Tea is one of the most consumed beverages in this world. The rising demand for tea across the globe is associated with the exquisite flavor and aroma the drink offers its consumers. A warm cup of tea is synonymous to stress buster. But what if the tea is not warm?
Will tea steep in cold water? Yes, tea steeps in cold water. Allowing the drink to sit for some time in room temperature before transferring the drink into refrigerator can effectively create similar infusion. The process of extraction of nutrients is slower. Ice-teas often use this method for brewing.
Tea leaves are plucked from the evergreen shrub named Camellia Sinensis. The magical leaves when dipped in water, releases the flavors and the aroma packed in the leaves into the water, resulting in the formation of tea. Tea is traditionally served in a bowl of warm water. The warm water compliments the flavors of tea and further enhance the aroma.
However, with the growing demand for tea in the world, people come up with newer serving techniques. People have attempted creating infusion with cold water instead of the traditional warm water used. The result quite surprisingly came in favor of the newly created drinking method. But what are the challenges and how is it different from the infusion in hot water?
To understand this, let us know why tea steeps in water in the first place.
What Is Diffusion?
Diffusion is the process of movement of molecules evenly from a region of higher concentration to a region of lower concentration. The process is possible in fluids (gas and liquid) because of the presence of intramolecular space. The molecules tend to move freely in the medium, creating an evenly distributed fluid.
Tea leaves when dipped in water goes through a similar process. The tea leaves contain all the goodness and the aroma. When immersed in water, the goodness of the leaves move outwards from the leaves (higher concentration) and flows into the water (lower concentration). This is how the infusion is created during the brewing of tea. The molecules carry all the richness of tea leaves into the water and form an evenly flavored beverage.
What is the role of hot water in the process of formation? Warm water contains excited water molecules with higher kinetic energy. The higher kinetic energy results in higher collision and greater movement of the particles inside the fluid. This facilitates the formation of tea as molecules transfer the goodness of the leaves much efficiently and evenly across the water.
If the medium is replaced with cold water instead of hot, the water molecules have a much lesser tendency to carry the tea flavors. In short, the process becomes slower and inefficient. That is, the extraction process from the leaves cannot be as efficient. Lesser amounts of flavors, lower amounts of nutrients, lower tannins will be extracted from the leaves naturally.
How efficient is the cold brew? Brewing tea in cold water takes much longer than doing the same in hot water. It will take much longer (approx 8-12 hours depending upon the temperature of water) to brew. The extraction of goodness from the tea leaves are also much lesser.
However, this is not necessarily a problem. Ice tea, in general, are sweeter compared to boiled tea (or sun tea). Lots of people complain regarding the bitter taste in tea which necessarily does not compliment the flavor of ice tea. Brewing ice tea in cold water extracts lesser tannins from the tea leaves. The drink is thus much sweeter and lighter!
With the growing demand for cold coffee, tea drinkers come up with the exact drink to beat the heat. Ice tea is a perfect summer-ready to drink beverage. It is essentially tea brewed in cold water, served with cold ice and occasionally fruits and flowers.
How is it made? Ice tea can be made in two ways. It differs in the temperature of water used as the base.
Ice tea can be made with warm water used as a base and later left for cooling (or freezing). This method is a lot quicker as brewing tea leaves in warm water takes a lot lesser time. The extraction of nutrients from the leaves is much more efficient in this process.
However, given the question of brewing ice tea, it is not always desirable. Tannins extracted from the leaves tend to make the tea insipid and bitter. Ice tea, however, is preferably sweeter in taste and is expected to have lighter flavory notes. The cooling process takes an almost similar time to create an infusion as other methods.
The next method in this regard is the use of a cold brew process. Pouring tea leaves on the water of average temperature and letting it sit for some time (30 minutes) before putting it for refrigeration.
The infusion must be left covered and undisturbed for thirty minutes in normal room temperature. It must then be transferred to the refrigerator and left for 8-12 hours. More the time, stronger the drink.
Serve this beverage with some fruits and ice if you like. A slice of lemon or some mint paired together with ice cubes will not only quench your thirst but refresh you in your summer days!
Quick Tip: To prepare your drink faster, use warm water while brewing your ice tea. Heat your water slightly, pour the tea leaves and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Strain the drink and let it cool for two-four hours. That’s all!
Ice tea is a perfect summer drink to chill your senses. Ice tea can be served with various flavorants. Serve your cup of ice tea with fruits, flowers or herbs. Each brings another beautiful flavor to this wonderful drink!
Try: Make your own delicious cup of ice tea. Pre-boil two cups of water and let it cool for some time. Pour your black tea leaves on a bowl and then the warm water over the leaves. Let the solution sit for thirty minutes. Strain the solution and move the tea into your refrigerator. Let it cool for 6-8 hours.
Use some mint leaves and squeeze a slice of lemon into the mixture. Serve the drink with some ice cubes! You may use rock salt according to your taste. Serve the drink chilled!
Ice tea is a ubiquitous beverage nowadays. You can often find ready to drink ice teas available in cans or bottles. Ice tea powder too is trendy. Add a teaspoon of the powder to your chilled water, and you are good to go!
So, ice tea is a pervasive part of tea drinking cultures across the globe.
Advantages Of The Cold Brew Process
I. Lesser amounts of caffeine extraction. The cold-brew process extracts much lesser amounts of caffeine as compared to hot water brewing. This is beneficial to people who wish to enjoy tea but is not a big fan of caffeine. Sit the cold brew infusion for lesser time, and you have a weaker drink in terms of caffeine. Enjoy your less caffeinated tea!
II. A lesser amount of tannin extraction. Tannins are responsible for making the drink insipid. Often people complaint regarding the bitter taste of the drink. It is mostly due to the presence of tea tannins. Cold extraction process extracts a lesser amount of tea tannins, and the resulting drink is sweeter in taste. It is much desirable to people not used to drinking more robust cups of tea.
III. An effective method of brewing ice-tea. Cold infusion method is a very effective method for brewing ice tea. People enjoying ice tea can always rely on the technique.
Tea can, therefore, steep in cold water as well. Undoubtedly, the process is not as effective or as fast as warm water brew, but it has its advantages. Ice tea is a great summer refresher which can be effectively brewed using colder water.