Green tea is well known for its health benefits and unique taste, but often when we talk about its benefits we are referring to hot green tea. Sometimes when it is hot outside we prefer drinking iced tea, but is cold green tea good for you as well? We will go over the differences between hot and cold green tea, and different ways you can get the most out of this tea.
Is Cold Green Tea Good for You?
Cold green tea is good for you as long as you don’t drink too much of it. Green tea brewed with hot water will extract the most beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, and once it is cooled is still good for you.
Cold-brewed green tea can offer similar health benefits to hot green tea, but it may not be as good for you as when the tea is brewed in hot water. Temperature and time are always the most important parts of extracting the best parts out of tea, and green tea leaves are no exception.
Cold Green Tea Benefits
Oxidation is generally the main reason why tea leaves have different properties. Green tea is an unoxidized tea, so it generally maintains more beneficial properties than black tea leaves, which are fully oxidized. White tea is similar but presents fewer antioxidants with its young buds, and the semi-oxidation of oolong tea does not quite reach the same level of healthiness that green tea does.
Some benefits of green tea:
- Contains polyphenols, which reduce inflammation.
- An excellent supplier of catechins, natural antioxidants that can reduce or prevent cell damage.
- A rare source of the amino acid L-theanine, shown to improve brain function.
- Mild stimulant due to the presence of caffeine.
Hot vs. Cold Brewed Green Tea
True tea leaves that come from the Camellia sinensis plant are full of many beneficial minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. Getting the best amount of these out of the leaves can be a point of contention among tea lovers, but from a scientific standpoint, hot water at around 80C will extract the most beneficial parts of the plant. This includes the very important catechins and polyphenols that green tea is known for.
Green tea extracted in cold water over a long period of time can present a similar extraction, but in the end, cannot generally extract as much from the tea leaves as hot water can (and hot water takes a much shorter amount of time).
While extracting tea into a gallon of hot water can take under 10 minutes, it can take at least 10 hours (and up to 18) to get the same flavor. Even then, the catechins and other beneficial parts of green tea brewed in cold water would not be as prevalent.
If you want to drink cold green tea, the best balance between the two brewing methods, hot vs. cold, is to brew your tea in hot water and then cool it as quickly as possible. This will ensure that the most extraction is performed while you can still enjoy it as a cold iced tea. The one difference when hot tea cools off is that the caffeine effect will not be as strong.
The Best Way to Make Green Tea Cold
The best cold green tea is originally brewed with hot water to make extraction possible. After that point, the goal is to produce a cold beverage that is not watered down and still provides the same (or at least close to the same) health benefits. There are a few different ways to do this, but our favorite is to use frozen tea ice cubes.
- Brew green tea in hot water normally, and then refrigerate. In this manner, you will get the best nutrient extraction from the tea leaves, and the process is very easy. Unfortunately, it takes a long period of time, and if you are brewing and cooling a large amount of tea at one time, it can increase your refrigerator temperature for a decent period of time.
- Brew concentrated green tea in hot water and cool with ice. If you can balance the amount of water to leaf ratio correctly this is an effective cooling method. Brewing a very strong concoction of green tea and then cooling and watering it down with plain ice works well most of the time, but it is very easy to over-extract the leaves, making a bitter brew.
- Cool the brewed green tea with frozen tea ice cubes. If you already know that you like cold green tea, it is worth thinking ahead. Brew a large amount of green tea with hot water as normal, and freeze all that you do not drink in an ice cube tray. These “tea cubes” can be used to cool down brewed tea without watering it down. Be sure to store them in an airtight container after they are frozen completely – this will help keep them from absorbing any freezer odors.
Can I Have Green Tea Cold?
Yes! We love cold green tea on a hot summer day as opposed to the standard iced tea made from black tea leaves. Make sure that your chilled tea is not watered down by following our instructions above on making frozen green tea ice cubes. Instead of mixing in sugar to sweeten it, try honey or agave in your iced green tea.
What are the Benefits of Drinking Cold Green Tea?
In addition to the normal benefits of drinking hot green tea, cold green tea is refreshing and normally contains less caffeine. It is easier for some to drink cold beverages as opposed to hot beverages, so if you are looking to drink green tea, serving it cold may work out better for you. However, be careful; since it is easy to drink more cold tea than you normally would if it were hot, pay attention to not drink so much that the caffeine starts to affect you negatively.
Is Green Tea Better Hot or Cold?
Hot green tea usually has the most extraction of beneficial nutrients but also has the most caffeine. If you are looking for a morning wake up drink, hot green tea may be better for you. On the other hand, if you want the taste and antioxidant benefits of green tea but it is a hot afternoon, cold green tea may be more appropriate. It will all come down to your personal taste and the situation you are in.
Is Cold Green Tea Good for Weight Loss?
While not a scientifically proven fact, it is generally accepted that green tea can help with weight loss under the right conditions. With a decent amount of caffeine and catechins, cold green tea has the potential to increase your metabolism when you drink it, helping to burn calories.
Cold green tea can be as good for you as hot green tea, and under the right conditions, it may be even better for you. Cold green tea will generally have less caffeine than hot green tea, can be easier to drink for many people who are trying green tea for the first time, and will be much more refreshing than hot tea when it is hot outside.
If you are drinking green tea only for the health benefits, do not be afraid to drink it when it is cold! It is better to drink green tea in a potentially less effective state than not drinking green tea at all.
Scott is the founder of TeaMinded. He enjoys tasting and discovering teas from across the globe, with green teas and ceremonial matcha from Japan being among his favorites. He’s grateful to be immersed in the tea community, always learning and sharing along the journey.