Keeping Cool with Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee and Tea

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.

What exactly is ‘cold-brewed’?

‘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

Ingredients:

  • 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!)

for finishing:

  • ice cubes
  • milk, to taste
  • sweetener, to taste
  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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

ingredients:

  • 6 tea bags

for finishing

  • ice cubes
  • sweetener, to taste
  • lemon slices (optional)
  1. Place the tea bags in a gallon jar or jug. Fill with cold, filtered water. Cover and refrigerate overnight or 12 hours.
  2. 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?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. To be honest I’ve never cold-brewed my iced tea before, but I’m totally going to give it a go this weekend (and thanks for the interesting article on sun-tea). I don’t like coffee but someone in my house really does, so maybe I’ll surprise him with your cold coffee on Father’s Day!

  2. Very interesting, Aimee, and informative. (I love the pretty beverage glasses.) I’ll be attempting this method for sure.
    .-= Jennifer Jo’s last blog: Concerning cilantro =-.

  3. I like the sound of this, Aimee! Will definitely plan on trying it soon.
    .-= Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool’s last blog: Lessons Learned while Camping =-.

  4. I prefer honey as a sweetener in my iced tea so the cold brew method doesn’t work very well for me. I boil my water and add the honey while it’s still hot, then I let it cool down and put it in the fridge.
    I’ve always been a tea drinker but I think it’s time to try some iced coffee, it looks like a nice change. I’m sure my husband (the die hard coffee drinker) will appreciate it.
    .-= Lisa’s last blog: Is Using GPS Eco-friendly? =-.

    • I love honey in iced tea too, especially with mint tea. What I do is just heat up the honey (instead of all that water) until it is runny and stir it into the cold tea.

      I hope your hubby likes the iced coffee! It’s a pretty great summer option for us caffeine addicts.

      • Hmm, heat the honey, I hadn’t thought of that one. Thanks for the tip. I’ll try that, it’s definitely more energy efficient.
        .-= Lisa’s last blog: Is Using GPS Eco-friendly? =-.

        • Also, i like to add a pinch of sugar and some french vanilla syrup to my tea.
          All you need to do is add the sugar, honey, and favored syrup (this is coffee syrup, by the way, haha!) to a small glass cup or similar, and add just enough hot water to dissolve… this works best for hot tea too, as when it is mixed, all the sweeteners/flavors are evenly distributed… and that’s how i make my concentrated sweetener!

    • I boil a small amount of water, add the honey to disolve then fill the rest of the jar with cold, filtered water and steep in the fridge. This works better for my kids as they can help themselves more easily (sweetner already added).

  5. I like the idea of cold brewing iced tea. It makes much more sense to me. I am a big fan of hot green tea but also enjoy iced tea. Adding some lemon makes a perfect summer drink. I can’t wait to enjoy one that I make!! I juts may have to do this today. :)

  6. I have been loving the cold-brewed coffee (mostly decaf) for sometime now. You know I’m a sucker for the greener aspects of it ;). It’s also delicious. I’m going to try this with herbal and green teas next.

    I do not put mine in the refrigerator, though. I just leave them out on the counter overnight. Do you see any problem with that?
    .-= Shannon’s last blog: Winner of the US Wellness Meats $85 Gift Certificate and a 15% off Discount Code =-.

    • Well, it will steep just as well in the refrigerator. Plus when you want to drink it, it is already cold!

      I imagine there are similar health concerns to the sun tea, although that probably depends on how hot your counters get!

  7. I’m going to have to try the iced coffee concentrate. That sounds like a great way to do it.
    .-= Tiffany’s last blog: Vacation Food – What We Ate and How We Packed It to Disney World =-.

  8. Absolutely love that I’ve found a way to cold brew coffee, without any fancy equipment. On my way to the store to buy coffee filters and a ground coffee…Ciao!… and thank you!

