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FEMAIL tastes tests iced tea

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Sweep down the tea and coffee aisle of your local supermarket in search of PG Tips and you’ll find the shelves peppered with new ranges of bright, colourful boxes and jars.

For where oolong might have nestled next to Darjeeling or stacked happily beneath lapsang souchong and Lady Grey, there are now rows of ‘cold brew’ teas, iced teas and ‘fruit infusions’ designed to go nowhere near a kettle.

This latest craze is for tea leaves or tea bags which you drop into cold water — to serve in a big jug full of ice and slices of fruit, or to carry around in your reusable water bottle.

Most contain a combination of herbs and tiny fruit pieces which have been heat-treated to release their flavour swiftly on contact with cold water. Some also contain green or black tea leaves.

This latest craze is for tea leaves or tea bags which you drop into cold water ¿ to serve in a big jug full of ice and slices of fruit, or to carry around in your reusable water bottle.

This latest craze is for tea leaves or tea bags which you drop into cold water ¿ to serve in a big jug full of ice and slices of fruit, or to carry around in your reusable water bottle.

This latest craze is for tea leaves or tea bags which you drop into cold water — to serve in a big jug full of ice and slices of fruit, or to carry around in your reusable water bottle.

The truth is, you can ‘cold brew’ pretty much any tea if you’ve got enough time (preferably overnight). Even an ordinary tea bag tastes refreshing if it has spent an hour in cold water (it is the boiling water which releases tannins and caffeine), and many fruit and herb teas appear to work well in cold water.

The cold brew tea trend arrived from the U.S. in 2018 when loose tea specialists Bird & Blend started experimenting with flavours, and last year big-name brands such as Lipton, Tetley and Twinings joined in. Now the UK ‘cold infusions’ market is worth £7 million, according to market researchers Nielsen, and growing fast.

It has the added benefit of being very low calorie (2-3 cals a cup), sugar free and natural. Most brands boast no artificial flavourings, colourings, sweeteners or preservatives.

And perhaps surprisingly for those of us who like our tea strong, traditional and steaming, the cold cuppa has become cool as well as cooling.

It is the drink to be seen carrying — particularly if you invest in a special glass water bottle which boasts a wide neck and filter to keep any stray tea leaves away from your mouth. (A Twinings bottle costs £10 but the top Bird & Blend glass bottle will set you back £29).

So here’s our taste test of some popular flavours . . .

This latest craze is for tea leaves or tea bags which you drop into cold water ¿ to serve in a big jug full of ice and slices of fruit, or to carry around in your reusable water bottle.

This latest craze is for tea leaves or tea bags which you drop into cold water ¿ to serve in a big jug full of ice and slices of fruit, or to carry around in your reusable water bottle.

This latest craze is for tea leaves or tea bags which you drop into cold water — to serve in a big jug full of ice and slices of fruit, or to carry around in your reusable water bottle.

Eco champion

This latest craze is for tea leaves or tea bags which you drop into cold water — to serve in a big jug full of ice and slices of fruit, or to carry around in your reusable water bottle. 

Contents: Apple, white hibiscus, rose and lychee flavouring, turmeric, citric acid and rose petals packed into silky tea bags with no string or tab. The mini bag and clear inner bag are made from plant starch and compostable wood pulp, and the box is recyclable.

Verdict: Brews to a very pretty and feminine rose colour, and smells and tastes of lychees. Tangy and sharp and extremely moreish. It worked just as well in sparkling water. 5/5

Sainsbury¿s Blackcurrant Cold Brew, £2.50 for 15 bags, sainsburys.co.uk

Sainsbury¿s Blackcurrant Cold Brew, £2.50 for 15 bags, sainsburys.co.uk

Sainsbury’s Blackcurrant Cold Brew, £2.50 for 15 bags, sainsburys.co.uk

DAILY DELIGHT

Sainsbury’s Blackcurrant Cold Brew, £2.50 for 15 bags, sainsburys.co.uk

Contents: Hibiscus (32 per cent), blackberry leaves, lemongrass, apple (12 per cent), beetroot and blackcurrant.

Verdict: An everyday fruity blend which turns the water a deep red. The blackcurrant flavour intensifies over the course of an hour to the point where it tastes one notch short of blackcurrant squash — at double the price. 2/5

FUN PARTY TRICK

Bird & Blend Blue Raspberry, £6.75 for 50g, birdandblendtea.com

Contents: Loose leaves of Chinese sencha green tea with blue pea flowers and raspberry pieces which expand and leach colour and flavour when spooned into cold water.

Verdict: Turns the water a rich blue colour, which miraculously transforms to bright purple (like methylated spirits) with a squeeze of lemon, or bright pink if you add lemonade. It’s a great summer party trick, and delicious, refreshing and very fruity, with a green tea buzz. Loose tea is more fiddly, unless you have a bottle with a filter. 5/5

Bird & Blend Blue Raspberry, £6.75 for 50g, birdandblendtea.com

Bird & Blend Blue Raspberry, £6.75 for 50g, birdandblendtea.com

Bird & Blend Blue Raspberry, £6.75 for 50g, birdandblendtea.com

Sweet Treat

Twinings Cold Infuse Clarity, £3.80 for 12 ‘infusers’ (bags), from supermarkets

Contents: Rosemary (54 per cent), natural mandarin flavouring (25 per cent), stevia leaves and vitamin C granules.

Verdict: The strong flavours of rosemary and mandarin peel shout out of the glass as the water takes on a cloudy, pale yellow hue. Once brewed (after five minutes) the taste is deliciously sweet — much sweeter than the other teas (it’s the only one containing a sweetener) — with a fizzy ‘pear drops’ aftertaste. 4/5

Twinings Cold Infuse Clarity, £3.80 for 12 ¿infusers¿ (bags), from supermarkets

Twinings Cold Infuse Clarity, £3.80 for 12 ¿infusers¿ (bags), from supermarkets

Tetley Cold Infusions Mint, Lemon and Cucumber, £2.50 for 12 bags, from supermarkets

Tetley Cold Infusions Mint, Lemon and Cucumber, £2.50 for 12 bags, from supermarkets

Twinings Cold Infuse Clarity, £3.80 for 12 ‘infusers’ (bags), from supermarkets (left) Tetley Cold Infusions Mint, Lemon and Cucumber, £2.50 for 12 bags, from supermarkets (right)

Refreshing mint

Tetley Cold Infusions Mint, Lemon and Cucumber, £2.50 for 12 bags, from supermarkets

Contents: White hibiscus, peppermint leaves (18 per cent), apple and cucumber pieces with peppermint oil.

Verdict: This has a subtle scent and flavour, like a jug of water into which you’ve dropped a few slices of cucumber and a sprig of mint — a cheaper option. But it is certainly refreshing. 3/5

Whittard Lemon Sherbert Iced Teabags, £8 for five bags, whittard.co.uk

Whittard Lemon Sherbert Iced Teabags, £8 for five bags, whittard.co.uk

Whittard Lemon Sherbert Iced Teabags, £8 for five bags, whittard.co.uk

Sip of luxury  

Whittard Lemon Sherbert Iced Teabags, £8 for five bags, whittard.co.uk

Contents: Lemon myrtle, hibiscus, ginger, apple, liquorice root, and safflower and marigold petals.

Verdict: This requires steeping in boiled water for 15 minutes, before loading with ice, but it’s delicious! It’s zingy yellow and tastes like lemon sherbert. Each bag makes a litre. 5/5

ACQUIRED TASTE

Lipton Real Iced Tea, £3.50 for 15 bags, waitrose.com

Contents: Black tea leaves (70 per cent) mixed with natural fruit flavourings and blackberry leaves in a paper tea bag attached to a string and tag printed with the words: ‘Licence to chill’.

Verdict: This flavoured black tea is a bit of an acquired taste. Sadly it wasn’t for me. 2/5

Lipton Real Iced Tea, £3.50 for 15 bags, waitrose.com

Lipton Real Iced Tea, £3.50 for 15 bags, waitrose.com

Lipton Real Iced Tea, £3.50 for 15 bags, waitrose.com

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