Summertime ice brewing organic Japanese green tea! This method takes a good deal of time and great patience so hold tight...
The idea behind this ice brewing method is to extract the sweet and savory components of the tea leaves without the astringency and caffeine. Apparently, for all this to occur effectively the tea leaves must not open. Hence, the reason why we're using ice instead of hot water as hot water would open up the leaves quickly.
Let's give it a shot...
The first thing to do is to select some excellent quality organic green tea leaves that you know have an abundance of natural sweetness. It's also preferable to select leaves that are intact e.g. needle-like leaves such as organic asamushi sencha or shaded leaves like organic gyokuro, or even perhaps organic kamairicha.
We selected some nice needle-like leaves from one of our lighter steamed organic sencha and put them in a small shiboridashi. About 5 grams in total. For shaded teas like organic gyokuro more leaf might be required.
Then we added six ice cubes which would total about 3oz (90ml) of water if they all melted (minus the water the tea leaves absorb), left the lid off, and started the marathon wait! The teapot was left inside in a fairly sunny spot:
After ten minutes, all the leaves had become wet, but the ice cubes hadn't melted much. The anticipation at this point was starting to build!
After 20 minutes (Yes, 20 minutes!) anticipation had changed slightly to impatience. However, ice cold water from the ice cubes was now fully covering the leaves! The ice still wasn't completely melted, though:
After another 8 minutes (28 minutes in total) we could wait no longer! It was time to pour, and after a full 28 minutes the tea was definitely going to be poured down to the very last drop:
In total there was perhaps not much more than 1oz of tea. The ice cubes were about half their original size:
The leaves were still pretty much closed which was the aim:
Was it worth it? TOTALLY YES! Although it was gone in a flash, it had the most incredible strong sweetness and long aftertaste without any astringency at all. Not sure whether you could say it was refreshing, but it was certainly quite a remarkable sweetness.
For the second steep it was a case of cheating a little bit by adding some ice cold water over the leaves to start with.
Even with the addition of ice cold water, the next steep took another 18 minutes to reach the stage where the ice cubes were almost melted completely:
The second steep had the same delicious sweetness as the first steep although not as potent. This is what we ended up with after two steeps:
There was a third steep with ice cold water which brought out some astringency in the taste, and the leaves had started to open up more. It was more refreshing, but didn't have the same amount of sweetness as either of the first two steeps. Three steeps was enough, the leaves probably could have gone further, but it was time to bring this time consuming session to an end.
There's no doubt this is a brilliant brewing method to extract the sweetness from the tea leaves and actually makes for a brilliant session of organic gyokuro aswell, or any other organic green tea with a good amount of natural sweetness in the leaves. However, you need plenty of time and a great deal of patience. Give it a try if you can spare an hour or so :)!