(That is the question, but the answer is...Cold Brew)
While the term is relatively new, the process of Cold Brew can be found in base principles from long ago. Have you ever heard of “Sun Tea?” It's just a way of preparing tea over an extended period of time by putting the desired ingredients in water and sealing them in a jar. (Typically a good ‘ol fashioned Southern Mason Jar.) You'd set it out in the sun to let light do the work of using heat to diffuse the flavors into the water.
Perhaps you're new to tea and are saying to yourself, “What’s the difference?”
Traditionally, tea is steeped in near boiling water to draw out as much flavor as possible in a quick amount of time. Because of the heat, the flavor develops quickly and has a good amount of strength to it.
However, the cold brew process lives up to its name in the fact that the tea is steeped in cold water.
So in lieu of an in-depth chemistry session, the simple explanation is that the heat is a catalyst causing a robust reaction of change that draws flavor quickly and the cold is more of an agent of stability promoting a less volatile environment, which is why brewing tea cold takes a much longer time. (Usually 12-24 hours, versus 3-6 minutes for hot.)
If time is of the essence, then by all means get that hot water and brew that tea ASAP! Because we all know that the tea we can have is better than the tea we can’t have!
But, if you have the time to let the cold brew work its wonders, then you will have a special reward because of it. The slow brew time and low temperatures will alter the normal flavors of the teas that you are use to.
It will mellow out some of the bitter tannins, and change the dominant flavors of the tea to be more subtle, which in turn draws the typically subtle flavors to the forefront.
Apart from a little the patience, the process is extremely easy as well. Here's how to cold brew tea:
1. Add about 4 tablespoons of the tea of your choice to a air-tight pitcher.
A pitcher with a tight seal is important so you avoid funky fridge flavors from infiltrating your tea. We love this one.
2, Add cool or tepid water to fill the pitcher.
3. Place in your fridge overnight.
4. Use a tea strainer to filter the leaves out as you pour into a cup. Then, of course, just enjoy the magic of Cold Brew!