When I was little, my mother used to make sun tea. We didn't know that kids shouldn't drink caffein back then but I sure loved a cup of cold sun tea on a hot day! Through my journey into herbalism, I have learned that some herbs brew better in cold water vs hot. Why? Some plants contain volatile oils, which get altered when they are exposed to hot water. By infusing herbs in cold water, these delicate oils can maintain their potency. Herbs like peppermint, chamomile, marshmallow root, slippery elm, blessed thistle and other roots and barks tend to extract best in cold water. Studies indicate that tea brewed cold for 12 hours contain more antioxidants and one half to two thirds less the amount of caffein than a cup of hot tea.
Hot water dissolves starches and break down sugars, acids and salts within the plant. Brewing tea with hot water is convenient as it takes little time to extract beneficial properties. Hot water will also pull out tannins, lactones and iridoids, which can balance the body, relieve mood swings and fight free radicals within the body. The downside of hot water is that it breaks down the herbs quickly. Regardless of temperature, both cold and hot brewed tea are best drank within 48 hours. A french press is a great tool to brew loose leaf tea. If you have the time and the patience, cold water may be the way to go to maximize the health benefits from tea.
Cold Brew Recipes:
To make sun tea, get a glass container and add 3-6 bags of your choice of tea or 3-6 teaspoons of loose leaf in a gallon of water in the sun for as little as 2 hours or as long as 12 hours. If you like sweet tea, you can sweeten with agave or honey to taste and add some lemon if so desired. You can always infuse your tea over night in the refrigerator! Another cold infusion that has been overlooked through the years is moon tea. Moon tea is a great way to bring in feminine energy. This recipe calls for lemon balm, motherwort, blessed thistle, and cramp bark. Add 3-6 teaspoons of the blend per gallon and set out overnight during a full moon.