Cold Brew Tea: A Complete Guide

How to Cold Brew Any Tea from Sips by

We love this time of year, when the skies turn blue, the sun comes out, and the temperatures rise. But that certainly doesn’t mean your tea-sipping should come to a halt. Did you know that you don’t need hot water to make tea? There’s a method of steeping tea called cold brewing and it’s exactly what you need to beat the heat. Cold brewing involves immersing tea leaves in cold water and letting them slowly infuse overnight in the fridge.

We’re so excited to share this method because it’s a great way to make refreshing, flavorful teas - especially when it’s hot outside! Read below to learn more about cold brewing tea, and see how you can cold brew your own teas all year round.

Sips by is a personalized tea discovery subscription. Each month, we match tea drinkers across the U.S. with delicious teas from over 150 global tea brands that we’re sure they’ll love. Members receive 4 teas chosen just for them in every box. Learn more about our tea subscription service.


Best Cold Brew Tea Shop

Explore the Cold-Brew Tea Shop to discover the best-rated teas for cold brewing. These cool brews are top-rated by Sips by’s 750,000 members for the refreshing burst of flavor that can’t be beat. This curated shop has a wide variety of teas that are perfect to cold brew for any occasion. Find your new favorite cold brew teas to add to your daily summer ritual.

Cold Brew Tea in a pitcher with a Sips by Box

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WHY COLD BREW TEA?

COLD BREWED TEA TASTES AMAZING

While pouring hot brewed tea over ice to make iced tea instantly does work if you’re making it on short notice, it can sometimes lead to watery, diluted brew that compromises the depth of flavor and overall experience. On the other hand, cold brewing tea is different because it allows the tea leaves to infuse very slowly over time, creating a different balance of compounds than hot steeping does. Cold brewing gives the tea time to develop more complex flavor notes and aromas, all while preventing the release of the bitter tannins and astringent flavors that are normally extracted toward the end of hot steeping. You can cold brew any tea, and the process generally reduces the caffeine content by half of any tea you use. The result is a smooth, easy to drink tea that’s calming and refreshing. Think of how slow-roasting a dish over several hours creates delicious flavors that can’t be achieved by heating in the microwave…It’s kind of like that :)

COLD BREWED TEA IS SAFE AND LASTS LONGER

You may be familiar with sun tea, which is tea that has been brewed outside using heat from the sun. While sun tea is widely considered a summertime tea staple, this method can potentially promote the growth of bacteria when brewed incorrectly. There’s zero risk with cold brewed tea, because you are keeping the tea infusion clean, fresh, and refrigerated. However, cold brew still retains the same amount of healthy antioxidants as hot tea. It also steeps sweeter than hot tea, so you might not feel compelled to add as much sweetener. Additionally, while hot-brewed tea should be consumed the same day it was made, a batch of cold-brewed tea can be enjoyed for several days if it is kept refrigerated! The only factor you should be mindful of is the type of tea you’re cold-brewing; you should give white tea, herbs, and flowers a rinse with hot water first, since they haven’t been processed with heat to kill bacteria. The same should be done with aged puerh as it may have accumulated dust over the years.

COLD BREWED TEA IS HASSLE-FREE

The only materials required for cold brewing are tea leaves or tea bags, water, and a brewing vessel. All you have to do is combine the tea leaves and water before bed in the brewing vessel to wake up to freshly-brewed and chilled tea! This makes prepping iced tea before events or parties much easier, since you can get all the work done in advance. Plus, it’s very difficult to mess up or over-steep cold brewed tea, so this is a great option for teas that are trickier to brew like delicate greens and oolongs.”

BEST TEAS TO COLD BREW

White Tea

Cold brewing white tea makes for a smooth, low-caffeine, hydrating tea with sweet, fruity notes. Remember to give it a quick flash brew of hot water to kill any bacteria on the leaves, since white tea is processed without heat. Try cold brewing this delightful white tea: Bai Mudan White Tea by Made of Tea.

Green Tea

We LOVE cold brewing green tea! Cold brewing green tea brings out the fresh, crisp flavor and avoids the bitter element that people often dislike. Try one of our favorites: Wight Tea Co Tropical Green Tea.

Oolong Tea

Oolong teas are bursting with flavor when they cold brew! For oolongs that are tightly rolled, you don’t need to use as much leaf because of how they expand.

Black Tea

Cold brew black tea makes a classic chilled brew - try different types, such as Nilgiri, Darjeeling, and Assam, to see which flavor profile fits you best! Black tea blends and flavored teas, such as peach, coconut, or mango, can be very refreshing iced as well.

Rooibos

Rooibos and honeybush (herbal tisanes from South Africa) make delicious, soothing, and antioxidant-rich cold brews that go well with many different fruits and flavors. Since they’ve been processed with heat, a flash hot brew isn’t necessary, unless there are herbs in the blend you’re using.

Caffeinated Herbals

These include yerba mate, guayusa, and yaupon - members of the holly family. Cold brew herbal tea is delicious because the process removes most of the bitterness and mellows out the caffeine levels. Like rooibos, these leaves have been processed with heat, so you don’t need to flash hot brew them. CatSpring Yaupon's Pedernales Green Yaupon is our favorite.

Non-Caffeinated Herbals

Herbs, flowers, and dried fruits can make a lovely cold brew herbal tea infusion! We love using tulsi (holy basil), mint, ginger, hibiscus, nettles, rose, and lemongrass, to name a few. Be careful with herbs that you’re unfamiliar with and always check with an herbalist or on the package to make sure they don’t need to be boiled in water first. As a general rule of thumb, flash brew your herbal tea with hot water to ensure any bacteria is killed.

