We first started making iced tea for Dave Chang at Momofuku Saam Bar in New York, over a decade ago.
Henrietta, our founder, explains:
"At first I had a low opinion of iced tea. I’d tried it countless times and been consistently unimpressed. The flavour seemed to be much more about sugar and flavourings than the tea itself. That is because iced tea has typically been made with cheap and bitter black tea in boiling water, chilled and heavily sweetened. We realised it was time to do things differently."
Our first revolutionary step was to use good tea.
Next, we changed the method and began Cold Infusion.
This is the method for making iced tea that we teach the many illustrious restaurants we now work with around the world, where iced tea is offered as an alternative to wine.
When you put hot water on tea the cell structure of the leaf is ruptured, and the tea begins to oxidise - like a cut apple goes brown. This oxidisation quickly dulls the flavour- within about 20 minutes. And it keeps deteriorating over time.
If you use cold water, however, the flavour of the tea softly seeps out of the leaves, by osmosis, without rupturing the cells. You can keep a cold infused tea for days on end with no reduction in quality.
Even better - the flavours that dissolve in cold water are sweeter and softer than those released in hot water. You don’t dissolve as much tannin, so you don’t need to add sugar; it’s perfect just the way it is. Gentle and refreshing, yet fascinatingly complex.
"It makes me very happy to think that a British Tea Lady started revolutionising iced tea in America. We now work with restaurants around the world - from Noma in Copenhagen to Arcane in Hong Kong - to put iced teas on pairing menus, sitting alongside the world’s best wines or just as a sensational alternative to that dull, parsimonious bottle of water."
Making Cold Infused Tea
The only thing you need is a little patience.
Just water & tea...
Simply measure the dry leaf and cold filtered water - combine in a clean, sealed vessel and pop it in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.
To make things easier why not try our Rare Tea Flask?
You do not have to worry about over steeping – after about 8 hours the tea will have reached equilibrium in the water. (The one exception is our rolled oolongs - it might take up to 48 hours for the water to fully penetrate the leaves and draw out all the flavour).
Whole Leaf Teas
For most whole leaf teas you need roughly 6g of leaf per litre.
For rolled oolongs you'll need about 6 to 10g per litre.
Broken Black Teas
For broken black teas you may need more leaf: 10 to 15g per litre of water.
Every tea is different and unique. Please experiment until you have achieved the exact flavour profile that YOU like.
Strain & serve
Packing a punch...
Once infused, strain the tea through the finest filter you have. This will remove all the particles of tea and keep the liquid crystal clear. If you keep it in the fridge in a sealed bottle it will keep perfectly for three or four days.
It is important to remember that these cold infusions pack quite a punch. Though they taste sweet, silky and elegant, they are laden with caffeine. All that time in the water has allowed the caffeine to fully dissolve. You cannot taste caffeine so please don’t be taken unaware.
What about herbal infusions?
Our herbs and flowers are best made hot and then chilled; because they do not have the delicate cell structure of tea, or bitter properties, you don’t have to worry about them over-extracting in boiling water.
(With the one exception of chamomile - treat like a green tea and infuse at 70°C/158°F.)
Cold Herbal Infusions
Pour boiling water – in the same quantities you would make a hot tea - and then leave to chill. Strain and refrigerate once cold. It should be flavour stable for 3-4 days.
(If you do want to add something to the more savoury South African Wild Rooibos we recommend a flake of sea salt and a drop or two of maple syrup.)
Lastly, please have fun experimenting - and if you have any questions please contact us. We'd be happy to help with any questions you might have.