How to Cold Brew Tea

How to Cold Brew Tea

The simplest technique to cold-brew delicious iced tea

November 4th, 2019

Photo credit: Eleven Madison Park
Chef Justin Iso

Justin Iso is the head pastry chef behind He is the winner of the Christmas Cookie Challenge on Food Network and was named Best Baking and Sweets Blogger by Saveur Magazine. With a background in Japanese confections and French pastry, he brings the best of both worlds into his recipes.

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Yes, you can cold-brew your tea! Not only is cold-brew tea extremely easy to do, it makes a much higher-quality iced tea than the traditional method of hot-brewing. Simply take your tea, place it in room-temperature water, and wait. Right around 24 hours is the ideal amount of time for the tea to finish brewing for a perfect cup.

The Science. Tea is simply an extraction of compunds from the tea leaves into a solvent: water. Hot water is very efficient at pulling out many different compounds from tea leaves such as caffeine and aromatic flavor compounds. Heat also helps to break down the cells so these chemicals are more easily released into the water. But you only want to steep your tea for 1-5 minutes because steeping too long in hot water begins to extract undesirable flavor from tannins–particles that make your tea taste acidic and bitter. But by cold-brewing, or more specifically brewing at room-temperature, the water is able to pull out the flavor and caffeine without too much tannic extraction. The result is a mellow and balanced tea.

This technique comes from Blair Bowman, the tea director at Eleven Madison Park–considered by many to be the best restaurant in the world.


Cold-Brew Iced Tea
  • 1 heaping teaspoon loose-leaf tea
  • 1 cup room-temperature water
  • Ice to serve, optional
Cold-Brew Iced Tea

This is the ratio of tea to use, but you can easily adjust to the size of your container.

Choice of Tea

Not all teas are created equal and some cold-brew better than others. For instance black and green teas work better than white teas. And certain artifical flavorings in some teas taste off and metallic with this more subtle brewing method. These are some of my top picks for cold-brew tea:

Black Tea

Green Tea

Note: Matcha powder does not require the full 24-hours to brew. Simply shake the container vigorously and drink within 30 minutes.


A successful cold-brew needs only your tea, a vessel, and water. Optionally, you can package your tea in tea bags to make it easy to remove. Or you can let your loose-leaf tea float freely in the water and use a sieve to separate them.


  1. Place your loose-leaf tea directly into the jar or into a large teabag. Fill the container with room-temperature water for the amount of tea you are using.

  2. Wait about 24 hours. The color should be the same as if you hot-brewed your tea. Remove the tea leaves from your container and refrigerate. Drink your tea within 1-3 days. Any longer and you risk your tea fermenting and developing off flavors.

  3. Experiment with new flavors, brew times, and quantities. Every tea and palate are unique, and you may want to adjust your technique to develop the best flavor!

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