The following article was written by guest author, Geoffrey Reiff, Business Development Manager at Verdant Tea.
Yesterday, David and I spent six hours preparing a total of twenty offerings from the Verdant collection and Alchemy line as iced tea. That accounts for all of our teas except the pu’ers, a couple of the strip oolongs and Laoshan Black, which we didn’t have time to get to, or didn’t have on hand. Our intention was to do a photo shoot and record tasting notes for all of these teas served cold.
Before this adventurous day of tasting, we had only tried cold brewing a handful of our teas. Aside from the fun of tasting and photographing everything, we both found the whole experience to be eye-opening and revelatory. We had anticipated that many of our teas would perform well iced, without any need for sweetening, but what we discovered went way beyond our expectations.
Every one of the teas that we prepared on ice was exceptionally good, and a number of them were downright magnificent. The truth is, in every case, we found the iced treatment to reveal previously unseen facets and dimensions of each tea. More than once during the process of all this, we were both compelled to express a deepened respect for cold brewing and iced tea.
We had set out to do a casual summer photo shoot and depict an alternative to hot brewing our teas, but it very quickly turned into an inspired and illuminating journey. With every tea that we tried there was some lively discussion, followed by David constructing a scene with whatever we had on hand that might help us depict the feeling and experience we had drinking the tea on ice. It was a thrilling creative frenzy.
The resulting photos are now viewable in the slideshow on each product page during the summer months. There were many more taken than what we’ve used on the website, and David has said that he will be posting a good share of them on Verdant Tea’s Pinterest Gallery. It is our hope that the pictures we took will inspire and encourage others to discover the same surprising and delicious beauty we found in preparing these teas on ice. At the bottom of each product description, we have also added a brief list of notes or keywords from what we wrote down about our experience of these teas iced.
At the end of this adventure, I was inspired with the idea of cold brewing an array of five or six diverse teas in small mason jars, then loading them in a cooler to serve as the exquisite and refreshing centerpiece of a summer picnic date by the lake. Or even do this with some larger jars and invite several friends to make an outdoor iced tea tasting party of it.
With that thought I will close this brief article with a list of teas that David and I found to be extraordinary among the examples that we iced yesterday. Truly, every tea that we tried was superb, and among the best iced teas either of us have tasted, these were just personal favorites (in no particular order):
Mi Lan Xiang Phoenix Mountain Dancong
- Initial flavor of sugared grapefruit and rainier cherries, yields to a powerful and enduring honey citrus aftertaste followed by strong notes of muscot grape.
Zhu Rong Yunnan Black
- The platonic ideal of traditional iced black tea. Bold, robust and very refreshing, with a natural honey flavor. Performs excellently on its own or with a fruit garnish.
Wuyi Mountain Big Red Robe
- Cold this tea reveals more surprising complexity, with notes of honey, cedar, sandalwood incense, grape, and pecans candied with rosemary. Delicious rock texture, and an aftertaste with strong notes of bourbon vanilla, caramel and cinnamon.
Hand Picked Spring Tieguanyin
- The perfumed florals are extra vivd and potent. Mouthfeel is silky, and gets more buttery in the aftertaste with a note of green grape.
Yunnan White Jasmine
- Perfumed florals are more potent, with an exquisite silky texture and notes of melon and banana fruit salad.
Spring Harvest Dragonwell-Style Laoshan Green
- Very clean, refreshing and sweet. Tastes like the smell of fresh cut grass on a hot day. Flavor notes and texture reminded us of vanilla frozen yogurt.
Bergamont Rose Laoshan Black
- An amazing treat. Sunny, refreshing, as if you could make a beverage out of a chocolate orange and rosewater. Very true to the Laoshan Black base. A delectable aftertaste.
Chocolate Chamomile Curiosity Brew
- Like very good mint chocolate chip ice cream… enough said.
Basic Iced Tea Brewing Guidelines:
Cold Brewing (Recommended especially for green and white teas)
Use about 4 grams of tea for every 12oz of water. Add the tea and room temperature filtered water to a covered vessel and refrigerate for at least 5 hours. Enjoy! No need to remove the leaves, as cold brewing takes days to get too strong.
Hot Brewing (Recommended for roasted oolongs and black teas)
Use one TB of tea in an 6-8 ounce vessel. Steep for one minute with filtered boiling water for oxidized teas and 180 degree water for unoxidized teas. Fill a larger vessel with ice and pour tea over ice. Swirl until very cold and pour out. Add fresh ice cubes just before serving. (This prevents the tea from getting watered down). We used hot brewing on all the teas in our most recent photo shoot for the sake of time saving, and experienced excellent results. Time can be adjusted down slightly for more delicate green teas and up slightly to taste for shu pu’er, or herbals.
*More detailed tea-specific brewing guidelines coming to each product page soon.
After yesterday, I know that I’ll be brewing a lot more our tea on ice all summer, and for many summers to come. Now that it has officially started, cheers to a long summer of adventurous iced tea enjoyment!