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Cold Brew Tea

What is Cold Brew Iced Tea and How is It Different From Just Iced Tea?

Written by:

Ashley Robertson

Once iced teas became popular, they were mistaken for cold brew tea. Many iced teas are heat-steeped teas with ice added, but cold brew iced tea is a beverage all its own. If you’re wondering, “What IS cold brew iced tea?” Read on!

Ever wonder, “What is cold brew iced tea?” Read on to learn about the process that makes cold brew iced tea different, and why it matters.

Not every iced tea is the same. Cafes serve iced teas made from hot and cold brews. The resulting beverages are very different from one another. You may have heard of cold brew iced tea and wondered, “what is cold brew iced tea and how is it different from iced tea?” Maybe you didn’t give the different titles a second thought, which would make sense.

If the beverage comes out cold, what difference does it make? Well, it’s a big one.

What is cold brew iced tea, and how is it different?

The process is the primary thing that differentiates the two beverages. If you never drink tea the differences in the two styles may seem arbitrary, but the resulting flavor and contents are important. Drinking each one side by side will reveal a noticeable difference in taste and effects. 

Here is how the two differentiate:

  • Process - Cold brew tea is a bit of a misnomer. Usually, cold brew tea uses room temperature water for the steeping. It would be difficult to keep the water cold for the entire brew. Cold brews are steeped in water for an entire day, at least. 

  • Astringency - It’s all about the process, and the cold brew process makes for a very different flavor. Hot water draws out more tannins from the leaves and makes for greater astringency in flavor. Having your tea iced after a heated brew will bring down the astringency as well, but using a cold brew from the start offers a smoother and sweeter beverage.

  • Caffeine - If you bought two iced teas thinking they were the same, but one of them left you more alert, you can bet the more wakeful result was from drinking a cold brew. A heated blend is more efficient in extracting caffeine from the leaf, but cold brew tea uses a much higher ratio of tea to water. The higher ratio makes cold brew tea more caffeinated despite the less-efficient process.

The flavor of many cold brews comes out tame compared to the sugary sweetness of commercialized drinks or even the higher astringency of a heated brew. Don’t be fooled by this. A quality cold brew will bring out more of the tea’s complexities and make for a healthier beverage overall.

What is cold brew iced tea and how do you make it great?

The most important part of making cold brew iced tea is the leaf you are using. Many of the commercialized iced teas - whether brewed with cold or hot water - will change the flavor of their teas dramatically with the things they add to it. In many cases, this is a sign of using a low-quality leaf. 

The right leaf yields the best possible flavor for cold brew iced tea. We know our True Cold Brew Oolong Tea and True Cold Brew Black Tea are perfect examples of how the best ingredients available elevate results.

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True. Cold. Nitro.