Cold Brew Green Tea explained by Tea Experts

While hot tea seems to get all the attention, cold brew green tea is a great alternative, particularly for the summertime. Not only is the temperature of these teas cooler, but the flavor can completely change, with some people even preferring the taste of cold brew green tea. In this article, we are going to cover the basics of cold brew green tea by going over each type of Japanese green tea and how to prepare it. We’ll also go through the best green teas to use for making cold brew!

What is Cold Brew Green Tea?

Cold brew green tea simply refers to tea that has been brewed using cool or room temperature water. Usually when we think of tea, we think of infusing the leaves into warm or hot water, but this is not always the case. Tea can be prepared with cooler water and served either cold over ice, or slightly chilled. Later, we will get into the benefits of cold brew green tea and why you may want to start making your own at home.

Cold Brew Green Tea

Why Cold Brew Green Tea at Home

There are quite a few benefits to making cold brew green tea at home, but the main one comes down to the temperature. People tend to enjoy less tea in the warmer months, because drinking hot tea can make you feel too warm, particularly on a hot summer day. The solution is not to enjoy less tea, but rather to learn how to prepare cold brew green tea at home.

It is rare to find a tea shop that can prepare cold brew green tea, so it’s sometimes best to prepare your own! There are some simple steps you can follow to make a great tasting and refreshing cold brew green tea at home. Let’s get started!

Cold brewing method:

When it comes to cold brew green tea, there are 3 basic methods. These methods all have different advantages and disadvantages, and we are going to cover them here.

Cold brewing method 1 - Cool water

This is the most basic and most obvious way to create cold brew green tea. The standard cold brewing is called “mizudashi” in Japan. You can use cool or room temperature water and brew the leaves, just as you would a normal hot brew green tea. This process should only take between 1-3 hours, and the flavor turns out great! There is a method that could yield a slightly better flavor, but it could take more time.

Step 1 to Cold brew green tea

      • add 5-10 grams of loose leaf tea to a glass or a pitcher

Step 2 to Cold brew green tea

      • Pour in 500ml of cool or room temperature filtered water

Step 3 to Cold brew green tea

      • Let the leaves sit in the fridge for 1-3 hours

Step 4 to Cold brew green tea

      • Pour the tea through a filter to separate the leaves from the tea and enjoy!

Cold brewing method 2 - Using ice

This method of creating cold brew green tea is called “kooridashi” in Japan. To prepare this tea, you first can fill up a teapot with ice cubes made from filtered water. Next, you can put 5 grams of tea leaves on top of the ice cubes and wait for them to melt. The reason you don’t add the tea leaves first and the ice cubes on top is that the weight of the ice cubes can crush the tea leaves and release bitterness into the tea. 

The melting process can take a long time, and it is one of the downsides of this method of cold brew green tea preparation. The positive side of using the “kooridashi” method to prepare cold brew green tea is that it uses lower temperature water, close to the freezing point to brew the tea. This has benefits we will discuss later.

Cold brewing method 3 - Cooling hot tea

This method of preparing cold brew green tea is the worst, and most would argue that the tea created can’t be considered cold brew green tea

The name cold brew green tea refers to tea leaves that have been brewed with cool or cold water, not with hot water. By preparing tea normally and then cooling it off later, you are not really preparing cold brew green tea, but rather hot brew green tea served cold.

Cold Brew Green Tea Basics

1 - Best Japanese Green Tea to cold brew

Our  picks for the best cold brew green tea are as follows:

