How to Cold Brew Green Tea 水出し緑茶 • Just One Cookbook

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Learn how to cold brew green tea at home! This simple method helps prevent the bitter flavors while extracting a very smooth, aromatic, and healthy green tea. It’s our go-to refreshing tea to enjoy on warm days.

green iced tea in a glass cup on top of marble table next to a book and a plant

In Japan, especially during hot days, it’s inevitable to run into a vending machine at every corner, beckoning you for a cold drink. More often than not, our family’s choice is bottles of ice-cold green tea. The refreshing and floral green tea cools us down and energizes us on a muggy afternoon. We’ll show you how to easily make cold brew green tea at home.

drink vending machines in Japan
vending machines in Japan

What is Cold Brew Green Tea?

Cold brewing green tea is very straight forward. Simply seep green tea leaves in cold filtered water and wait for extraction. This brewing method results in less caffeine and bitterness compared to regular brewed green tea. It is also easier since green tea leaves are delicate and require very exact water temperature (176-180ºF, 80ºC) for the correct brewing.

green tea leaves being pour into a cold brew pitcher

5 pitchers of green tea on marble table

In recent years, cold brew drinks have become popular all over the world. The more mellow flavors and smoother profile is appealing and preferred by the consumers. Both Japanese beverage companies Suntory and Itoen even make a cold brew version of their popular bottled green teas.

bottled green tea on supermarket shelf
Iyemon 伊右衛門 and Itoen 伊藤園 cold brew green tea (light blue bottles)

Why Cold Brew Green Tea at Home

There are several great reasons to do this at home:

  • You can make a lot of green tea at once and slowly enjoy it over time. Hot brewing only allows for a small amount of tea per brew.
  • Reduce bitterness, caffeine, and astringency compared to hot brewed green tea.
  • More economical than buying bottled green tea.
  • You can use your favorite green tea leaves.
  • It’s super easy.

Benefits of Cold Brew Green Tea

Based on our research, here are some key benefits of cold brew green vs. hot brew

  • The tea retains more antioxidants and phenolic compounds.
  • Extract less caffeine.
  • Less bitterness & astringency.
  • More rounder flavors.

5 pitchers of green tea behind tea bags on marble table

Cold Brew Green Tea Basics

Let’s go over some of the basics of cold brew green tea.

1. 3 Types of Japanese Green Tea

  1. Gyokuro (玉露) – Unlike most green tea, gyokuro leaves are grown in the shade with specially made mats, which allows the amino acids to get stronger, producing a sweeter and richer flavor. The leaves are rolled and dried into the needle shape. Regarded the best in quality and flavor for making hot brewed green tea.
  2. Sencha (煎茶) – The “standard” green tea. Grown in the sun and has a characteristic sharp profile. The thinner, delicate leaves in the upper shoots of the tea plant are harvested for sencha. The leaves are steamed, rolled, and dried into the needle shape. Considered lower quality compared to gyokuro. There are several factors that affect the quality of the leaves including where it’s farmed and when it was harvested.
  3. Bancha (番茶) – Bancha is the same as sencha except the leaves are closer to the stalk and larger in size. During the drying process, the larger leaves do not roll into the fine needle shape. Considered the lowest quality of tea leaves. This type of tea is used to make Hojicha (ほうじ茶) and Genmaicha (玄米茶).
green tea leaves on 2 white plates
Gyokuro (deep green) on the left and Sencha on the right
green tea leaves on 3 white plates
3 different kinds of Sencha
green tea leaves on 2 white plates
Sencha on the left and Bancha on the right

2. How Long to Cold Brew

For each brew, we used the same amount of tea leaves (15 g) for 1 liter (1.05 qt) of water and waited 8 hours for extraction. It was interesting to observe as some of the tea immediately turned green while others stayed pretty light.

green tea in 5 pitchers
15 min after adding water to the tea leaves

We recommend waiting at least 4 to 6 hours for cold brew green tea to completely extract the flavors. When properly refrigerated, it’ll last 3 days and still maintain good flavor.

The Experiment: Best Green Tea for Cold Brew Green Tea

When we shared How to Cold Brew Hojicha, we realized we never teste a variety of green tea leaves to see which one was our favorite. Since our family loves drinking green tea, we looked forward to the experiment.

