Return to T Ching Classics: Cold Brew Tea
Cold brewing can be done with both tea and coffee. Some people find cold brewing to be superior because of the exceptionally smooth flavor and a noticeable lack of tannins.
We’ve written previously about cold brewing versus hot brewing when it comes to caffeine. However, what about the health benefits? In general, when you cold brew tea you are trading heat for time. We’ve looked at a number of reputable studies and found that cold brewing tea offers the same level of health benefits versus hot brewing. To be specific, we are referring to pure tea and the anti-oxidants released during the cold brewing process.
How much tea should you use when cold brewing? At our cafe, we use 2 level tablespoons of tea per 18 ounces of water for hot tea. Each tea is different, and you may notice that certain teas such as the tightly rolled green and oolong teas require less tea than other types, so you’ll need to play with the amounts to find out what works best. For cold brewing, we use the same proportions, and sometimes add just a little more tea to the mix.
However, there are no set rules and you need to feel it out based on the type of tea and volume you are brewing. One thing is for certain: cold brewing is a little more forgiving if you use too much, as cold brewing will not become bitter from over steeping. One other tip is to agitate the leaves at some point during the cold brewing process.
An area where you may opt not to cold brew is certain herbal and fruit tisanes. Some herbal blends contain roots (i.e. ginger or turmeric for example) which have certain compounds that need hot water in order to be released. Boiling water may also pull out some additional flavor from dried fruits and berries. Leafy herbs like peppermint should be fine, however. There are some herbal blends that recommend boiling water for a ‘safe cup’. Although unlikely it is possible some herbal or fruit blends with a lot of “stuff” in them may have some microbes, so using boiling water is effectively pasteurizing the tea.
As far as equipment is concerned, using a dedicated cold brewer, like the For Life Mist series makes life easier. You can simply throw the tea in the pitcher and not have to worry about bags.
What is the maximum amount of tea you can drink?
Tea contains caffeine, like coffee. However amino acids like l-theanine in tea cause the caffeine to be absorbed more slowly. There is also less caffeine in tea because you need less tea in dry weight terms to make a cup of tea versus coffee. Because of lower caffeine content, you can drink more tea per day than coffee without going into what is considered a danger zone (i.e. 600 milligrams of caffeine per day). We’ve reviewed many studies over the years and found that the sweet spot for tea is 5-6 cups per day all the way up to 10 cups. This translates into 40-80 ounces of tea per day. None of the studies we’ve looked at exceeded this amount. Black tea probably tops out at 45mg per 8 ounces. Even if you drank 10 cups of black tea you will not exceed the caffeine limit.
How Much Fluid?
The old rule of thumb about drinking 8 glasses of water (64 ounces) no longer applies. Instead, they focus on fluid content as a whole, which includes fluids in food. The new general recommendation is 91 ounces total fluid intake for women and 125 ounces for men. Generally speaking, we get about 20% of our water directly from food. If you eat a lot of salad you’ll get a lot more water than you would in a Bic Mac.
Beverage Hydration Index
A recent study created the so-called Beverage Hydration index, ranking various beverages in their ability to rehydrate. It was no surprise that tea is at the same level of water (100%). Caffeine does have diuretic properties, which is why coffee scores a little below tea. But what is interesting is that the body becomes tolerant of the diuretic properties of caffeine with regular intake. Previous studies focused on high coffee intake (over 300mg) to individuals DEPRIVED of caffeine for a period of days or weeks.
Too much tea…..??
Depending on how you measure your cup (6 ounce traditional tea cup size or the 8 ounce size), you can drink a lot of tea per day (in most cases a healthy 64 ounces) and not have any ill effects. But can you overdo it? There are cases where drinking too much tea, or too much of a particular type of tea can be harmful.
We looked at a few worse case scenarios. One person died from kidney failure caused by excessive black tea consumption. In this case, the individual consumed about one gallon (128 ounces) of black tea a day. That’s all day, every day. Black tea contains oxalates, which is found in various vegetables and is found in black tea. Another person developed flourosis by consuming too much tea. In this case she had an iced tea habit made every day from 100-150 tea bags. Mass market bagged tea also contain more fluoride than their loose leaf counter parts.
Extreme amounts of tea, or any nutrient for that matter can have damaging effects . Water, even in extreme quantity can kill you. Based on the various studies, 64 ounces of tea is probably an ideal maximum for most people without any other dietary issues. We would also recommend changing tea types – not focusing on one type of tea.