Try more refreshing teas for cold brew tea with your own Sips by Box.

WHAT YOU NEED TO COLD BREW TEA

How does cold brew tea really work? Honestly, we understand if steeping tea in cold water seems like it wouldn’t actually make tea. You might have to see it with your own eyes to believe it, but we can guarantee that cold brewed tea is a simple, effective, and fun way to make tea!

There are only a few items you need to make cold brew tea: tea, a brewing vessel, a filter/strainer, water, and a fridge. Besides the tea, the container you use to brew it is one of the most important items on the list - you could use a glass jar with a lid, a large pitcher or carafe, a bottle with a lid, or even a plastic container with a lid. The key to the brewing vessel is that you can cover it with a lid, plastic, or foil so your tea steeps in peace! (We don’t want your tea tasting like the leftovers from dinner).

For making a large pitcher of tea, you can buy large single use cold brew tea bags or use several regular tea bags. Or, you can make your own cold brew tea bags with your favorite tea using fillable biodegradable filter tea bags. The large filters are perfect for pitchers of tea while the small filters save you tea and time when making just a cup or two. One of the best reasons to cold brew tea is that it’s easy to experiment with tea flavors. Have a hibiscus herbal and a peach oolong, or a mint green and a lemon ginger? Mix them together, steep them in cold water, and see what happens! It’s hard to go wrong when cold brewing tea.


cold brew tea
cold brew tea
cold brew tea
cold brew any tea
cold brew any tea

HOW TO MAKE COLD BREW TEA

Spring and summer is the time to have fun with cold brewing! Sometimes you’ll find yourself loving a tea when it’s cold brewed, even if you aren’t fond of it hot - or vice versa. You can add fruits, fresh herbs, citrus juice, honey, lime and anything else you like to spice up your cold brewed teas. We also suggest mixing some cold brewed tea into a punch mixture or summertime cocktail for added flavor and health benefits. You can even freeze some of your cold brew batch into ice cubes, and use the tea-cubes in your cup to avoid dilution!


Cold Brewed Tea Recipe

What You'll Need

  • Your favorite tea! Not sure what tea to use? Check out our Summer Tea Shop to discover your perfect warm weather tea.
  • Brewing vessel: pitcher, cup, water bottle, beverage dispenser, mason jar, iced tea brewer
  • Strainer or filter pouch (if you don't have a brewing vessel with a built-in strainer)
  • Water (ideally filtered or spring): cool or room temperature
  • Refrigerator

Directions

Measure your tea. We recommend adding up to 2x times the amount of tea that you'd use to brew hot tea. Use 1-2 teaspoons of loose leaf tea for every cup of water for a single batch or 4-5 teaspoons of loose leaf tea for every quart for a large pitcher. If you’re using tea bags, less is not more! You want to make sure you wake up to a strong, delicious tea so at least use 3-5 tea bags per quart when making a pitcher of tea. 1-2 tea bags should be enough for a glass or bottle with 1-2 servings. If your brew turns out too strong, you can always adjust the taste by adding more cold water.

Add tea to your container. Put your tea leaves or tea bags in the brewing vessel. You can put the leaves in a filter for easy removal, or put them directly in the water to let them expand.

Add water to the tea and place in the fridge for 2 - 8 hours, or brew it overnight. Generally, the stronger or more astringent the tea (pure green teas, black teas, oolong) you'll want to taste-test at the 2 hour mark. Lighter teas (hibiscus, herbal, white teas) can be steeped longer to extract more flavor. With most teas, recent studies show that the health benefits are optimally extracted at the 1-2 hour mark, so you can start taste-testing then, and enjoy your tea once it's achieved the flavor you like best.

Remove tea from the fridge, strain the leaves or remove the tea bags, and enjoy! Cold brew tea is best served chilled with no ice to enjoy the full depth of flavor.

Tip: Try mixing different flavors of cold brew tea together, sweeten your cold brew tea with a flavored simple syrup, or mix a cold brew tea with lemonade for a refreshing treat!

    * These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

    Summer Tea Shop

    The sun is shining, birds are singing, and you're ready to spend summer days lounging in your backyard. And what's a better accessory to summer lounging than a cool glass of iced tea? Sips by has the summer iced teas, teaware, and tea accessories to make your own personal tea oasis. So whether you're looking for delicious fruity teas to cold brew, convenient iced tea pitchers to make sun tea, or themed boxes to take your hot tea summer to the next level, Sips by's Summer Tea Shop has the tea you need for a refreshing summer.

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    Interested in trying these teas and others? Subscribers receive 4 teas chosen just for them in every box. Learn more about our tea subscriptions.

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    About Sips by: We’re a female-founded and led startup that makes discovering tea fun, personalized, and affordable. The Sips by Box is the only multi-brand, personalized tea subscription box. Each month, we match tea drinkers across the U.S. with delicious teas from over 150 global tea brands that we’re sure they’ll love. Based out of Austin, Texas, we are adept at savoring a hot mug even when it’s seasonally inappropriate. 

    7 comments

    When I was in college back in the mid ’70’s, a roommate shared this method of making iced tea! I love doing it this way – no bitterness and none of the cloudiness that can sometime result from the normal method of making tea and then chilling the brewed tea.

    Lisa A Davis

    This is super helpful. I will certainly be sure to try the few teas that I didn’t give high hearts to as cold brewed over the next weeks.

    April

    Does cold brewing work with tea bags?

    Mary Zylo

    Looks amazing

    Alexandria Golden

    I love this

    Acosha

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