  • Shizuku Sencha: The shizuku was designed to be the ultimate cold brew green tea. When we sat down with the farmers in Chiran, they introduced us to this tea for the first time as a cold brew. The tea is made by combining sencha leaves with matcha powder. The matcha powder is released into the first infusion of the tea, which provides a powerful taste, and vibrant green color. 
  • Fukamushi Yamaga no Sato: This deep steamed tea works exceptionally well as a cold brew green tea. When it is prepared with cool water, you get more of the sweeter and fruity notes, with less of the bitterness. The Fukamushi Yamaga from Mr. Sato in Shizuoka picks up these pleasant lychee berry notes that are very unique in a green tea.
  • Gyokuro Karigane: This can be considered both a stem tea and a gyokuro tea, and it works great as a cold brew green tea. The use of the stems makes this tea much more mild compared with a Gyokuro, and when it’s prepared cold, it picks up these cool cucumber and cantaloupe melon notes. The tea is nice and sweet without being overpowering.
  • Gyokuro Sasa Hime: If you want a cold brew green tea that has a lot of strength, you can go for the Gyokuro Sasa Hime. This tea has a well-balanced umami flavor and some pleasant floral notes. The bitterness is reduced when the tea is prepared cold, and while most gyokuro is best in small doses, this tea can really be drunk cold throughout the day.
  • Noike Hojicha: A surprisingly good cold brew green tea is the Noike Hojicha. The reason this comes as a surprise is that hojicha is normally considered to be a warming tea, and it is more common to drink it during the colder months. That being said, the tea also works great as a cold brew green tea, with more of the caramel and chocolate notes coming through.

2 - How Long to Cold Brew

The optimal time for a cold brew green tea is about 3 hours. You may find that 1 hour dozen produce quite enough flavor, whereas when you leave the tea brewing overnight, the flavor can become too extreme. 

A good solution is to prepare both your cold brew and hot brew teas at the same time. In the morning, you can prepare a teapot full of warm tea and also set aside a pitcher full of leaves and cool water and let that sit in the fridge. Later on in the day, possibly around lunch time, your cold brew green tea should be ready, and you can kick off the second half of your day with a cool refreshing drink.

3 - Equipment for Cold Brew

The most important tool to have when preparing cold brew green tea is a filter. Once the leaves are done brewing, you will want to separate them out so they don’t end up in your drink. The kyusu teapot has a built in filter that does this automatically, but if you are using another vessel like a glass or a jar, you will need to pour it through a filter.

Besides a filter, you don’t need much else to prepare cold brew green tea, you can simply use a glass, mug, jar or pitcher. You just need to provide a space for the leaves and water to infuse together. If possible, you may prefer to use glass material so you can watch the leaves as they brew!

Guide for Cold Brew Japanese Green Tea with ingredients & instructions 

#1 Matcha Cold Brew Preparation

Matcha is different from other types of tea because it is in powdered form. This means rather than infusing it into water, it is mixed directly into water. For this reason, you technically can’t make a cold brew matcha, but you can prepare it with cold water!

  • Step 1: Add 2 grams of matcha powder into a bowl
  • Step 2: Pour in 100ml of cool water
  • Step 3: Mix the matcha powder into the water with the bamboo matcha whisk
  • Step 4: pour this mixture into a blender along with an additional cup of cool water
  • Step 5: blend the drink until its foamy and then pour it out into a glass!

#2 Sencha Cold Brew Preparation 

Sencha is a great tea to prepare as a cold brew green tea. These teas will take on a smoother, even frutier taste profile when prepared cold.

  • Step 1: put 5 grams of sencha tea into a glass
  • Step 2: Pour in 500ml of cool water
  • Step 3: Let the leaves sit in the fridge for 3 hours
  • Step 4: Pour the tea through a filter into a glass and enjoy!

#3 Genmaicha Cold Brew Preparation

When you prepare genmaicha as a cold brew green tea, you will notice more of these caramel notes which can be quite pleasant. Let’s prepare some!

  • Step 1: put 5 grams of genmaicha tea into a glass
  • Step 2: Pour in 500ml of cool water
  • Step 3: Let the leaves sit in the fridge for 3 hours
  • Step 4: Pour the tea through a filter into a glass and enjoy!

#4 Kukicha Cold Brew Preparation

Kukicha is a much milder tea because it is made with both the stems and the leaves of the tea plant. This can work well as a cold brew green tea, with more of these floral or straw tasting notes being extracted.

