Cold brewing tea (and coffee) is a relatively recent trend but has been happening in China for at least ten years. I remember being bemused at a Chinese teahouse/restaurant when I was presented with a Cold Brew menu in 2005. Since then I have been experimenting with Cold Brewing and I have to say that I really enjoy it for certain teas especially when the weather gets warmer.
The Cold Brewing process means that a different ratio of the compounds in the leaf are extracted resulting in a taste which you could not replicate with hot brewing. The tea becomes softer with hardly any bitterness or dryness which allows the savoury and sweet notes to shine. I certainly do not prefer it to hot brewed tea but I do think that it has a rightful place in the tea brewing lexicon without being considered a fad or gimmick.
I find that Cold Brewing is particularly suited to fine picked teas made exclusively from the buds and the first couple of leaves. These tend to be Greens, Yellows, Blacks and some Whites. Oolongs and PuErh includes third and fourth leaves and I find that the cold water accetuates a starchy sweetness of which I am not particularly a fan.
The best thing about Cold Brewing is that it allows you to make use of your hot brewed leaves if you feel that they have more to give. Many people will sit and drink a few cups of Gong Fu brewed tea in the morning and then throw the leaves into a bottle of cold water to take with them during the day or leave in the fridge for a delicious iced tea in the evening. Delicious and frugal!
The teas that we tasted are: