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Can You Drink Green Tea Cold? (Are There Benefits?)

Can You Drink Green Tea Cold? (Are There Benefits?)
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From London tea rooms to Japanese tea ceremonies, cafés across Moscow, Manhattan, Beijing and beyond to the vast farm across India and Asia where tea is farmed and perfected, it’s fair to say tea is one of the most beloved beverages in the world.

Whether you drink it via tea bags or steeped loose leaves, with or without sugar or cream, black and green and everything in between, there are tons of ways to prepare and drink tea.

But what about drinking tea cold? At first this may sound like the very antithesis of what tea drinkers love about their favorite beverage. After all, there are already pitched battles over the proper tea-brewing temperature, but that mostly concerns whether your cup should be hot or hotter.

What possible reason could there be for drinking tea cold?

Well, perhaps a health-conscious one.

Browse the Internet and you’re bound to find all kinds of suggestions about green tea in particular and how it might actually be better for you to drink it cold.

So is having a cooled down cup of green tea worth it?

Green Tea Brewing and Benefits

Typically, green tea is brewed at somewhere between 150 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit for most green teas and closer to 190 to 200 degrees for oolong tea. By contrast, those who advocate their cold green tea call for serving it iced instead.

Either way, green tea can contain a wealth of health benefits.

Green tea contains a healthy amount of antioxidants, which can help prevent cellular damage. Studies have repeatedly shown a link between drinking more green tea and a reduced risk of heart disease, though it should be noted that there is still obviously no single silver bullet to preventing that condition.

Even so, green tea can be great for your heart’s health, and the benefits don’t stop there.

Green tea also contains high levels of a natural substance known as flavonoids, which are also noted for their anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory potential. In addition, green tea can also lower triglyceride, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

Some have suggested that green tea can also be used to potentially lower the risk of cancer. Flavonoids themselves are being studied for possibly being able to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Green tea can also help improve your skin’s softness and overall health, helping with everything from dandruff to oily skin to clogged pores, all while also boasting exfoliating powers.

For all this debate of hot versus cold tea, however, some of these benefits may be best achieved with shampoos and conditioners made from or containing some of the nutrients of green tea.

There is also some evidence to suggest that green tea can help fight cavities by changing the pH level in your mouth.

Green tea also contains manganese, which helps with enzyme functions.

While there is no silver bullet for weight loss, green tea can potentially reduce fat production. The September 2012 issue of Obesity, a magazine devoted to researching and combating the subject, found that green tea improved blood glucose levels as well as overall obesity control in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

An 8 oz mug of green tea will typically contain little to no fat, fiber, cholesterol, and protein, and likewise be low in or contain no calories. That said, as we’ll see below, people certainly tend to add things to their tea, and that can drastically impact the health equation.

In addition, green tea can also lower your cortisol levels, which in turn lowers stress. It also contains L-theanine, which has also been linked to stress reduction.

If drinking tea gives you a “warm feeling” inside, it might not just be the lovely sensation of consuming a hot cuppa that’s at work. One study found that those holding hot cups of coffee were more likely to feel warmly toward strangers emotionally, and the same could apply to hot cups of tea.

Chances are you’ve heard of or experienced firsthand the soothing, stress-relieving powers of green tea, and this is part of the reason why.

Finally, green tea also contains catechins, which can have antimicrobial and infection-fighting properties.

This is just a sampling of the bevy of health benefits a well-brewed pot of green tea can provide, but the question remains – how should you brew it, and is it better to go hot or cold?

Cold Versus Hot Green Tea

One thing we didn’t talk about above was the pick-me-up percolating power that is caffeine. It’s a huge reason people drink coffee and tea, but it can also be a problem if you consume too much if it.

Still, you might not want to do without caffeine entirely, let alone the taste of your favorite green tea.

If that’s the case, cold brew green tea is a mixed bag.

On the one hand, those who brew green tea do indeed say that it does contain less caffeine than its hotter counterpart, cutting the count by as much as half.

On the other hand, cold brew green tea will definitely taste differently from hot brew tea, and not just in the temperature difference.

Hot tea tends to be more aromatic and have a richer and more intense flavor than cold tea. By contrast, tea that is cold tends to be less aromatic, and is harder for your tastebuds to pick up on, meaning that you’ll lose some of the much-beloved richness and nuance that’s so characteristic of the best green teas.

There is also evidence to suggest that cold brew green tea preserves more antioxidants than hot brews, which can burn off some of their antioxidants after they reach a certain temperature.

That said, while antioxidants are important, as with any health benefit, they are best enjoyed in moderation, and in fact too many antioxidants can be problematic.

