Most tea is enjoyed as a hot beverage, but some people like cold brewing tea, especially during summer. Drinking cold-brewed tea can offer a quick refreshment, but not every type of tea is suitable to brew with cold water.
Puerh tea has become more popular and people are even trying their hand at cold brewing puerh tea. Is it actually safe to cold brew puerh tea? This article discusses whether you can cold-brew puerh tea or if it’s better to avoid it.
What is cold brewing tea?
Cold brewing tea is a process of brewing tea with cold or room-temperature water. This process is different from the hot-brewing method as it doesn’t require boiling water and it leaves the tea leaves in contact with the water for a long time.
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Cold brewing is typically done in an infuser, but there are also some special devices designed for it. You can cold brew tea in several ways.
The first way to cold brew tea is to infuse tea leaves with hot water, remove the leaves and let the tea cool down until it’s cold. However, this method is not done that often as it can result in unwanted flavors. It’s not really cold-brewing as you’re only drinking cold tea while using hot water to infuse.
The best way to cold brew tea is to infuse tea leaves using cold or room-temperature water and let it steep for a couple of hours. You could even leave it overnight. Remove the leaves, maybe add some ice and you’re good to go!
What is puerh tea?
Pu-erh tea is a type of dark tea (hēichá or 黑茶 in Chinese) and is really popular amongst tea lovers for a variety of reasons. In order to be classified as pu-erh tea, the tea needs to be from China’s Yunnan province, it has to be from a Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica plant (known as a large leaf variety) and there has to be any form of microbial fermentation after production.
The two types of puerh tea are raw (sheng) puerh and ripe (shu puerh). Young raw puerh tea is similar to green tea as it’s quite fresh and didn’t go through any fermentation yet. Aged raw puerh has gone through fermentation because it happens slowly over time.
Ripe puerh undergoes artificial fermentation during production and is completely different from raw sheng puerh. During production, tea leaves are piled in a hot and humid environment to ferment the leaves. This results in dark tea leaves that produce dark tea liquor that looks like coffee.
Cold brewing puerh tea
Because of the differences between raw and ripe puerh, not every type of puerh tea is suitable for cold brewing. Aged raw puerh and ripe puerh go through a fermentation process, which implies that they contain all kinds of bacteria and fungi that make fermentation possible.
These bacteria and fungi are not a problem when you use boiling water because they can’t survive in hot water. If you cold brew ripe or aged raw puerh, these bacteria and fungi end up in your cup, which is less desirable.
If you really want to cold brew aged raw puerh, it’s always best to rinse the tea leaves with boiling water first and then cold brew the leaves.
Aged tea leaves usually have some dust and sand on them as well, so it’s always better to rinse the leaves in order to remove dust and other unwanted particles.
Cold brewing raw puerh tea
The best puerh tea to cold brew is raw puerh tea. Raw puerh hasn’t gone through any fermentation so it contains fewer bacteria and fungi. Finished raw puerh is similar to green tea as the leaves are still green and the flavors are fresher and brighter than aged raw and ripe puerh.
Even though it’s suitable for cold brewing, it’s better to rinse the leaves with hot water first. During production, the tea leaves may have collected some dust and sand, and rinsing the leaves removes most of it.
How to cold brew puerh tea
When I cold brew puerh tea, we always follow the same process:
- Put some tea leaves in a tea strainer.
- Rinse the leaves with hot water to remove any unwanted particles.
- Let the leaves cool for a bit.
- Steep the leaves in cold water.
- Let it infuse for a couple of hours (or even overnight) and remove the leaves.
- If it’s really hot outside, you could add ice cubes.
Why should you cold brew puerh tea?
Cold brewing puerh tea is often done by people who want to reduce the caffeine content of their drink or who want to enjoy puerh tea without any bitterness.
The main benefits of cold-brewing puerh tea are: it is less astringent, it has less caffeine, and it tastes smoother than hot-brewed puerh.
Brewing puerh tea can offer a great experience when using hot water, but cold brewing puerh tea can be a completely different experience. Not every type of puerh tea is suitable for cold brewing so it’s important to know what you are drinking. Young raw puerh work best to cold brew.
It’s always best to rinse the tea leaves with hot water first to get rid of any unwanted particles. Hot water removes sand and dust and kills some bacteria and fungi. After this initial rinse, it should be safe to cold brew your precious puerh leaves and drink a refreshing cup of puerh tea.
You could even add ice cubes to get a real refreshment on a hot summer’s day!