Cold Brewing Loose Leaf Tea
Cold Brewing Loose Leaf Tea. In Florida, we never really experience the depth of winter weather that the rest of the US must endure. Consequently, we continue drinking iced tea all year round. According to the USA Tea Council, 85% of Americans choose to drink their tea iced, so there is still much-iced tea drunk this time of year.
Cold brewing loose leaf tea is simple and yields consistent results with little effort involved. This method of brewing is for true teas. It may work for some herbals, but our experience is not a suitable method for making iced Rooibos as this requires hot water to release flavor.
Please do not limit yourself to a particular tea: we cold brew black, oolong, green and white tea with equally good results. You may be surprised at an Earl Grey, and even our Lapsang Souchong is excellent cold brewed.
Cold Brewing Tea
Let’s get started.
- Good water always makes a difference. If your local water is heavily contaminated with chlorine, this will affect the final taste. Choose filtered water for the best results.
- Quality loose leaf tea will give you the best taste, but this is also a good way to use tea bags you have had in your pantry for too long. Life is too short to drink lousy tea, so mix and match and use it!
- Next, you will need some T Sacs. Put your tea in the T SAC, but don’t pack it too full to allow room for infusion and flavor to release. Use a second T SAC rather than overpacking. A tea maker such as the Timolina or Magic Filter works exceptionally well.
- The quantity of tea will depend on your personal preference but as a guide. We use 30gm or around 1 oz of tea per gallon. This works out to a teaspoon for 8-10oz of water if you are making a smaller quantity. We suggest you try different measurements and times to achieve the taste you like the best.
- Fill a sealed container with cold water and place the T sac with the tea in cold water, and then straight into the refrigerator for a period of 10-18 hours or longer. The tea will be deeper in color and flavor if infused for a longer time. Take the tea out of the water after 24 hours as we have found leaving the tea in the container will cause the tea to spoil faster.
Slow and Gentle
This slow, gentle process results in a much smoother, naturally clear, clean, and sweet-tasting tea that will last for 3 days. Do not be tempted to keep your tea too long and risk the possibility of spoilage. We are confident this is unlikely to happen as you will love the taste so much you will want to drink more!
Make up a gallon right now, and enjoy it tomorrow.
And in our Newsletter #4 Why Loose Leaf Tea is Better, we share a story from a customer who steeps her tea three times, two times using this Cold Brew method, and then uses hot water for the last steep.
Astringency in Tea
When we offer samples of tea at Selby Gardens or the Sarasota Farmer’s Market, many people respond with, “I don’t like the taste of tea.” Our standard cheeky response is, “Because you have never tasted our tea?”
After probing a bit, people describe the bitter taste of tea. The root cause is typically oversteeping, which is why we are so specific with steep times at Local Tea Company. Loose leaf tea offers so much flavor, and when prepared incorrectly, will become astringent.
Astringency is that dry, puckering sensation that follows a sip of strong tea, an assertive red wine, or a bite into not quite ripe fruit. Tannins are responsible. They are polyphenols or natural defensive compounds that actually help deter bacteria and fungi growing on the tea leaf. The sensation of astringency is caused by the ‘tanning’ of the proteins in the mouth’s saliva and mucous membranes. Besides, this causes the surface tissues actually to contract and reduce lubrication.
Tannins tend to get some bad press because they are often confused with tannic acid. However, tannic acid is derived from oak leaves and is used for tanning leather! When I was young, I remember well the threats from Dad that I would “get a good tannin if I misbehaved.” I guess this is the source of the phrase? In other words, and to set the record straight, I do not have a leathery bottom now. The threat served its purpose, and I am always a good girl!
The Camellia sinensis tannins found in loose leaf tea are responsible for the wonderful flavor and color in tea. After that, a little astringency is nice, giving your drink some body and briskness (I love that word!) and cleansing your palate after eating. That’s why a cuppa always tastes so good after dinner. You will find tannins very evident in green tea and especially black tea if steeped too long.
I will let you on to a little secret, though you may already know about if you drink your tea like the Brits. If you add milk to the tea, the tannins attack the milk’s proteins rather than those in your mouth, and you have a less astringent taste.
Last but not least, Tannins are said to keep bad bacteria out of your mouth and help impede dental cavities. In conclusion, celebrate Hot Tea Month and make your Dentist happy by drinking lots of tea!
Cochin Masala Chai
January is National Hot Tea Month, and all over the country, we are experiencing some chilly weather, even here in Florida. As everyone is much more appreciative of the benefits of drinking a nice hot cuppa, I can think of no better way to celebrate hot tea month than drinking the hottest of teas, Masala Chai.
Chai is the generic word for tea in much of the World. The British adopted the word as slang, and ‘cha’ or ‘char’ became the meaning of a teacup. So what is true Masala Chai?
This beverage from the Indian subcontinent is made by brewing tea with a mixture of aromatic spices and herbs. The traditional process of making chai involves actively boiling the tea leaves over sustained heat with spices. While there are many variations of preparation today (some not too good either!), there are four components that remain true to chai tea’s original idea.
- Strong black tea, usually Assam, but can be Ceylon. The loose leaf tea is strong, so spices and sweeteners do not overpower the flavor.
- Sweetener, usually white sugar, palm, or coconut sugars. A large quantity is required to bring out the flavor of the spices. You can use honey or agave also. Condensed milk can be used, which also adds sweetness.
- Milk, usually whole milk for richness, but alternatives like Soy can be used. 1/4 to 1/2 parts are required.
- Spice, usually warm spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, peppercorn, and cloves, with cardamom being the predominant flavor. Other possible additions are nutmeg, rose, licorices root, almond, and saffron.
Cochin Masala Chai
At Local Tea Company, we offer an outstanding Cochin Masala Chai, authentic and gives a warm traditional flavor. It bears the name of a busy port, which also has a long history in trading spices. We like to drink it without anything added and have been sampling our chai in the Tea Room at Selby Gardens, and probably one of these Saturdays at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market. Go ahead and try the different options and see which one you like the best. Then put your feet up, stay warm with a cup of Cochin Masala Chai and celebrate Hot Tea month!