think steeping herbal teas in hot water releases their flavors, giving you a much richer, fuller-bodied cup of tea. Herbal teas have been used for years to help with health issues. By steeping them in boiling water, you can help to extract these properties much more effectively than cold brewing.
These are my personal thoughts. You can decide which method is best for you because many people around the globe cold brew their herbal teas without any issues. I choose to err on the side of caution.
One of my favorite herbal teas that I enjoy hot and cold is Evening on the Bayou. It’s caffeine-free and casual with a chamomile base combining sweet spearmint, vanilla, and other tantalizing flavors. It makes my taste buds happy. I brew a cup and immediately rebrew the leaves to make a second cup that I refrigerate for a cold brew the next day. It’s a twofer.
Chamomile is another excellent herbal tea you can brew hot but also enjoy as an iced tea. Gentle and soothing. Chamomile can be traced back to ancient Egypt. It has a cool bit of trivia: the word chamomile comes from Greek and can be translated as “earth apple.”
Here’s to enjoying our herbal teas, both hot and cold,