Written by Felicity

The heatwave is here in the UK. Which means, of course, everyone is ready to do that little bit extra to stay comfortable and hydrated…

Tea has been shown to be hydrating. As for comfort, you might have heard the old wisdom about a hot drink cooling you down on a hot day. Scientists have proved this to be true, but anyone in sub-tropical tea-producing origins around the world has known this for a long time. In the 40°C heat of India, hot, milky, spiced, sweet chai is drunk throughout the day. In China’s Zhejiang province, where the average July temperature can be 30°C, locals drink green tea is cool down, rather than cold drinks. It opens the pores to let heat escape and they drink it hot.

Cold tea can be refreshing too and that's what some of us have been turning to this week. If you’re looking to try something new this summer, there are lots of ways to turn tea into something a little cooler. Even just asking around the (virtual) office, I got four different ideas. Some of these techniques might be surprising, but they’re simple enough to make at home – and they all celebrate flavour.

Hot, sweet, spiced Chai is used thoughout the day in India to refresh and energise in the heat!
Hot, sweet, spiced Chai is used thoughout the day in India to refresh and energise in the heat!
A shaded tea house in China - they've long used the cooling properties of certain teas
A shaded tea house in China - they've long used the cooling properties of certain teas

Felicity's cold-infused Phoenix Honey Orchid

I’m still drinking lots of one my current favourite teas, Phoenix Honey Orchid, but just making it with cold water. It’s a great way to experience the flavour in different concentrations – compared to when I drink it hot, I can more easily find the floral aromas and sharp fruits. I even made a short video on how to do it.

How do you do it?
This method uses time instead of heat to extract flavour from the tea leaves. It’s as simple as adding cold water to your tea leaves and leaving them in the fridge for a few hours – or even overnight. You won’t extract much structure or body – instead you’ll get an abundance of high notes and high aromatics that you can enjoy as a cold, refreshing drink.

Cold Infusion Infographic

Which teas work best?
Highly aromatic ones. Our favourite cold infusions are Phoenix Honey Orchid; Red Dragon; Jasmine Silver Needle; and Earl Grey.

Who’s it for?
Try this if you want a relatively light drink that you can drink cold – even over ice – and you like highly aromatic teas.

Ed's Cold Tea On-The-Go

One of the best ways is just to take a bottle, and put some tea and some cold water in it. Take it with you where you’re going or keep it in the fridge and drink straight out of it. It’s that simple – and common in China and Taiwan – you could think of it as the cold version of the ‘grandad’ style of tea drinking that’s popular in China.

How do you do it?
As Ed says, add tea to your bottle of cold water – and enjoy. The teas will release their flavour slowly, so at first the drink is very light. During the course of the day, you can top up the water and, as the leaves unfurl, you’ll get more and more flavour.

Which teas work best?
Larger leaf teas are ideal – think rolled oolongs – because they’re heavy enough to sink to the bottom and so won’t get in the way of drinking. We can recommend Ali Shan, Traditional Iron Buddha and also Jasmine Pearls.

Who’s it for?
This is a no-nonsense approach to cold tea. It’s ready immediately and good to drink on-the-go. It’s a great way to experience the flavours of green oolong too – look out for the slow release of the tropical fruit and floral complexity in the Ali Shan.

Jasmine Pearls delivers great depth of flavour when it's cold infused and made sparkling
Jasmine Pearls delivers great depth of flavour when it's cold infused and made sparkling
Cold Infused Jasmine Silver Needle
Cold Infused Jasmine Silver Needle

Catherine's Sparkling Jasmine Pearls

I've taken to making friends sparkling Jasmine Pearls with a soda splash, serving it to them as a drink when they arrive for our socially distanced BBQs.

How do you do it?
Easily! You take cold-infused tea (see above) and carbonate it with CO2. It’s the only one you’ll need some extra equipment for though – we use this soda splash.

Sparkling tea Infographic

Which teas work best?
Similar to cold infusions, you’ll want teas that are high in aromatics, but with enough body and structure to carry the CO2 carbonation. We particularly like Jasmine Pearls, Sencha and Iron Buddha.

Who’s it for?
Try sparkling tea if you want something light, refreshing, and with a sense of occasion! The carbonation gives the teas a slightly dry texture that makes it reminiscent of some sparkling wines, while also carrying the flavours and making this a slightly more complex version of a cold infusion.

Will's Kooridashi

I’ve been experimenting this week. Kooridashi is a style of tea making I’d never tried before, but it seemed so easy to do, I had to give it a go…

How do you do it?
Kooridashi is the Japanese method of infusing tea with ice into a concentrated iced infusion. As it’s so cold, the ice should extract a lot less of the bitter compounds like tannins and caffeine.

Take your tea leaves, add some ice cubes and wait for them to melt, creating an ice-cold infusion. If you want to take it a step further, try it with a V60 coffee filter in a drip-style infusion, or try a completely different tea to see how it compares.

Which teas work best?
Classic Japanese green teas such as Gyokuro and Sencha.

Who’s it for?
This is a fun way to explore a new side to Gyokuro. If you’re looking for an ultra-refreshing cold tea, this has remarkable, espresso-like intensity. But the results won’t be for everyone: the infusion is a vibrant lime green, and the aroma of the wet leaf can be equally potent – a combination of sweet florals, savoury green vegetables and even some sourness. The taste is strongly saline and big on umami – and look out too for a jellylike, bouncy texture that gives it that intensity.

It took around four hours for the ice to melt fully when Will made his Kooridashi!
It took around four hours for the ice to melt fully when Will made his Kooridashi!
Gyokuro Kooridashi infusion
Gyokuro Kooridashi infusion

And finally...

A Note On Green Teas

As I mentioned, it’s how the producers and locals keep refreshed in the heat in China, and as the teas are at their freshest at the moment, I wanted to include them here as our final recommendation – naturally cooling and with the freshest flavours of spring.

How does it work?
Do exactly what you’d usually do! (There are instructions on the side of every packet.) If you can, try drinking them outside (in the shade!) surrounded by other greenery of spring and summer.

Which teas work best?
Our picks are Baojing Gold and Dragon Well Supreme.

Who’s it for?
Across our full range of green teas, there’s something for all green tea drinkers.

Baojing Gold Green Tea - naturally cooling and currently at it's freshest.
Baojing Gold Green Tea - naturally cooling and currently at it's freshest.