Summer Sipping: Cooling off when things get hot

Summer Sipping: Cooling off when things get hot

Summer is fast approaching and the weather is finally beginning to warm up.
I still love a hot brew even on a sunny summer's day but when the weather warms up Iced Teas suddenly become more appealing and there is nothing I like better than taking a pitcher of iced tea into the garden and relaxing with a book while sipping through a jug of cold brew tea. 
Now I just slipped in the term cold brew didn't I? The traditional way of making Iced tea is to hot brew and then allow to cool. This way is still perfectly acceptable but the more on trend way is to cold brew and let the leaves infuse over a longer period of time. Of course there are disadvantages to this method...If you want your iced tea there and then, cold brewing won't give you any significant flavour in a few minutes so you might choose to hot brew wait a few minutes and pour over ice instead. 
If you're thinking ahead though, and prepare in advance then a cold brew iced tea is absolutely delicious and can be a little more nutritious to boot, as it retains higher Vitamin C levels and polyphenols (both great for giving your immune system a little boost).
Whilst making iced tea is simple enough, a little bit of extra care should be given to make sure you are getting the very best taste from your tea. For me, an iced tea should be naturally sweet, refreshing and clean tasting and I prefer something with little or no astringency. This isn't a problem with infusions but when you are using tea leaves then keeping the tannins to a minimum is a good idea as they can dry out the tongue leaving you still feeling thirsty and unrefreshed.
So what is the rule with amounts and brew times?
Whatever tea or infusions you chose to use for your cold brew iced tea, my rule of thumb is to use half the amount again when cold brewing as you would to hot brew.  As for the timings, for infusions, overnight brewing is just fine but I do think with white teas and green teas, a little less time brewing works much better. My recommendation would be to allow 3-4 hours for white teas and 4-6 hours for green teas. More oxidised leaves such as Oolongs and black teas are good for 6-8 hours. However, I personally am not a huge fan of cold black tea unless it is mixed with a good dose of mint or lemon and even perhaps a little honey.
Once brewed, all you do is strain and serve with added ice and perhaps a garnish or two.

My favourite cold brews at the moment are our Sweet White Lelaini, white tea with pear, passionfruit and pineapple, but our lovely Shanghai Oolong Beets with beetroot and raspberry comes a very close joint second with Genmaicha ChiChi - a gorgeous green tea with toasted rice, liquorice and calendula petals. All quite different but definitely hit the spot for a lovely taste of tea with subtle sweet flavours from the other ingredients.
Whatever your cold brew tipple you can always up the ante and really go to town with the garnishes. From mint or berries to dehydrated limes and lemons, let your creativity flow and adorn with abandon for a super tasty, super refreshing summer drink. Full of taste but no additives or sweeteners unlike so many soft drinks and bottled iced teas on the market today.

Top Tip: Topping up with soda water adds a little fizz for those seeking a few low-calorie bubbles and really sets your iced tea off in style.

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