Cold Brew and Iced Tea for Summer - Chado June 2023
Summertime and the living is (T)easy.
It is summer in Canada, and it is summer in Japan. Vancouver is hot, and the tea-producing regions in Japan are hotter.
Japan is a small country geographically; it is about the same size as California. Most of the tea is produced in the ‘bottom half’ of Japan, and that area is typically hot and humid at this time of year.
Spare a thought for the farmers in Japan at this time of year – the first harvest of the tea is mainly done for teas like Sencha, and shaded teas like Gykuro are now being harvested. Lots of care and attention is being given to the plants as they are watered, fed and trimmed in preparation for the second harvest, which is starting to happen on many farms already.
Because it's hot we would talk about some teas to cool you down.
You may be surprised to hear that a lot of tea consumed in Japan is consumed cold. The tea is typically made with hot water but is consumed cold – this is iced tea versus cold-brew tea. Lots of iced tea is sold from vending machines. As an aside, in the US, the US Tea Association states that of the 84 billion servings of tea per year in the US, between 75-80% are iced teas.
Japan has a vast vending machine culture – if you can crave something to eat or drink in the middle of the night, you can find a vending machine to buy it from. The vending machines over there can serve what you would expect – coca cola, chocolate bars – they can also serve beer, cigarettes and, of course, lots of tea – both hot and cold. According to the people that should know about such things, there is one vending machine for every 25 people in Japan.
Egg Vending Machine! - Image by JoshBerglund19 at flickr
Some Teas to Help You Keep Cool
It makes sense to drink cold liquids when it's hot. So that’s one reason for trying some cold brewed or iced tea.
Another reason is that tea prepared at cold temperatures differs from tea prepared using hot water - the chemistry involved differs.
When we prepare tea with hot water, the water acts as a solvent causing the soluble compounds in tea to be extracted into the water – this is called the infusion process, and we all are familiar with it.
Green tea contains chemicals called polyphenols that include compounds such as catechins and flavonoids – these are what gives the tea its taste and color. The speed and efficiency of the extraction of these substances from the tea leaves are helped by higher water temperatures. The hot water also releases volatile aromatic compounds during brewing, giving us the characteristic tea aroma. Finally, caffeine which is present in tea, is a soluble natural stimulant that dissolves in the water; the hotter the water and the longer the brewing time affect the amount of caffeine extracted.
When we brew tea in cold water, all the chemical reactions mentioned above happen but happen more slowly and can be less ‘efficient.’ For example, when tea is cold brewed, the amount of caffeine in the prepared tea is less, the amount of catechins will be less, and so the tea will likely feel more mellow. The color of cold brewed tea may be more intensely green than the same tea brewed in hot water; this is because hot water causes a small amount of oxidation in the leaves which does not occur in cold brewing. If the aroma of tea is important to your enjoyment, then you will be glad to hear that it will be present and maybe enhanced in cold-brewed tea as long as it is allowed to brew for sufficient time.
Fortunately, Amino acids, which are also present in green tea, particularly L-theanine, which contributes to the sweetness of umami of the tea, is released regardless of water temperature.
We hope you give our cold brews a try. We have two specially designed tea bag teas and one loose-leaf tea, and we have a novel way to try a gyokuro that might surprise you.
Very convenient and versatile! Our Signature green tea bags work for Hot and Cold water.
This green tea bag contains a blend of Sencha, Hojicha and Matcha. The Hojicha’s roasting aroma adds extra flavor to these tea bags, and the combination of all three types makes it possible to deliver a tasty tea experience.
This tea can be enjoyed hot or cold and can be hot-brewed or cold-brewed.
Tea made with this large tea bag provides a rich and deep taste. Experience this cold-brew green tea from Kagoshima. The 7g large triangular tea bag contains the first flush of deeply steamed (Fukamushi) green tea leaves, cut into small pieces to work well for cold-water brewing.
This tea is a traditional Genmaicha, Japanese comfort tea. This Genmaicha Premium consists of first flush medium steamed Sencha blended with roasted Japanese brown rice. The classic blending of rice and Sencha green tea creates a Nutty, toasty taste.
This is an example of a tea normally brewed in hot water; in fact, we advise this particular tea to be brewed in slightly hotter water than usual - about 85°C (185°F).
We can, however, cold-brew this tea to significant effect.,
Take 5 grams of tea, add 500 ml of cold water and leave to brew in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours but overnight works very well.
The cold brewing method enhances the roasted rice aroma of this tea because hot water results in more rapid evaporation of the aromatic chemicals within the rice.
We have had good success cold-brewing most of our Sencha teas; the Organic Sencha E Premium works very well.
Our last idea for cooling teas is something we did not try till recently. This is iced-brewed Gyokuro. We know that some of our customers love their Gyokuro and have the preparation down to a fine art, but this technique is worth trying. We enjoyed it.
Take six cubes of ice and pour into a teapot - this equates to about 200ml of water when melted. Add 5 grams of Gyokuro tea; we used Gyokuro Yame White Label. Leave for 12 hours in the refrigerator.
The ice should melt, and you are left with a deep green gyokuro tea that is cold, refreshing and has the gyokuro taste. Give it a try, and let us know.
Have a break - have a Yoku Moku.
After all that science, it's nice to sit back and enjoy some quality cookies.
A friend of ours recently returned from a trip to Japan. She said she had never seen so many tourists in Japan. Japan was closed for a bit longer due to Covid than most countries, and it seems they are making up for it now with many visitors.
Our friend’s hometown is near Kyoto, and it seems Kyoto is the place to be this summer, and it's even more busy than usual. If you get the chance to visit Kyoto, our advice would be to take it – it is a city that does not disappoint and is a beautiful melding of a modern city with excellent amenities intermingled with fabulous old buildings, temples and gardens.
Back to the cookies, she did not just bring back stories of Japanese tourism but also some great treats, including Yoku Moku Matcha Chocolate. These delicate butter cookies are topped with high-quality matcha-infused chocolate and then rolled into cigar-shaped treats. Strangely enough, the Yoku Moku brand was started 40 years ago in Japan and was inspired by a small Swiss town called, Jokkmokk, which a Japanese tourist visited that was famous for confectionary and biscuits; the tourist, Noriichi Fujinawa started the brand when back in Japan.
It seems matcha is finding its way into almost everything these days – you can have matcha ramen, matcha cola, and matcha chicken burgers in Australia. Even make an at-home matcha curry using this Matcha Curry sauce mix
We will likely give some of these a pass, but the long-established ‘made in heaven’ combination of high-quality chocolate, and good matcha powder is always a hit.
We do not sell chocolates – it's just as well as the speed at which these disappeared from our lunch room we likely would be ‘unexpectedly out of stock’ all the time, but these are great. A lot of the Yoku Moku outlets in Japan are very swish, some with private tasting rooms, so if you get the chance, get yourself or some lucky friend a treat