Tea is one of my go-to healthy drinks because it’s packed with antioxidants that melt belly fat and ward off chronic diseases. But, I recently learned that steaming hot tea isn’t always the answer! The water’s temperature when you’re steeping the tea makes a huge difference for increasing its benefits. New research reveals that using cold water to brew tea is the best option to retain its antioxidant power as a health-boosting sip.
Does cold brew tea have health benefits?
A study published in Journal of Food Science and Technology compared the health effects of hot versus cold steeping methods on black, oolong, and green tea varieties. Researchers used the following three different extraction methods on each type of tea to measure its antioxidant power, gallic acid content, and amount of phenolics (chemical compounds that fight inflammation) by the end of the steeping process.
- Hot steeping method: 12 grams of tea were placed in one liter of hot water. The tea was then steeped for three to four minutes.
- Cold brew method: Seven to eight grams of tea leaves were added to one liter of cold water before steeping in the fridge for 12 hours.
- Iced tea method: This method uses both hot and cold water by placing 30 grams of tea in 600 mL of water at 176 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, 400 grams of ice was added after the three to five minute infusion time.
The study’s authors found that the cold brew method allowed the tea to maintain the highest amount of antioxidant properties as well as phenolic and gallic acid content compared to the other steeping processes. Gallic acid and epigallocatechin gallate specifically were two nutritional compounds that almost doubled in amount after steeping black and green teas in cold water. Those two compounds help eliminate illness-causing free radicals in the body.
On the other hand, tea exposed to hot water is likely to lose its bioactive molecules. These molecules are key to keeping the antioxidants in the drink, which help strengthen the body’s cells to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. Also, researchers revealed that the study’s expert taste testers preferred the cold steeped tea varieties over the others because they were less bitter and had lower amounts of caffeine.
While this brewing method seems odd, it certainly yields the best results health and flavor-wise for the ultimate cup of tea!
How long should you cold brew tea?
Waiting 12 hours for a cup of tea to steep might be a little time-consuming, especially when you want a quick afternoon drink. Thankfully, tea varieties like Lipton Cold Brew Black Tea (Buy from Walmart, $2.98) and Twinings Cold Brew Green Tea with Mint (Buy from Walmart, $10.78) only take about three to five minutes to make. So you can get right to enjoying the benefits from cold brew tea without the long wait!
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