As a first generation immigrant from Japan, I’ve gone through culture shocks and “sun tea” is one of them. “Shock” may be a little too exaggerated but it remained a mystery to me why people left the tea exposed to the direct sunlight for many hours.
Later on, I found “Sun Tea” is a way to heat water to brew tea without heating up the kitchen during hot summer days. While the sun is “cooking up” the sepia/amber colored tea, laughter and smiles surround the shiny glass tea jug. “Sun Tea” is remembered warmly as a part of summer time fun with friends and family.
A tall glass container with tea chilled in fridge is the Japanese version of “summer time tea” that is associated with home and family.
The tea in the container is either barley tea or loose leaf green tea. Making barley tea is a long process–it needs to be boiled long and then cooled down by dipping the kettle in a water bath (to hasten the cooling down process), and then strained into a glass container to be chilled in the fridge.
Making cold green tea doesn’t involve heat. And this is a great way to make a round, smooth tea, because cold temperature slowly infuses less caffeine and more Umami (ooh-mah-me), the savoriness in the tea. The cold brewed tea tastes cleaner and rounder than the same tea made with hot water. Cold brewed green tea goes well with most of the American meals.
I’ve seen green tea products specialized to make “iced tea” in the market; however, the only difference is size of the leaves–they are cut small so the infusion occurs faster. Only in the case with blended teas, the flavors can be more enjoyable as cold. You don’t need a special leaf or tea bag to make “cold brew.” Simply use your favorite loose leaf tea and pure water.
How about “Sun Tea Method” for green tea? As far as green tea is concerned, avoid the sun exposure as sunlight oxidizes and ruins green tea goodness. It would be just fine to have a jar of chilled green tea on the table for everybody to enjoy as long as it is out of direct sunlight.
One of the frequently asked questions about green tea is, “Do I have to use hot water to make green tea?”
Now you know the answer: “No, the water temperature can be room temperature, or even chilled water can be used. No boiling and chilling necessary to enjoy iced green tea.” The same goes with powders, both MATCHA and Sencha Powder. Just mix powder with water, stir well, add ice, and enjoy! In any case, use a clean, good water as always to make a good cup of tea.
If you make a cup of hot tea, and then change it to iced, make a cup a little stronger and pour it over plenty of ice to cool it down quickly and completely. The sudden temperature change increases the crispness and clarity of the tea.
We hope “cold brew” tea is enjoyed with laughter and smiles while the goodness nourishes your body.