The Sun Tea Ice Cube Experiment
Not a straight water fan (no taste), I drink cold tea. Especially in the summer. As I have an East facing kitchen window, I make sun tea: cold water, tea, and time. The tea sits overnight, the flavor is absorbed by the water, and in the morning, voila! cold, all-day-sipping tea. No heating water, no timers, no mess.
But I was interested to know, taste wise, if there is a difference between sun tea, and hot tea with added ice cubes. Turns out, there is a huge difference.
Starting with Assam black tea, and any tea will work, I poured some into a glass container, filled it with cold water, replaced the lid, and wandered off until the next morning. Black sun tea has a beautiful color, and smells strongly of flavor. The taste is subtle, with no aftertaste, no bitterness, no astringency.
Anticipating the comparison, I brewed the tea hot, then added ice cubes. The taste test was a no-brainer. The ice cube tea didn’t smell as flavorful, and the taste was mildly flat and diluted, like ice cubes had been added to it.
Because I thought that this might happen, I also brewed hot tea, and allowed it to cool to room temperature. It fared only moderately better than the iced tea.
Chemistry changes the taste between hot and cold water brewing methods, and for my taste, I prefer the easy-peasy-lemon-squeezie version of cold water, tea, patience, and wonderfulness.