|that's Tie Guan Yin on the left and Silver Needle on the right|
This is really a post for summertime. So all of you in the Southern Hemisphere will be happy. The rest of you are probably asking, 'Why not wait until it's seasonally appropriate? What's the story on a summer topic in the opening days of winter?' Well, in my defence, I started thinking about this in summer. And if I try to wait for the right time, I just might forget.
Over the summer, I read people talking about cold-brewing tea. Putting leaves in cold (not remotely warm) water and waiting until the leaves naturally steep into some delicious goodness. You can do that? It works? I'm here to tell you that it does.
Those of you that already know this are going to think it's a non-story. Of course it does. Why wouldn't it? Now I know that...but it was somehow beyond my understanding. My mother made sun tea when I was a child. In her case it was tea bags in a container of water that was set out in the sun. After several hours, the warmth of the sun had brewed up a really strong tea (that people ruined with ice cubes and various forms of sweetener), but that's because of the heat. Right?
If you want to make tea, you need either hot water or you need to add some sort of heat. Isn't that correct?
Not necessarily. Why have I been sitting on this since summer? Well, it's simple actually. I had to try it. I had to know it was true before I went off half-cocked about it (I know that's not my normal way-I'm well-known for going off half-cocked). And once I got started experimenting with cold-brewing tea, I couldn't stop. It became a sort of obsession.
That's why it was so timely when in the comments of a recent post Tea Trade Peter mentioned drinking white tea cold. Here's how he said it:
'Let’s start with why does tea have to be drunk hot? I like white tea, but when it is hot, I find that I cannot appreciate the flavors, but when it is just warm, or at a temperature just slightly above the room temperature so you still get the aromatics (though, I think they still come through at room temp). I’ve gotten to the point where I’d rather let my white tea cool off before I drink it, it just seems better that way.'
Now, he's talking about brewing it hot and letting it cool. It's not the same thing. But when I read what he'd written, I had unintentionally been doing exactly that with various white teas. After I got as much out of the leaves as I could with hot water, I went on and soaked those same leaves in cold water overnight. With astounding results.
It's not the same as tea brewed with hot water. There are times when the result is something like faintly-scented water. It's subtle...a lot like what I've recently written about white tea in general. There are also times that I've left leaves in cool water, forgotten about them entirely, and after a day or so, the resulting tea was as strong and flavourful as any hot-brewed concoction.
Here, let's move in a little for a closer look:
Don't really drink the leaves, ok? Pour these through some sort of filter.
My question is: Have you tried this? What were your results? Though I don't think I'd do this with any black tea, it's had unbelievable results with Oolong, green tea, and white tea. How about you? Any experience?