Brewing Tea for the Colder Season

     Here at Hackberry, we love it when the weather changes to fall and winter. Arizona gets pretty hot in the summer, so we welcome the cooler weather! Another great perk of the weather change is that it’s the perfect time to break out some of our favorite hot tea blends. Iced and hot tea can both be enjoyed throughout the year, but for us, there is no better time for a hot cup of tea than the winter. A good cup of hot tea releases the full flavor of your tea choice and allows you to find all the subtleties in your favorite brew. It is important to note that “hot” and “iced” teas are preferred brewing methods, not specific tea types. Any tea, whether it be fruity or herbal, can be enjoyed warm.

     Hot tea can be enjoyed at any time of the year, no matter where you are. But one of the perks of hot tea is that it can increase your overall body temperature to make you feel a lot warmer. So, on chilly days or brisk nights, there is nothing better than brewing up a nice cup of your favorite hot tea, bundling up with a comfy blanket, and enjoying your favorite book. Since the water you use to brew hot tea can be around 200°F, it is best to make when you are not somewhere too hot. Our favorite time to drink hot tea is in the afternoon or evening once the sun starts to go down. It helps to bring in the cozy evening!

Difference Between Hot & Iced Tea

     There are a couple of differences between hot and iced tea, other than just their temperatures. Typically, a cup of hot tea will have more flavor and elements than an iced cup of the same kind of tea. This is because many of the more subtle notes and flavors come out in hot tea but are subdued in chilled water with iced tea. In fact, most food and beverages have a less subtle taste when they are cold versus when they are warm. One common discussion about hot versus iced tea is the number of antioxidants and other ingredients that provide health benefits in tea. Most people think that iced tea does not have nearly as many antioxidants and other health benefits compared to hot tea. This statement is true to a certain extent. If you purchase pre-bottled iced tea from the store, you will most likely consume something with more sugars and much fewer health benefits than homemade loose-leaf iced tea. The way manufacturers have to produce and ship iced tea means there are more added sugars and other ingredients in pre-bottled iced tea. However, if you prepare iced tea at home by heating water, placing a bag of loose-leaf tea in hot water, and then putting the mixture in the fridge to cool, you are getting nearly all the same health benefits as a similar serving of hot tea! The key lies in using high-quality loose-leaf tea and preparing it properly.

Hot Tea Brewing Methods

     We have already covered a few specific methods for brewing tea in some of our recent blog posts. For a quick, at-a-glance guide for brewing different teas, check out our Hackberry Brewing Guide. There are two essential things to keep in mind when talking about brewing hot tea: water temperature and steep time. In general, most tea types require the water to be at about 200°F. However, it is crucial to note that both green and white tea asks for significantly cooler temperatures. Teas in the white and green tea families are looking for temperatures at 175°F. This temperature decrease is because green and white teas are more sensitive to water temperature, and putting them in water that is too hot can cause the tea leaves to burn out a bit a leave you with a more bitter cup. 

     Steep time is the other important factor when making your favorite cup of hot tea. All teas require vastly different steep times, even the ones that ask for similar water temperatures. Getting the proper steep time for your tea is all about giving it the right amount of time to develop the correct flavors and letting the tannins in the tea release to give your tea color and some extra kick. If you steep for too long, the tannins overwhelm the other natural flavors, and you end up with a more bitter cup. Steep for not long enough, and your tea is just going to be slightly flavored water with none of the taste or benefits of a typical cup of tea. Make sure you pay careful attention to the steep time on whatever kind of tea you choose to make! If you feel like you want more flavor out of your tea, increase the amount of loose-leaf tea you use, rather than changing the temperature or steep time. 

Our Favorite Teas for a Warm Brew

     Every tea we offer can be enjoyed warm, but there are certain types that shine with this brewing method. Below are some of our favorite “warm-brewed” teas depending on the mood or event.

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