Cold-brewed green tea is one of life's delightfully simple pleasures. Cold-brewing is easy to do, and it produces tea with a mellower taste and clearer appearance compared to hot-brewed tea. And if you are concerned about caffeine intake, brewing with cold water releases less caffeine than brewing with hot water.
A Simpler Method
Cold-brewing is a simpler alternative to the more traditional hot-brewing method. Unlike with hot-brewing, you do not need to heat water, monitor the water temperature or keep track of how many minutes the tea leaves have been steeping. Cold-brewing is time efficient. You can make a pitcher of green tea and keep it in the refrigerator for a few days -- ready to drink whenever your thirst arises.
Cold-brewing draws fewer tannins into the tea compared to hot-brewing. Tannins are a type of polyphenol, an antioxidant compound in tea leaves that imparts an astringent taste to the tea. Fewer tannins result in a smoother, sweeter tea. And, fewer tannins may also have a health benefit. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, tannins can inhibit the amount of iron absorbed from foods. This effect is only seen with iron that comes from vegetables and grains, or nonheme iron, not iron from animal sources such as meat, poultry and fish.
Free Radical Scavenging
Cold-water green tea extracts are more effective in scavenging free radicals -- unstable atoms or molecules that contribute to age-related diseases -- according to a study published in 2008 in the journal "LWT -- Food Science and Technology." The study researchers did find a drawback to cold-brewed tea. The cold-water green tea extracts had less antioxidant activity than the hot-water extracts. A tradeoff seems to exist because fewer antioxidants -- specifically tannins -- in cold-brewed tea give it a milder flavor but may also result in decreased health benefits associated with antioxidants.
How to Cold Brew
Cold-brewing involves bringing the dried tea leaves in to contact with water, placing the mixture in the refrigerator and letting it steep for eight to 12 hours. The tea leaves infuse the water with flavor, color and active substances, such as antioxidants and caffeine. Use about 4 teaspoons of loose-leaf tea or four tea bags per quart of water. You can put loose-leaf tea directly in the water or use a tea filter or infuser. When the tea is done steeping, strain the leaves from the water or remove the tea filter or infuser.
Based near Boulder, Colo., Amber Olson has been writing health-related articles since 2009. She has served as a respiratory therapist, exercise specialist and yoga instructor. Olson holds a bachelor's degree in health, physical education and recreation from South Dakota State University and an associate's degree in respiratory care from Dakota State University.