It takes longer, but it's so much cooler

By Rebecca Firkser
July 24, 2018
Photo by Joana Sonnhoff / EyeEm via Getty Images

I can’t walk far in my neighborhood in the summer without seeing someone swigging from a bottle of cold brew. A few years ago, I probably would’ve only seen iced coffee—coffee brewed hot and immediately put on ice. I understand the sudden switch. When a drink is cold-brewed, it’s crisp and cool without any bitterness. In fact, because it’s so smooth, I try hard not to drink cold brew coffee, because once I have a sip I can’t stop. Since I try to limit by coffee consumption, I’ve switched over to the other side: cold brew tea.

Cold brew tea is just what it sounds like: tea brewed with cold water instead of hot. It’s a lot like sun tea, but there’s significantly less risk of bacterial contamination since the whole process takes place in a cold environment. It works with all types of tea, from white to green to black and anything in between. Though you could shove a few tea bags into a water bottle, I’ve found the best-tasting cold brew tea results come from steeping loose-leaf tea. I like to make large batches (about 3 servings, unless I’m feeling very thirsty or having people over) and stash them in a big mason jar or pitcher with a lid.

To make a three-serving batch of cold brew tea, drop 1 tablespoon of loose tea into a jar or pitcher and cover it with 3 cups of filtered cold or room temperature water. Give the brew a mix, then place the vessel in the refrigerator. Taste black or white tea after 6 hours, and green tea after 8. The teas may need another hour or two, but shouldn’t be steeped for much longer than those times.

Strain out the tea leaves with a fine mesh sieve and transfer the tea to a clean jar or pitcher. If you’d like, stir in 1 tablespoon sugar or honey and a squeeze of lemon juice. You can also make a version of this coffee soda using strong cold brewed black tea (Earl Grey and English Breakfast work) instead of coffee. Cold brew tea should be stored in the fridge, and should be drank within five days.