5 bags of green tea in front of pitchers
tea tested from gyokuro on the left to bancha on the right

Since we’re in the US, we purchased all the green teas either in our local Japanese supermarket or online. The tea leaves we tried are:

  1. Gyukuro (Grown in the shade) – Origin unknown from Maeda-en brand
  2. Organic Sencha (Hachiju Hachiya – tea harvested after 88 days; in May) – origin Kagoshima, Kyushu
  3. Sencha (Shincha “new tea” – first harvest) – origin Kagoshima, Kyushu
  4. Medium grade Sencha – Hosen from Ippodo Tea Shop brand (origin most likely Kyoto area)
  5. Organic Bancha – origin Shizuoka prefecture

For our taste test, we excluded any tea that has matcha powder added as it covers up the true flavors of green tea leaves.

5 pitchers of green tea behind plates of green tea leaves on marble table
Gyukuro on the left to Bancha on the right

Our Favorite Tea Leaves for Cold Brew Green Tea

Here are the flavor profiles of each tea:

1. Gyukuro tea was very delicate and had a light aroma. The flavors were mellow and floral, not much of the “bottled” green tea taste. The texture was water-like with a clean finish.
2. Tea leaves picked 88 days smelled like bottled green tea. It had a strong tea flavor, slightly tart, and fragrant finish. This was our favorite.
3. Shincha had a very light aroma. The tea tasted medicinal and herby, slightly bitter with a tart finish.
4. Ippodo Hosen tea had a light aroma and a very refined green tea flavor. It had a slightly tart finish but tasted really clean. This was our second favorite.
5. Bancha was quite horrible. There was no green tea smell and the aroma reminded us of burnt leaves. The drink didn’t taste like green tea at all and left our mouth dry.

green tea leaves after brewing in 5 different tea filters
Tea leaves after brewing

So what did we learn from our experiment? Our preferred green tea for the cold brew method is Sencha that has had time to mature. Gyukuro and Shincha are both too light and lacked the deep green tea flavor profile. Bancha was quite awful and we wouldn’t be able to tell it was even green tea.

green iced tea in a glass cup on top of marble table next to a plant

Green Tea with Matcha Powder 抹茶入り

In addition to the above variety, you can also find green teas that have added matcha powder in the mix. We call it “Matcha Iri (抹茶入り)”. There is even a bottled version of green tea with matcha powder.

The addition of matcha gives the tea a ton more flavors but since the flavor is so strong, it overpowers the true taste of the tea leaves. This is particularly true with Genmaicha which is made with lower grade Bancha.

Iyemon genmaicha and sencha tea leaves on white plate in front of green tea pitchers
genmaicha with roasted brown rice (left) and sencha with matcha powder (right)

However, our family does enjoy Genmaicha and sencha with matcha. So it’s really a personal preference. If you want to add your own matcha to your green tea, start with 1 tsp per liter or a quart of water and adjust the amount based on your preference.

We hope this how-to cold brew green tea guide has been helpful for you to make your own at home. If you discover a particular green tea you really like, let us and other readers know in the comment below!

green iced tea in a glass cup on top of marble table next to a book and a plant

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green iced tea in a glass cup on top of marble table next to a book and a plant

Learn how to cold-brew green tea at home! This simple method helps prevent the bitter flavors, while extracting a very smooth, aromatic, and healthy green tea. It’s our go-to refreshing tea to enjoy on warm days.

Course: Drinks

Cuisine: Japanese

Keyword: green tea

Servings: 1 L (4 cups)

Author: Nami

  • 15 g green tea leaves (Depending on green tea, it varies from 1 ½ Tbsp to 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 L room temperature or cold filtered water (4 ¼ cups)
  1. Gather the ingredient. We use this cold brew coffee/tea maker.

    5 bags of green tea in front of pitchers
  2. Put the tea leaves in the cold brew maker. I use a kitchen scale to measure the exact 15 grams.

    green tea leaves being pour into a cold brew pitcher
  3. Add 1 litter (4 ¼ cups) filtered water.

    water being poured into a cold brew pitcher with green tea leaves
  4. Let it steep in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours.

    green tea in 5 pitchers
  5. Discard the tea leaves from the pitcher. Serve with or without ice. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.

    green iced tea in a glass cup on top of marble table next to a plant

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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