  9. Cold brewed iced tea is great! I discovered it a week ago. Now I’m out of tea and desperately need to go to the store for more! :)

  10. Sounds easy enough… and if it’s anything like the stuff you’ve served me in the past, it’s certainly worth trying. Not sure B would go for any “original” iced-tea though. He loves his sugary version too much!

  11. I’ve never cold-brewed tea before. My grandmother made sun tea and my husband hot brews tea (he make THE BEST sweet tea). We should give this a try, especially if you get a caffeine buzz from it! He’s trying to kick the habit of soda (lethal Dr. Pepper) and now drinks tea instead.
    .-= Melissa’s last blog: Strawberry Gelato =-.

  12. Great, timely article. Just today, I decided to give up my biggest vice – diet soda. Looking forward to trying both the cold brewed coffee and iced tea…and I like the idea of adding fresh mint. I bet you could even add some frozen, macerated berries for a subtle sweetness.

  13. I am a huge fan of iced tea and I absolutely love Starbuck’s Passion Ice Tea. But even though it’s cheaper than their coffee, it costs way more than if I could make it myself! So I set out on a mission to see if I could replicate it. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on it as I am not the most patient person in the world, but I found something that works for me. I use Celestial Seasons Raspberry Zinger and then I grab a few mint leaves from my back yard, crush them, and brew them all together (cold). It’s not EXACTLY the same but it is delicious! Cold brewing is the way to go!

  14. This looks great! So perfect for summer! I was just thinking the other day as I sipped my hot tea in the afternoon, and it made me that much hotter, that I needed to figure out a good way to make cold tea. I will definitely be trying this soon, and I love the idea of not using extra energy! Will the cold tea work with green tea?

  15. I am super excited to try both the coffee and the tea. We are HUGE iced tea drinkers and the only way my husband will drink coffee is if it’s iced and I had yet to find a good method for this. Thank you!
    .-= Kayla’s last blog: An epic tale of Jordan and Mommy: =-.

  16. we love cold-brewed coffee. it’s our brewing method of choice (even in the winter! i just warm with milk on the stove or, when i’m in a rush, in the microwave). delicious, low acid caffeinated perfection. Oslo’s Thor blend (a local Bklyn roaster; http://oslocoffee.com/?page_id=3) is my FAVVVVOOORITE! it’s available online! second choice (yes, second) is Stumptown’s Hairbender blend. yummmy, too. –Stacie

  17. I make iced herbal teas with honey for my family. I do heat up a couple cups of water with the honey, though, (like another commentor) then fill with filtered cold water. My kids/husband enjoy this and we used this at our youngest’s recent birthday party. I didn’t know if the other children would like it since many are used to pop at parties but everyone seemed to enjoy it.

  18. Stephanie says:

    Thank You so much for this recipe/idea, I have a horrible addiction to Dunkin Dounts Iced Tea, year round, and I was never able to re-create it at home, and NOW I CAN!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry I had to yell, I make it before I go to bed I use a gallon jug of water and about 15 tea bags, it makes it a little darker, but the same smooth taste add a little sugar blend Splenda and I am good to go!
    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

  19. This is THE only way to make iced coffee. I’ve been doing this for a while and now have a wee habit, every afternoon I have an iced coffee. I was at an airport last weekend with a long layover, craving an iced coffee. The barista made it with hot-brewed coffee dumped over ice…oh my gosh, it was so bitter I couldn’t finish it, even after adding tons of cream (not my usual) and agave. I ended up tossing it in the trash, so wasteful! If coffee places just kept cold-brewed coffee in their fridge, they’d be able to make the most addictive iced coffees.

    If it’s cold brewed you don’t even need sugar, really, because you’re not hiding all that acid and bitterness.

  20. Aimee, I’ve been making both recipes regularly, and yesterday I posted them: http://bit.ly/aGx31W

    Thanks bunches!
    .-= Jennifer Jo’s last blog: Two super-cool avoidance techniques =-.

