Iced tea is wonderful thing, and Japanese Sencha makes a delightful and refreshing drink for those hot summer days.
There are three main methods of making iced Sencha in Japan, and they vary depending upon the time you have, the amount of caffeine you want to ingest, and the quality of the tea you are using. Ichibancha Sencha, Gyokuro and Sencha Fukamushi make the best iced teas.
The Traditional Method - Brewing With Ice
This technique tends to be reserved for the highest grades of Sencha and Gyokuro, and produces a drink that is naturally low in caffeine (brewing with cold water extracts very little caffeine from the leaves, making perfect for cooling off on a hot summers evening).
- Place 7-8 grams (or 1 1/2 tablespoons) of Sencha or Gyokuro in a 200-250ml jug or teapot
- Fill the pot with ice cubes
- Wait for the ice to thaw at room temperature
- Pour between two cups (make sure you pour evenly, a little time so that each person experiences the same flavour from the tea)
- This makes approx. 200ml which is two traditional sized tea servings in Japan. Feel free to pour it into one glass and enjoy your iced tea all to yourself
Cold Water Brewing - Makes a large Jug of Iced Iced Sencha or Gyokuro
This is ideal if you want to make a large jug of iced tea, the recipe makes between 500 - 1000ml of iced tea, you simply lengthen the steeping time depending on the volume of water.
- Place 7-10 grams of Sencha or Gyokuro in a large jug
- Pour over 500 - 1000ml of cold water and refrigerate for between 3 -6 hours
- If serving immediately give the content a stir and pour straight away
- Alternatively strain the tea, and serve when required (make sure to give the iced tea a stir before you pour
Hot Water Brewing - Poured Over Ice
This is ideal for when you decide you want a quick cup of iced Sencha or Gyokuro and don't have the time or patience for the methods above. Brewing this way also maximises the release of both caffeine and catechin, ideal for if you want a quick 'pick me up'.
- Place 7-8 grams (1 1/2 tablespoons) of Sencha or Gyokuro into a teapot (or a Kyusu which is the traditional Japanese teapot with the side handle)
- Pour over 200ml of water heated to 80° C
- Brew for 2 - 3 minutes (this is longer than you would normally brew Sencha or Gyokuro for, however you want to achieve a stronger brew, as the ice will further dilute the tea)
- Fill two glasses with ice and pour the tea equally using short pours into each glass to ensure each person has an even mix of tea
There you have 3 simple ways to make beautiful iced Japanese tea, with no need for sugar or other additional ingredients. The only rule is always use the best quality teas you can.