It’s finally getting warmer outside, and a perfect drink to cool down is a frosty glass of iced tea. Plus, in addition to being refreshing and delicious, studies show if you drink tea regularly, you may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes, have healthier teeth and gums and stronger bones. How? Tea is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which are most potent when tea is freshly brewed. Another benefit of brewing your own iced tea? When you make your own iced tea at home instead of using a powdered mix or buying it bottled or from a fast-food restaurant or coffee shop, you’ll save money. You can control the calories by limiting how much sweetener you add! So, here is the Tips-On-Tea guide to the perfect cold brew!
Firstly, use the freshest ingredient you can find.
One of the most important, if not the most, factor in brewing the perfect cold brew is ensuring that you use the freshest ingredients. If you are brewing a herbal infusion, try to look for products that contain fresh, organic herbs that not only taste great but are also great for your body.
Tips-on-Tea tip: For added benefits, look for products that are certified USDA Organic
If you are brewing tea, look for fresh tea at all times! Tea made in the traditional, artisanal way, also known as the orthodox method, retains the sophistication that natural soil, and climatic factors induce.
Secondly, start with spring or filtered tap water.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when brewing a cuppa is using mineral water. Mineral water contains too many minerals that can create off-flavors when they come in contact with compounds in the tea leaves, and mineral-free distilled water produces a flat-tasting brew. Most of us are guilty of looking at the kettle, seeing there is some old, used water in there and re-boiling. Try your hardest not to do this. If you keep re-boiling the water in the kettle it loses all of its oxygen and then you are left with a really flat cup of tea. Therefore, it is extremely critical that you use spring or filtered tap water.
Thirdly, turn the heat up.
Use boiling water (212°F) to brew black, herbal and darker-colored oolong teas. But use cooler water (170° to 180°F) to brew herbal, green, white and lighter oolongs teas. If you brew teas that require a cooler temperature with boiling water, it can result in bitter or astringent flavors. So do please pay close attention to the brewing instructions on the back of your tea packaging.
Fourthly, use just enough tea.
The general rule of thumb is to use one tea bag per person. Therefore, ensure that you only use the exact number of tea bags based on the number of people you will be serving. If you want to make iced tea and don’t have time for the tea to cool down, brew it double-strength to compensate for the resulting water from melting ice cubes. Or cool it to room temperature and refrigerate until cold.
Fifthly, steep it just right.
Steep long enough to release the flavours, however not too long in which case that tannins and other bitter tasting compounds dominate. Heartier teas, like black teas and darker oolongs, should steep for 3 to 5 minutes, while herbal, green, white and lighter oolong teas need just 2 to 3 minutes. Herbal teas and infusions have fewer tannins, so there’s less risk of over steeping!
Sixthly, ice it up!
Once you have your tea all brewed and ready, the exciting part begins! Chill it in the refrigerator or if you are in a hurry, use ice cubes. However as mentioned earlier, if you do use ice cubes make sure you consider the amount of tea you use to prevent the tea from being watered down when the ice cubes melt.
Tipson’s Special Tip: If you want to keep a batch of cold tea for later in your refrigerator, add a little lemon juice. The citric acid and vitamin C in that squeeze of lemon-or lime or orange-help preserve the flavonoids.
Regardless of the variety of tea you brew, maximize the power of its flavonoids by always drinking it freshly brewed. As you can see, there’s more that goes into the perfect cup of tea than meets the eye. So, next time you go to brew a cup of ice tea, keep in mind these simple tricks that will enhance the natural flavors of your tea and help you get the most enjoyment out of your cold beverage.