Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The surprising flavor fiesta of cold steeping.

I'm normally a hot tea drinker. My constitution has always preferred hot foods and drinks, to cold. I love warm, zesty, savory, spicy edibles and drinkables. So imagine my surprise when I made this amazing cold brewed tea and caught my world on fire. Up until this point, I had only thought that people would hot steep the tea, then put it into some ice and go from there. With cold steeping, not only can you leave jugs of tea sitting about, but it allows the full bodies flavor of the leaf to come pulsing through, resulting in a more fuller flavored and satisfying tea. The way I see it, the more one can have satisfying food and drink experiences, the less inclined one will feel to eat thoughtlessly and for entertainment, but for nourishment and pleasure.

I had first heard about throwing my leaves into a glass of cold water at the World Tea Expo I attended some weeks ago (at the start of the mercury retrograde phase, unsurprisingly). What I learned over the course of the several hours I was there, was mind boggling...but also, a sure sign that I needed just a bit more focus to become that tea sommelier or health expert, buying and tasting expert etc., in order to feel comfy professionally handling the leaf. And what drew my eye to the cold brewing practice was a company whose name I wished I could remember, that sold these wine bottle-shaped containers to steep tea in, for cold brewing only. The representative working the booth was kind enough to tell me about steeping the tea for several days. She let me taste a two day and a three day steep. This is where I first learned that the leaf would not become bitter as in a hot steep, where the brew would increase in flavor intensity at a much more rapid pace.

It was also believed that certain phytochemicals would not be manifest in a cold brew, but it seems to be that studies are showing otherwise. And what I found in flavor, was enough to help me make the switch to drinking cold greens for the major part of the summer. 

I have been experimenting with all my flavors of Green tea in cold steeps. Cocomint green is rapidly winning my heart. Ten Ren's "403" green laced with ginseng, has an award-winning color and flavor when cold steeped. I love that I can package it in mason jars and walk away for days, and come back to a cold glass of it whenever my heart desires such relief. I was a little bit disappointed in the gyokuro, whose green color I wanted to enjoy more so. So far it seems to be the only green tea I still must enjoy hot, if I want the color. It really is part of the enjoyment for me, whether the tea has a distinctive green color and taste.

I was less interested in steeping black or white teas for the potency I attain when they are heated. Powerful medicine, these brews...