It is often said that you can’t brew a good cup of tea on top of Everest, or any tall mountain for that matter. Apparently a good cup of tea is what every mountain climber needs!
The reason given for it not being possible to brew tea at altitude is that the boiling point of water reduces as altitude increases (on Everest it is 71C) and as you need almost 100degrees to brew tea, it is physically impossible on a mountain without a special pressurised vessel (which you probably didn’t carry up the mountain with you).
Now you’re probably wondering why I am rabbiting on about brewing tea on mountains. Well, I recently discovered that it is not true that you can’t brew a good cup of tea at altitude and that you can in fact brew tea with cold or luke warm water. I discovered this in a Korean restaurant in London. I ordered green tea and for the first time in my life I was offered a choice of hot or cold brewed. Curious, I chose cold and was pleased that I did.
Since then I discovered how easy it is to cold brew any type of tea. You just make it like a normal cup of tea but leave it to brew for longer. Depending on the exact temperature of the water and the type of tea, the brewing time could vary from 1 hour to several hours, so you have to change your mindset and put some tea to brew before you want it.
I can hear you wondering what the point in all this is.
Here are 5 good reasons to cold brew tea:
Despite purist claims that a good cup of tea needs almost boiling water to brew properly, I think that it actually tastes a lot better when cold brewed. Tea generally has a bitterness, which is compensated with milk or sugar, but when you cold brew the tea it doesn’t have the bitter taste. You just get the lovely flavour and nothing else.
It is common to drink ice tea in the summer, but this is usually made by brewing hot tea and then cooling it down, which is a really back to front way of doing things when you could just cold brew it in the first place.
Boiling water for drinking tea uses huge amounts of energy. Even if you want hot tea, it makes no sense to heat water to its boiling point when you can’t physically drink it at such high temperatures. Brewing tea cold or at least at the temperature that you want to drink it will save a lot of energy.
The health benefits of tea come largely from its anti-oxidant content. Research now shows that this anti-oxidant activity is higher in cold brewed teas, presumably because the scalding water destroys some of the nutrients. This video from Nutrition Facts explains:
Not only does cold brewed tea have more anti-oxidants than hot tea, but it turns out that you can use it as a mouthwash! Green tea has been found to be more effective as a mouth wash than the leading pharmaceutical mouthwash, and the beauty of cold tea compared to hot tea is that you can comfortably swill it around your mouth just like mouthwash. But unlike mouthwash, you can use it at any time of day when drinking tea, you can swallow the mouthwash and there are only positive side effects!
So whether you are a mountain climber or not, popping your tea in cold water a little bit in advance can be a great thing to do.