  • Step 1: put 5 grams of kukicha tea into a glass
  • Step 2: Pour in 500ml of cool water
  • Step 3: Let the leaves sit in the fridge for 3 hours
  • Step 4: Pour the tea through a filter into a glass and enjoy!

#5 Hojicha Cold Brew Preparation

While normally thought of as a warmer tea, hojicha can work great as a cold brew green tea. This tea will have more of these sweet caramel or chocolaty tasting notes.

  • Step 1: put 5 grams of hojicha  tea into a glass
  • Step 2: Pour in 500ml of cool water
  • Step 3: Let the leaves sit in the fridge for 3 hours
  • Step 4: Pour the tea through a filter into a glass and enjoy!

#6 Gyokuro Cold Brew Preparation

Gyokuro is already close to a cold brew green tea, because it is prepared with water between 104-1040 degrees fahrenheit. We adapted the cold brew ratio slightly so that you can prepare a delicious cold brew gyokuro in a fraction of the time!

  • Step 1: put 5 grams of gyokuro tea into a glass
  • Step 2: Pour in 200ml of cool water
  • Step 3: Let the leaves sit in the fridge for 30 minutes
  • Step 4: Pour the tea through a filter into a glass and enjoy!

#7 Kabusecha Cold Brew Preparation

Kabusecha is a long shaded tea that can work great as a cold brew green tea. If you want to prepare your own, just follow these steps!

  • Step 1: put 5 grams of kabusecha  tea into a glass
  • Step 2: Pour in 500ml of cool water
  • Step 3: Let the leaves sit in the fridge for 3 hours
  • Step 4: Pour the tea through a filter into a glass and enjoy!

#8 Bancha Cold Brew Preparation

While not normally prepared as a cold brew green tea, if you are a fan of bancha, you can prepare it as a cold brew for a refreshing, low caffeine drink.

  • Step 1: put 5 grams of bancha tea into a glass
  • Step 2: Pour in 500ml of cool water
  • Step 3: Let the leaves sit in the fridge for 3 hours
  • Step 4: Pour the tea through a filter into a glass and enjoy!
cold brew tea

What's the Best Japanese Tea for Cold Brew Green Tea

The best tea for cold brew green tea would have to be the Shizuku sencha mentioned before. One of the problems with a lot of  cold brew green tea is that while they are delicious, they tend to lack the raw power of hot brewed tea. This is not the case with the shizuku sencha, as it has plenty of strength and a great flavor to it. If you are looking for a  cold brew green tea that has a lot of flavor, you should check out this sencha. 

Benefits of Cold Brew Green Tea 

There are a few benefits of cold brew green tea that go beyond just the temperature. Let’s briefly discuss a few of them here.

Less caffeine 

Caffeine tends to be extracted at a hotter temperature, so as a result cold brew green tea tends to be lower in caffeine than teas brewed at hotter temperatures. This is a really good thing, as most people enjoy drinking the cold brew green tea during the heat of the afternoon. While a high caffeine tea would keep you up if you drank it this late in the day, it doesn't seem to be a problem with cold brew green tea.

Smoother and sweeter flavor

In addition to caffeine being extracted at a hotter temperature, catechins are also extracted at a higher temperature. This is really a good thing, as these are the more bitter components of the tea leaf. This is why you should avoid using boiling water when preparing green tea. When you prepare green teas with a temperature of around 140-160 degrees fahrenheit, you extract less of the catechins and end up with a smoother and sweeter tea.

This concept is taken even further with cold brew green tea. When you use cold water, you are extracting far less of the bitterness. This is why cold brew green tea has a pleasant sweet and fruity flavor to it.

Cold brew benefits videos

Can you cold brew tea bags?

You can cold brew tea bags but it will take longer than hot brewing them. A lot of teabags are made from very low quality leaves, cut up into small pieces. Because these small leaf particles have more relative surface area, they actually infuse more quickly. The flavor of these teabags will be flat and bitter, without the complexity of cold brew green tea made from premium leaves.