Iced Tea: Cold vs Hot Steeped

It is the perfect time of year for sitting outside and enjoying a big glass of refreshing iced tea. Iced tea may be seen by most as a summer treat, but I love it so much that I often drink it year round, and I always have a couple of pitchers in my fridge ready to sip on. So what is the best way to go about making a delicious iced tea?

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There are two main steeping methods when making iced tea: hot steeping and cold steeping.

Hot steeping: Most people are going to be familiar with this process. In this method you make a pitcher of hot tea. Let your tea steep for a few minutes (water temperature and timing will change depending on the type of tea that is being used), Then, allow your tea to cool down for a few hours before adding ice and enjoying. I like to make my iced teas strong so that the ice does not dilute the drink as it melts.

Cold steeping: To cold steep you pour cold, preferably filtered water over your tea (you need to use about 1.5x more tea than you typically would). Then, place the pitcher in the refrigerator and allow it to steep for 6-24 hours (the longer it steeps the stronger the flavor). Remove the tea leaves from the pitcher and enjoy your iced tea.

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For both methods you could add sugar to taste, and any other wanted ingredients such as lemon or other fruits. Both of these methods are easy and can create a delicious product, but depending on the type of tea you are using, there may be benefits to one over the other.

You can use any type of tea you like with either of these methods, however, some teas get very bitter if use water that is too hot to steep them. Because cold water extracts chemicals from the tea differently than hot water, cold steeped teas do not get bitter. If you are using white, green or any other teas that are heat sensitive cold steeping is a worry free way to go. Cold water also does not extract as much caffeine from the tea so this method is great if you are looking to cut down on the amount of caffeine that you are drinking. Cold steeping will also change the flavor of the tea from what it would have been with hot water, this means a new way of tasting your tried and true favorite teas.

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Herbal teas do not get bitter from hot water so using the hot steeping method is perfect for them. Using boiling water for these teas will give you a stronger flavor and be much faster than cold steeping which is a much slower process.

There is no right way to make iced tea, so have a refreshing summer experiment and find your favorite way to steep your teas.

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2 thoughts on “Iced Tea: Cold vs Hot Steeped”

  1. I’ve never had a cold-brew attempt turn out successfully. As to the hot-steeped … I prefer to fill a pint glass with ice … then pour over the hot tea concentrate. Like pouring oil over an invading army.

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