Learn how to cold brew green tea at home! This simple method helps prevent the bitter flavors while extracting a very smooth, aromatic, and healthy green tea. It’s our go-to refreshing tea to enjoy on warm days.
In Japan, especially during hot days, it’s inevitable to run into a vending machine at every corner, beckoning you for a cold drink. More often than not, our family’s choice is bottles of ice-cold green tea. The refreshing and floral green tea cools us down and energizes us on a muggy afternoon. We’ll show you how to easily make cold brew green tea at home.
What is Cold Brew Green Tea?
Cold brewing green tea is very straight forward. Simply steep green tea leaves in cold filtered water and wait for extraction. This brewing method results in less caffeine and bitterness compared to regular brewed green tea. It is also easier since green tea leaves are delicate and require very exact water temperature (176-180ºF, 80ºC) for the correct brewing.
In recent years, cold brew drinks have become popular all over the world. The more mellow flavors and smoother profile is appealing and preferred by the consumers. Both Japanese beverage companies Suntory and Itoen even make a cold brew version of their popular bottled green teas.
Why Cold Brew Green Tea at Home
There are several great reasons to do this at home:
- You can make a lot of green tea at once and slowly enjoy it over time. Hot brewing only allows for a small amount of tea per brew.
- Reduce bitterness, caffeine, and astringency compared to hot brewed green tea.
- More economical than buying bottled green tea.
- You can use your favorite green tea leaves.
- It’s super easy.
Benefits of Cold Brew Green Tea
Based on our research, here are some key benefits of cold brew green vs. hot brew
- The tea retains more antioxidants and phenolic compounds.
- Extract less caffeine.
- Less bitterness & astringency.
- More rounder flavors.
Cold Brew Green Tea Basics
Let’s go over some of the basics of cold brew green tea.
1. 3 Types of Japanese Green Tea
- Gyokuro (玉露) – Unlike most green tea, gyokuro leaves are grown in the shade with specially made mats, which allows the amino acids to get stronger, producing a sweeter and richer flavor. The leaves are rolled and dried into the needle shape. Regarded the best in quality and flavor for making hot brewed green tea.
- Sencha (煎茶) – The “standard” green tea. Grown in the sun and has a characteristic sharp profile. The thinner, delicate leaves in the upper shoots of the tea plant are harvested for sencha. The leaves are steamed, rolled, and dried into the needle shape. Considered lower quality compared to gyokuro. There are several factors that affect the quality of the leaves including where it’s farmed and when it was harvested.
- Bancha (番茶) – Bancha is the same as sencha except the leaves are closer to the stalk and larger in size. During the drying process, the larger leaves do not roll into the fine needle shape. Considered the lowest quality of tea leaves. This type of tea is used to make Hojicha (ほうじ茶) and Genmaicha (玄米茶).
2. How Long to Cold Brew
For each brew, we used the same amount of tea leaves (15 g) for 1 liter (1.05 qt) of water and waited 8 hours for extraction. It was interesting to observe as some of the tea immediately turned green while others stayed pretty light.
We recommend waiting at least 4 to 6 hours for cold brew green tea to completely extract the flavors. When properly refrigerated, it’ll last 3 days and still maintain good flavor.
3. Equipment for Cold Brew
My recommendation for the cold-brewing method is to use a pot or disposable tea bags below.
The Experiment: Best Green Tea for Cold Brew Green Tea
When we shared How to Cold Brew Hojicha, we realized we never tested a variety of green tea leaves to see which one was our favorite. Since our family loves drinking green tea, we looked forward to the experiment.
Since we’re in the US, we purchased all the green teas either in our local Japanese supermarket (#1, 2, 3, 5) or online (#4). The tea leaves we tried are:
- Gyukuro (Grown in the shade) – Maeda-en (origin unknown)
- Sencha (Hachiju Hachiya – tea harvested after 88 days; in May) – organic, Okumidori, Kagoshima, Kyushu
- Sencha (Shincha “new tea”, first harvest) – Yamamotoyama, Kagoshima, Kyushu
- Sencha (medium grade) – Hosen from Ippodo Tea Shop (origin most likely Kyoto area)
- Bancha – organic, Shizuoka prefecture
For our taste test, we excluded any tea that has matcha powder added as it covers up the true flavors of green tea leaves.
Our Favorite Tea Leaves for Cold Brew Green Tea
Here are the flavor profiles of each tea:
1. Gyukuro tea was very delicate and had a light aroma. The flavors were mellow and floral, not much of the “bottled” green tea taste. The texture was water-like with a clean finish.
2. Tea leaves picked 88 days smelled like bottled green tea. It had a strong tea flavor, slightly tart, and fragrant finish. This was our favorite.
3. Shincha had a very light aroma. The tea tasted medicinal and herby, slightly bitter with a tart finish.
4. Ippodo Hosen tea had a light aroma and a very refined green tea flavor. It had a slightly tart finish but tasted really clean. This was our second favorite.
5. Bancha was quite horrible. There was no green tea smell and the aroma reminded us of burnt leaves. The drink didn’t taste like green tea at all and left our mouth dry.
So what did we learn from our experiment? Our preferred green tea for the cold brew method is “Hachiju Hachiya” Sencha (tea harvested after 88 days) that has had time to mature. Gyukuro and Shincha are both too light and lacked the deep green tea flavor profile. Bancha was quite awful and we wouldn’t be able to tell it was even green tea.
Green Tea with Matcha Powder 抹茶入り
In addition to the above variety, you can also find green teas that have added matcha powder in the mix. We call it “Matcha Iri (抹茶入り)”. There is even a bottled version of green tea with matcha powder.
The addition of matcha gives the tea a ton more flavors but since the flavor is so strong, it overpowers the true taste of the tea leaves. This is particularly true with Genmaicha which is made with lower grade Bancha.
However, our family does enjoy Genmaicha and sencha with matcha. So it’s really a personal preference. If you want to add your own matcha to your green tea, start with 1 tsp per liter or a quart of water and adjust the amount based on your preference.
We hope this how-to cold brew green tea guide has been helpful for you to make your own at home. If you discover a particular green tea you really like, let us and other readers know in the comment below!
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How to Cold Brew Green Tea
- ½ oz Japanese green tea leaves (Depending on green tea, 0.5 oz (15 g) varies from 1 ½ Tbsp to 2 Tbsp)
- 4 ¼ cups room temperature or cold filtered water
- Gather the ingredient. We use this cold brew coffee/tea maker.
- Put the tea leaves in the cold brew maker. I use a kitchen scale to measure the exact 15 grams.
- Add 1 liter (4 ¼ cups) filtered water.
- Let it steep in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours.
- Discard the tea leaves from the pitcher. Serve with or without ice. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
More Refreshing Cold Drinks You’ll Enjoy:
- How to Cold Brew Hojicha
- Cold Brew Coffee
- Japanese Iced Coffee
- Buckwheat Tea (Sobacha)
- Iced Matcha Latte