Seeing as our recent dusting of snow has melted, the bitter North wind retreated back to its Arctic lair, and temperatures finally nudged back above freezing, I’m starting to become slightly more optimistic regarding the eventual return of clement weather.
Soon, hopefully, it will be all about long, hot afternoons under the parasol, home made burgers sizzling on the barbecue, and a long, cold drink in your hand.
I’ve been hearing a lot about cold steeping tea in the fridge for some time now, and so decided to give it a try.
Preliminary research suggested that a tea:water ratio of 8-12 grams per litre would be somewhere in the ballpark.
So, for my first experiment I decided to try cold-steeping the Mao Jian I recently blogged about.
The process was simplicity itself.
I dropped 6g of the dry tea into a food grade lidded plastic container, added 500ml of filtered water at room temperature, popped the lid on, and placed the container in the fridge.
Ten hours later I ran the cold brew through a tea strainer into a wine glass over ice. That’s it.
The results were very interesting. The astringency was reduced to barely noticeable levels, and the tea had a very sweet, pleasant taste.
A slice of lemon and a few mint leaves wouldn’t go amiss, I reckon. If you were feeling daring you might even drop a slice of cucumber in, too.
One thing was pointed out to me – as the ice cubes melt they might dilute the flavour of the tea. Fair comment – next time I’ll use the duck drink coolers.
Because this particular batch was based around a green tea, the taste was still on the less than robust side. As a stand alone drink it worked very well indeed, but I finished the batch off alongside our evening meal which contained, amongst other things, Chorizo sausage and a lot of paprika, which utterly overwhelmed the taste of the tea. It was like a child soprano trying to make herself heard at a football match.
The same principle also applies to black/red teas. The general consensus seems to be that you’ll have to experiment with each individual tea in order to find the optimal steeping time for your personal taste. I have read that it’s virtually impossible to oversteep teas using this method, though, and so if in doubt it’s best to err on the side of longer steeping times.
As I write I’ve got a second batch on the go. I’m trying this infusion in a wider bottomed glass pot, the idea being that as the leaf will be more spread out, it should have better contact with the water, and so hopefully extract more flavour. I’m also upping the infusion time to somewhere in the vicinity of 12 hours.
With luck, I’ll have nailed the technique long before it’s time to reach for the sunscreen and shades again.
Now, where’s my sun-hat…?