Aside from a tall glass of water, cold-brewed iced tea and coffee may be the most simple beverages you can make this summer. Literally, “just add water” is all the effort required and the results speak for themselves. I’m never without at least one of these drinks in the fridge from June to September, and more often than not, they are both on hand, just waiting for company to drop over or to fuel a hectic day.
‘Cold-brewed’ is tea or coffee that is steeped in cold water for about 12 hours. Why boil water (which requires energy) to make tea or coffee, only to cool it down again over ice, (which takes more energy to make)? Instead try a cold-brewed method by combining your favorite tea or ground coffee with cold water, allowing it to infuse overnight, then simply straining and savoring!
Much more energy-conscious, don’t you think?
Because of the lengthy brew time, cold-brew requires some planning ahead, but that seems to be the only downside. Connoisseurs agree that cold-brewed coffee is less bitter and acidic, with very ‘clean’ flavors overall. It is excellent black or ‘white’; my preference is to add a generous pour of whole milk and a teaspoon of agave syrup.
A word of warning: cold-brewed coffee and tea is believed to contain more caffeine than regular coffee and tea, so watch out for that super-buzz!
Recipe: Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee
adapted slightly from NYTimes.com
- 1 cup coffee, ground quite coarse, as you can see. (We love the Peru Organic coffee beans from Greeley Road Cafe. They’re fair trade, too!)
- ice cubes
- milk, to taste
- sweetener, to taste
- Using a funnel, pour coffee grounds into a quart jar. Fill jar to the very brim with cold, filtered water. Cover and let steep in the refrigerator overnight or 12 hours.
- Strain through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve OR a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Alternately, pour contents into a 4-cup French Press and slowly plunge the coffee. Now you have iced coffee concentrate!
- In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk and sweetener. Store for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Yield: 3 cups coffee concentrate
Tip: Dilute some concentrate with water, then pour into ice cube trays and freeze into cubes. Add to your next iced coffee and enjoy it full strength, and not watered down from regular ice.
NOTE: To make hot coffee, dilute concentrate one-to-one with filtered water and heat in the microwave.
Cold-Brewed Iced Tea versus Sun-Tea
Sun-Tea, iced tea that is brewed by sitting a jar of tea and water in the warm sun for a few hours, has a serious following and loyal fans, but it is not without risks. An interesting article on The Dark Side of Sun Tea speaks of how bacterial growth is encouraged in this method, and that is a chance I am not willing to take, especially since it is just as easy to brew tea in the fridge.
In the scorching summer weeks, I make this tea in a gallon jar to ensure there is always some around. I enjoy it best with a little agave syrup, a squeeze of lemon, and topped up with ice.
Recipe: Cold-Brewed Iced Tea
- 6 tea bags
- ice cubes
- sweetener, to taste
- lemon slices (optional)
- Place the tea bags in a gallon jar or jug. Fill with cold, filtered water. Cover and refrigerate overnight or 12 hours.
- Remove tea bags. Pour into a glass, add ice cubes and a slice of lemon. Add sweetener if desired. Enjoy!
Are you going to give ‘cold-brewed’ a chance? What is your preference, coffee or tea?