Did you know that there’s a way to make iced tea that doesn’t even need water? In Japanese, ice brewing tea is called koridashi or shinobicha. It’s one of my favorite ways to brew on a hot summer day. There’s minimal effort involved and I don’t need to muck about with hot water. Ice brewing dramatically reduces bitterness and really concentrates the umami character of the tea.
In doing my research for this post, I couldn’t find any information about when koridashi was invented. Gyokyro is the most common type of tea brewed this way and that was developed in 1835. The first ice machine was invented 10 years later. I did find an interesting article on the history of ice if you’d like a rabbit hole to go down.
What You Need
- Brewing Vessel: This can be a teapot, kyusu, yuzamashi, or just about anything else that you might have on hand. The only real requirement is the ability to hold and pour liquid. The tea set I used in this post was gifted to me by Maiko Tea. It is specifically designed for brewing Gyokuro.
- Ice: Similarly to brewing tea, you’ll want to make sure your ice is made with good quality water. I use water that has been run through a Brita filter. You may want to use spring water if your tap water isn’t up to the task.
- Tea: Gyokuro or sencha are my preference but you can use any tea that you would like. It may help to do a quick hot water rinse, especially for fluffier teas like Silver Needle.
How to Ice Brew Tea
This is a very loose guide for a reason. The best thing about ice brewing tea is that it is practically impossible to get it wrong. If you don’t enjoy the result just adjust your parameters and try again. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Put Tea in the Vessel
The amount of leaf you use does not need to be exact. A good rule of thumb is to at least cover the bottom of the brewing vessel.
Add Ice on Top
Place ice cubes directly on top of the leaves. It can be hard to judge the amount of water your ice will make but filling up to the top of the vessel generally works well for me.
Wait for the Ice to Melt
This is the hard part. Sometimes I’ll cheat and pour tiny sips as I am able to. There will be quite a bit of condensation so it can help to put your brewing vessel on a towel or coaster.
There’s nothing quite like a cool, umami-filled sip of ice brewed tea. Enjoy it slowly. Pay attention to the difference from hot tea. The thicker mouthfeel is one of my favorite parts.
It might take time but your patience will be rewarded with a thick, sweet umami bomb in your cup. If you like your tea a bit stronger, you might want to give Netto Koridashi a try.
Have you ever tried ice brewing tea? What teas do you make that way? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!