  21. I love finding new ways to make tea! Since this is Natonal Iced Tea Month, I retweeted this and posted this on my Facebook fan page:
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bartlett-TN/Victorias-Traveling-Tea-Party/41954777069#!/pages/Bartlett-TN/Victorias-Traveling-Tea-Party/41954777069?ajaxpipe=1&__a=6

    Happy Sipping!

  22. Hi Aimee.

    Enjoyed reading your blog on iced coffee and cold brewed concentrate.

    Here is an alternative, our company makes cold brewed shelf stable coffee concentrate. That way you can enjoy it anywhere anytime.

    I am offering you a bottle to enjoy if you will write back to me and provide me with a street address. You will enjoy it on those days when you dont’ feel like making your own.

    Kind regards.

    Jules

    jkragen@ryancoffee.com
    twitter@icedcoffeedaddy

  23. Wonderful post Aimee,
    I’ve never tried cold brewing coffee but on hot summer days I usually pour a sweetened double espresso with lemon rinds over ice. I love coffee and I’m always willing to try new things. I look forward to trying your recipes.
    Chef Vanda’s last post: I Love My Coffee says Chef Vanda

  24. My husband tried some cold-brewed in a coffee shop that he liked, so we are making this for the first time now… putting it straight in the French press in the refrigerator. We would have left it out on the counter, but thought we’d try it this way in case of any health concern. The only disadvantage of the press is that it could be hard to find room in the refrigerator for the tall plunger before it is pressed down… so I can see why you’d use the jar! Looking forward to drinking it tomorrow!

  25. Really like the Earth-friendly approach suggested by this post. Try http://www.FridgeBarista.com for another simple, clean, and affordable way to make a large quanity of delicious cold brewed coffee all at once.

  26. I have never tried cold brewed coffee before, but I am a self confessed coffee addict so this is now top of my list to try.

    Thanks for the excellent ideas.
    Jo’s last post: Low Fat Recipes

  27. Janis neill says:

    love cold coffees and teas .also glass straws help with the amount of plastic out there.

  28. Thanks for the great info! I’m going to try the tea method. I use a Toddy maker to cold brew my coffee already, but when I have already-ground coffee that’s too fine for that filter, I’m going to use the quart jar method.
    I have a question; where did you get the wonderful glass straws in your pictures? I love them and would definitely love to find out where to get them.

    Blessings!!
    ~Tami

  29. Candace says:

    Thanks! Trying both of them. Doing one of coffee and three different teas. Regular, Cranberry/Green and Lemon Ginger. Can’t wait to try them!

  30. Thanks so much! Been trying to find an easy way to make iced tea and coffee so i can slowly wean myself off Starbucks. Their drinks are delicious, but take a huge bite out of my wallet!

    Thanks again!

  31. Mary Ellen says:

    I have been drinking cold brewed coffee for several years and really prefer it. i drink my coffee black without sweeteners or milk and it really taste great and saves energy a s well. FYI, I would add Stevia rather than Agave as now there is evidence that agave is so high processed that there is little nutritional benefit and it still contains the same amount of sugar as regular sweeteners so, to me, agave is highly overrated.

  32. I developed a love for iced coffee while living in Japan. They serve it with heavy cream and simple syrup as a sweetener. It is delicious. I have been wanting to try this cold brew method so glad I stumbled upon your website. Thanks.

  33. I just made some “Mexican chocolate” cold brewed coffee. Now if that’s not motivation to get up in the morning, I don’t know what is :). Thanks for the info! Btw, happy belated anniversary. My husband and I are actually celebrating our 10th next week by coming to Canada!! I will wave from the plane :)

  34. Thanks! Trying a combo of mint/green tea tonight. It never made since to heat/cool and then have to wait a long time to drink.
    Jessica’s last post: Whatcha Reading?

  35. I am so excited to find this post!! I’ve always wondered how retsurant iced-tea was so much less bitter than the one I tried to make by steeping in hot water and then cooling it down!!
    Cannot wait to try this!
    Chloe @ iheartboxes’s last post: Hard Boiled Eggs

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