Cold brewing overcomes many inconveniences associated with traditional steeping and makes green tea more accessible to everyone. Cold brewing by steeping leaves in the refrigerator overnight is a popular, energy-efficient, foolproof way to produce iced tea. During those hot summer months, who wants to steam up the kitchen by boiling water?
Cold brewing produces a different result from hot steeping as the balance of extraction is altered. Typically cold steeped teas are sweeter and smoother, usually having lower astringency and caffeine levels as well as less theobromine for those with sensitive stomachs. It is also quite simple to produce large quantities at a time, unlike the beautiful ice steeping methods gaining popularity with high quality Japanese green teas.
With a multi-hour preparation window however, the overnight cold brewing technique takes advance planning, so the tea is not for spontaneous enjoyment.
Many companies are seeking to fill that void, introducing ‘faster’ cold-steeping true leaf teas (as opposed to instant tea and tea-flavored drinks) that are ready to consume in fewer hours, sometimes even in under an hour. Some of the companies in this market include Twinings, TenRen, Teawan, Den’s Teas and Takaokaya. Some of these teas are full leaf blended with ground leaf to speed up the cold water steep.
The newest trend is tea leaves specially prepared to infuse in cold water almost instantly. In just a single minute after inserting the long thin teabag or tea stick into a bottle of water and shaking, your cold brewed green tea is ready to drink. This is not an instant tea mix. The paper or foil or plastic tea sticks, which are perforated with hundreds of tiny holes, contain whole leaf tea. Tea Sticks do not collapse and compress when dipped in water, allowing tea leaves the desired space to uncurl and release delicate flavors.
Swirl is one example recently awarded Best New Product at the 2012 World Tea Expo. Offerings include a green tea, mint and fruit flavored versions. Another is TStix (pronounced T Sticks) which are BPA-free food grade film infusers with 1100 micro-filter perforations. The company offers three kinds of teas in eight flavors packaged in boxes of 20. Petit Tea in British Columbia, Canada, makes a foil tea stick in five flavors and recently introduced a variety pack. Zhi Tea in Austin, Tex., recently introduced a four-pack of somewhat larger 1 oz. filter bags used to cold-steep a half-gallon of tea at a time.
© 2012 Tea Magazine