Best brewing practices for iced green tea?
August 28, 2005 6:51 PM   Subscribe

I'd like some advice on brewing green tea at home to refrigerate and drink cold.

A while ago I stumbled across a brand of bottled green tea ('Teas' Tea' by Ito En, if you're wondering) and became hooked. At $1.60-2.10 per 500 mL bottle, this is an expensive habit. I've tried brewing green tea and refrigerating it, but it's not as smooth. Sometimes it comes out bitter (possibly brewed too long.) Sometimes the taste is smoky instead of clean and neutral (due to the variety, I assume.) I've tried a few from Uwajimaya (the local Asian supply store) and a few packaged American brands. If you have any variety/store/technique recommendations, please let me know.
posted by rebirtha to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried diluting the tea with cold water? I've never tried brewing green iced tea, but when I make iced tea with black tea, I usually steep the tea in hot water until it's a rich dark color and then add equal parts cold water, a handful of mint and a spoonful of sugar. This method makes perfect iced tea.
posted by Sully6 at 7:06 PM on August 28, 2005

For green tea in general, I obey the following rules:

  • Use water at about 75 °C
  • Pour 1 cup of water over about 5 grams of tea leaves
  • Let sit for 90 seconds for mild flavor and 2 minutes for a stronger flavor
  • Remove leaves without mashing them around too much

  • posted by rxrfrx at 7:06 PM on August 28, 2005

    Best answer: Almost all of those bottled green teas have sugar or honey in them, but that one looks like it isn't sweetened. My suggestion would be to make it weaker than normal - those things are pretty diluted in my opinion. Get a really good green tea: I love the Adagio varieties, and you can get a sampler with 2 oz of several flavours, so you can try them all out without a big outlay. They also suggest using cooler-than-boiling water. This is key, in my opinion. Green tea is delicate and pouring scalding water over it just "burns" it and makes it bitter. They suggest brewing for less than 3 mins; that would be on the high side, for my tastes. Use purified water, new water each time you boil the kettle, and you should have a pretty tasty cup of tea. Transfer to a glass and put in the fridge - I wouldn't leave it there for longer than a few days, or else it will get pretty bitter. This one (slightly minty) is especially great for iced green tea.

    For a really refreshing/yummy green tea latte, here's my recipe from "O-Cha" in Vancouver.
    1. Take some matcha powder and put it in a mug.
    2. Mix in a bit of warm milk, until it dissolves. Add a bit of caramel sauce (tiny amount).
    3. Pour in more warm milk, stirring the entire time. Add milk foam if desired.
    4. Swirl a bit more caramel sauce on the top -- a very fine line in a few circles should do the trick.
    5. Make moaning sounds while saying, "Sooooooo good!"
    posted by fionab at 7:08 PM on August 28, 2005

    If it is too bitter, then you are probably using too many tea leaves for the amount of water. Cut back and it will make a difference.

    My favorite green tea is the kind called Chinese Gun Powder, but my brewing method will work for most kinds of tea.

    First, I like to use 32 ounce glass juice bottles for containers. They fit in the fridge well, are free and can be carried easily to work. They are also great for sun tea.

    I generally make two bottles at once. First, I add about a tablespoon and a half of leaves to each bottle and add honey or sugar if I am in the mood. Then I place the jars in the sink and boil the water in a regular tea pot. When the teapot whistles I let it stand for a few seconds. This is important; if the water is too hot then the tea leaves will be scalded. I add the tea to each jar and let it cool until it can be handled. Then I put on the cap and refrigerate. The tea leaves can be strained out if you like, but if I plan to drink the tea within the following day or so I just use a hand strainer as I pour my tea into my cup.
    posted by Alison at 7:11 PM on August 28, 2005

    A Moroccan guy showed me how to make their traditional mint tea, which is made with gunpowder green. The first step was to pour some hot water on the leaves, wait maybe a count of ten, pour it off, and then put on the water to steep. He said the first step was essential because it reduced the bitterness.

    I've never had to do this with sencha, which is my favourite green, but it seems to be a good idea with some green teas.
    posted by zadcat at 7:58 PM on August 28, 2005

    Actually, I wouldn't use a high-end green tea for chilling. Chilling would lose the subtlety of a fine tea. Instead you need something fairly strong and robust to take the dilution and still be flavorful. Sri Lanka and Vietnam are both producing nice green teas now that are not especially expensive. I get an affordable fair trade green from Sri Lanka that's perfectly good hot or cold.
    posted by zadcat at 8:43 PM on August 28, 2005

    My wife does this all the time and does it awesomely. She says:

    I brew some loose leaf in a teappot (with a strainer or one of those tea balls). Steep it for only 5 minutes. Remove tea. Add honey to sweeten while still hot. Let cool to room temp and pour over ice and water.
    posted by xmutex at 9:29 PM on August 28, 2005

    I would use a stable plastic bottle instead of glass, if you're going to carry it (or if you have a tile-floored kitchen). Glass is heavy, and creates a hazard when it breaks. I'm thinking of polypropylene, because I believe it won't outgas into hot tea. (If I am wrong about that, I welcome correction.)
    posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:19 AM on August 29, 2005

    The plastic bottles I've used more than once have warped and don't hold up well in the washing machine. Plus, I'm not sure where to find large polypropylene bottles for free. I walk two miles to work and the glass ones haven't failed yet. I keep the bottles in the sink so that they have a safe place to cool and I dry them off before moving them to the fridge. They're just like double sized snapple bottles.
    posted by Alison at 5:37 AM on August 29, 2005

    Best answer: The real key is to make sure the water is below boiling temp when you start to brew. Boiling water will make a bitter green tea.
    posted by OmieWise at 5:49 AM on August 29, 2005

    The plastic bottles I've used more than once have warped and don't hold up well in the washing machine.
    Then they weren't polypropylene. That stuff is autoclavable. Nalgene bottles are heat-resistant, and pretty cheap. I thought the Nalgene bottles were PP, but the ones I have now are marked "PC", which I take to mean polycarbonate. If PP is a subset of PC, the Nalgene bottles may still be PP.

    "Free" is kind of an unreasonable requirement when you're talking about safety (and I was).
    posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:07 AM on August 29, 2005

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