Whether it be for coffee or tea, cold brewing is hot these days (pun intended). But how exactly does cold brewing work? Well for tea, it is really simple. The steps are really just to put a traditional iced tea bag (or loose leaves) in the appropriate amount of water, put that in the refrigerator and wait about 6-12 hours. One main advantage of this technique is that there is a less chance of steeping the tea for too long, which can result in a bitter and astringent taste. Also when compared to “sun tea”, there is less of a chance of the tea growing bacteria that could potentially be harmful.
There have been mixed conclusions about how the different brewing processes effect the antioxidant content of the tea. This study in Prevention magazine seemed to find that hot brewing and cold brewing resulted in similar antioxidant content, but others report that cold brewed iced tea is lower in antioxidants.
In my experience the taste of hot versus cold brewing is very similar, but cold brewed tea is harder to “mess up” or steep for too long. I did find that when trying to cold brew Pure Leaf iced classic black tea, I had a hard time getting it as strong as I like. Others like Tazo , Mighty Leaf or even just plain Lipton fared better, in my opinion.