Have you, out of random curiosity, ever wondered to yourself: can you freeze tea? Of course, practically, everybody knows you could. All you do is make a brew and place it in the freezer. But what does it do to the tea? Does it decrease the flavor or intensity? Does it increase it?
You are not alone in asking these questions. Frozen tea, just like frozen coffee, is a hot topic among the right circles. What distinguishes frozen tea, however, is that tea is acceptable at any time of day. Lovers of the drink may well get a craving for their desired brew in the middle of the night. In that instance, they’re going to want some on hand, perhaps stored away in a freezer.
So: can you freeze tea? If so, how long does it last in a frozen state? And how can I utilize it properly when I fancy a brew?
Worry not, we have you covered. Below is a quick rundown of everything you need to know the next time you’re toying with stocking your fridge with a tub of freshly made tea.
Can you freeze tea?
Freezing tea is not only entirely possible but can come with unique benefits. With the right level of preparation, you can freeze tea any time you like, if you’re inclined to enjoy a colder brew. During summer, frozen tea can be used for refreshing treats such as ice pops, tea granita and even tea ice cubes.
Some tea freezers like to brew their tea to its strongest point so that the intensity of the flavour isn’t tarnished by the ice. You may be well advised to also sweeten the tea prior to freezing it. This could be achieved through basic sugar, honey or maple dust. Can you add milk? Sure. Milk defrosts surprisingly well and will not curdle, so long as you’re not blending it with a citrus tea.
When it comes to the right container, glass ones will work fine if you take proper precautions, lest you end up with a glass explosion in your freezer. Nobody wants that. So leave a lot of room, at least two inches, so your tea can expand while freezing. To be really on the safe side, you could keep the lid off your glass container until the process is finished.
If you cannot bear to risk the chance of a glass explosion and are finding yourself waking up in cold sweats over the matter, then you can just go for a plastic container instead. Overall, they offer much more wiggle room, even expanding with the tea, unlike the stubborn glass container. In any case, it’s always wise to leave a little headroom.
Can you freeze fresh tea leaves?
Okay, so it makes sense that a container of plain liquid would freeze well, but how about the bones of the stuff? Good news.
Just like brewed tea, fresh tea leaves are also freezer friendly! The process is very straightforward, though you should know that it’s not obligatory: tea leaves can kept in an airtight container at room temperature for a year without spoiling. But if you prefer to freeze them, that’s fine!
Be aware that once you thaw the tea leaves, they should be used straight away as the thawing process begins to steep the tea, spoiling the tea, and you don’t want that. Needless to say, because the tea will steep once you thaw it, you should only freeze it once. Freezing them several times won’t cause any bodily harm; it’ll just make for a very poor cup of tea.
Are they any teas that shouldn’t be frozen? Absolutely. As fun as frozen free-for-all sounds, it’s not advised by experts in the industry. Loose leaf teas with fruits and herbs added to them should never be frozen as it will damage the essential oils and aromas in the said fruit and herbs.
How to use frozen tea
Frozen tea can be simply warmed up again to be enjoyed the way it was originally made, or you can take advantage of its new state and get experimental. You could, for example, make a tea granita, which is a semi-frozen, shaved, flavourful ice treat. Simply shave your frozen product into a cup or bowl an enjoy.
Smoothies are another option when it comes to frozen tea. Mix your icy brew with spinach and fruit to create a double green tea smoothie. If you’re looking for a summery drink, throw pineapple, coconut milk and chai black tea into a blender and mix together to create a tea similar to a piña colada.
You could also go for a tea snow cone. For this, you’ll need to fix yourself a tea syrup. Simply pour it over a cup or bowl or shaved ice and enjoy. For those who don’t have the right equipment when it comes to shaving ice, a blender should work perfectly fine.
And then we have the ‘tea frappe.’ You may have already seen a variation of this at your favorite coffee shop, so why not try it at home? You’ll need to lend a strong tea for this, with ice, milk, and a sweetener of your choice. Ideally, you want your frappe to pack a punch. After all, matcha often uses the whole leaf to ensure vigor.
How long does tea last when frozen?
Tea leaves and brewed tea can be frozen for around six months, though this practice is largely pointless given that they keep just as fine and longer in an airtight container at room temperature.
Maybe you understand the pointlessness of freezing tea but have made a fresh batch with plenty leftover and don’t want to waste. A very understandable problem. In that case, sticking the rest in the freezer is perfectly justified. If you have company, and they chastise you for keeping tea in the freezer despite the fact it does so better and longer at normal temperatures, you can tell them that you’re actually being economical.
How to store teabags long term
Tea does expire, though it will never seriously harm you. The majority of the tea you find in supermarkets is already old and it still tastes good. That being said, significantly old tea is something you’d rather avoid. One simple tip would be to source teas that list their picking date and keep them away from heat, light and moisture to ensure freshness.
This may come as a shock, but the expiration date on your tea package doesn’t really determine the quality of your tea. An expiration date merely shows how long the seller is willing to take responsibility for consistency, rather than how long-lasting the tea is when it comes to taste. White tea, black tea and roasted oolong tea can last for several years, believe it or not, so long as they’re properly stored
Controlling moisture is key, especially when it comes to the shelf life of white, black, and oolong tea. While glass containers may look good for your tea-centric Instagram, they don’t help the potency of tea at all. If left in the sun, it will cause your tea to go stale.
Heat in general is a big no-no. Avoid it like you yourself would on a hot day. Tea exposed to heat can trigger chemical changes, overcooking the teas. Alternatively, exposed to the cold can increase the chances of condensation, moisture and even mold. We implore tea lovers to invest in a few airtight plastic containers for pure peace of mind. And, most importantly, a good brew!