As the hot wind of summer slowly started to brush meadow along the Elbe, we received more and more customers asking about tea for summer or cold-brewed tea. My answer always starts with Japanese Green Tea and moves to the conclusion that all tea can be brewed cold.
It is not a tradition in China to brew tea with cold water. No matter how hot the weather gets, people always prepare tea with boiling water. However, cold brew is starting to get popular there in recent years, and I can see why. Cold-brewed tea can be so refreshing and give quite a different aroma, tastes and mouthfeel. It is a nice new trend that brings a different dimension to tea culture for us to explore.
When people ask for recommendations of tea for cold brew, Japanese green tea is always the first thing that pops into my mind. As I grew up in Zhejiang Province, Xihu Longjing is the tea in our family at all times; being so used to Chinese green tea, I am very fond of the freshness, fruitiness (mostly summer melons) and subtle floweriness in green tea. While traditionally brewed Japanese green tea usually is too rich in Umami and a little heavy for my taste, the cold-brewed Japanese green is richer in the freshness, fruitiness and savoriness than most other green tea that I know. Cold brew brings out the sweetness of Japanese green tea, which when traditionally brewed is obscured by the umami savoriness that is more salty than sweet. It is also much quicker to cold-brew Japanese green tea, due to the normally stronger flavors and more broken leaves. If we need 2 hours for Chinese green tea to be infused in cold water to have good tastes, it takes Japanese green only 1 hour.
However, the preference of Japanese green for cold brew over other green tea is personal in the same way that all tastes are personal. Some of my friends and colleagues prefer Chinese green tea for its pure and clear freshness and nuttiness. They certainly do not mind waiting an extra 1 hour for it.
We can also let tea infuse overnight in the fridge for an even more refreshing result.
The amount of tea leaves I recommend is the same amount you use for hot brewing in the western style, which is about 8 per Litre of water. It should be brewed with water of either room temperature for 1-2 hours or refrigerate overnight. Most tea do not get bitter but only richer in tastes when brewed with cold water, so it depends on your taste to decide if you want to brew longer or not.
When you decide it is well brewed enough, filter tea into the bottle or other container for easier drinking and for being on the way with you.
Barley and Buckwheat tea for summer
In fact, one can cold brew any tea; it depends on personal tastes as to which tea to choose for summer. Green tea and green Oolong are the most refreshing ones, but black tea, white
tea, herbal tea and some grain teas are also good options. Personally I do not like cold-brewed Pu Erh Tea. Maybe it is because the Cha Qi is such an integral part of Pu Erh Tea that without it Pu Erh tea is just dead, and cold brew does not bring out the Cha Qi at all. As mentioned above, most tea can be infused with cold water, and I would like to recommend especially Barley tea and Buckwheat Tea, as these are two traditional teas in South Korea for all year around and typical summer tea in Japan.
In South Korea, Buckwheat and barley tea are consumed all year round. It is normally cooked in a big kettle and let cooled down before being placed in the fridge for daily consumption. In Japan, these two teas are first hot brewed and then refridged after cooling down, but they are mostly summer drinks. My Japanese friends also let both tea infuse directly in water with room temperature for a couple of hours and refrigerate them for a day or overnight. The amount of both grain teas to use is about 25g per Litre.
The taste of Barley tea is roasty and nutty. Actually it is consumed as caffeine-free coffee in Italy and as Malzcaffee in Germany. Buckwheat tea has a rich buttery, nutty and bready taste.
A Tip for cold brewing tea:
take more broken leaves or even tea dusts than whole leaves. Usually crushed leaves or tea dusts make bitter and astringent tea, but when cold brewed, they produce richer tastes, thicker tea body and it takes less brewing time.
Recommendations of Teewald Tea for cold brew:
- Shibushi Gyokuro Saemidori
- Kirishima Gyokuro Saemidori
- Shincha Saemidori
- Sencha Yutakamidori
- Kagoshima Shincha Asanoka
- Old Bush Yunnan Dianhong (very good!!!)
- Yakushima Koucha
- Wild Rosy Lapsang
- Seiden Tay Con Linh
- Fuding Silver Needle,
- Pai Mu Tan (fresh harvest)
- Formosa Dongding Oolong
- Formosa Four Season Oolong
- Gaba Oolong
- Superior Tie Guan Yin
Pu Erh: so far I have not found a cold-brewed Pu Erh tea that tastes good Herbal Tea: Lemon Verbena