Convenience-wise, you can brew cold green tea without a kettle but, as we’ll see, hot green tea is still much faster and arguably easier to make.

What is good about the debate about hot versus cold tea is that, aside from the question of antioxidants and caffeine, it is largely over taste and preference. The vast majority of the health benefits afforded by green tea is roughly the same regardless of whether it is served hot or cold.

For example, both hot and cold green tea offer heart-smart benefits to drinkers. A 2018 study published in the April edition of Frontiers of Physiology hinted that green tea could be useful for overweight individuals looking to cut down on the risk of cardiovascular issues.

The participants in the study drank cold or hot tea, with results indicating that those who drank cold herbal tea experienced greater fat oxidation than those who drank hot tea. In addition, cold tea did not increase their degree of cardiac output.

However, while antioxidants are greater with cold brew tea, it takes longer to infuse properly than hot cold brew, and as we’ll see below, cold brew can be surprisingly time-consuming to prepare.

The longer steeping time, while inconvenient, is also a prime reason for cold brew’s greater antioxidant and polyphenol content. You should steep the tea for at least 10 minutes to preserve the maximum amount of antioxidants.

The water you use can make a difference, too. Deionized water may increase the antioxidant content, so if you’re looking for reasons for investing in one of those fancy deionizers, your health hopes for green tea might be a reason to give one a try.

There is some evidence to suggest that hot tea can contribute to your chances of esophageal cancer, while cold tea does not.

However, before you panic about having to give up your beloved cup of nice hot tea, keep in mind that this is primarily if you drink hot tea while smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol – without the cigarettes in particular, the risk is still technically elevated, but by such a tiny amount as to be negligible.

One surprising point in hot tea’s favor is that hot tea is good for cooling down on hot days. That’s because the combination of hot tea and the hot temperature causes you to store less heat within your body as some of it is sweated out and evaporated.

By contrast, cold tea cools you down, but only for a short span of time. It can replace the water you lose due to sweating, but doesn’t always provide as much internal cooling as we might think.

Making Cold Brew Green Tea

While cold brew green tea is readily available at stores, it is easy to make on your own as well.

Loose leaf tea is preferable for making your own green tea, but you can use tea bags as well.

Simply steep the tea bags in cold water for 6 to 12 hours. You’ll likely also want to have a strainer on hand to filter out some of the detritus and keep your green tea pure and clean.

Hot tea lovers may look at that 6 to 12 hour timeframe with disdain or confusion, and understandably so – a good pot of green tea can be ready in just a few minutes. For that reason, unless you brew it the night before, cold green tea certainly won’t be replacing its hot counterpart as your breakfast brew of choice.

That said, all those extra hours help make cold brew green tea that much smoother and mild. Again, hot tea purists might point out that you’re losing some of the rich, full-bodied flavor that makes green tea so great, but if you’re fine with that and simply looking for something cool in the summertime that’s more easily portable and goes down smooth, cold brew green tea may be a revelation.

Cold green tea also tends to veer more toward the sweeter side of the palate, whereas hot tea that has grown cold can taste bitter.

Improving the Taste of Cold Green Tea

One of if not the biggest downside of cold green tea is that it often simply doesn’t taste as good as hot tea. While that’s a matter of taste, there’s a reason that hot tea has been beloved around the world for thousands of years, whereas cold tea has a reputation for being tepid and bitter.

However, it doesn’t have to be like that. Even if it doesn’t match the scintillating taste of hot green tea, there are several things you can do to make your hot green tea taste better.

One thing to be mindful of is the temperature at which you brew the tea. Even if you plan on serving it cold, you have to brew it hot first, which brings us back to the high temperatures involved here.

Different green teas have different ideal brewing temperatures. For example, while many Chinese teas are fine at temperatures of around 170 to 180 Fahrenheit, Japanese teas tend to be more delicate, and thus do better at 150 to 170 degrees.

It should come as no surprise that people often add sweeteners such as milk, cream, sugar, and honey to tea to improve its taste. That said, many of these are better suited to black rather than green tea, and in any case, if you’re looking to focus on health and fitness, adding extra sugar probably isn’t your best option.

That doesn’t mean you have to give up on drinking sweetened green tea, however. On the contrary, there are plenty of health-smart all-natural alternatives to consider.

Lemon juice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and other additives can improve the taste. Even better, some additives can improve the healthy potential of the tea even further, such as ginger, which is a natural anti-inflammatory.

You could also try considering different herbal infusions, which premix green tea with other things. Serving these iced can produce a unique tasting experience.

There is a lot to love about green tea, hot and cold. However you prepare it, green tea has the potential to pick you up, calm you down, improve your health, and leave you ready for more.

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