Cold Tea Vs Hot Tea Health Benefits
How Long Can You Keep or Steep?

Does cold tea have the same health benefits as hot tea? How long can you keep the tea after steeping?

The best way to enjoy green tea is to steep a small amount at a time and drink it hot. However, due to the demands of modern lifestyle, this is not always possible.

A 2001 study conducted by The Chinese University of Hong Kong discovered that you can keep your tea at ambient up to 7 hours, and still enjoy its antioxidant benefits.

But first let me explain why drinking hot tea is preferable.


Hot is Better

Drinking hot tea has two advantages.

Tea antioxidants are very reactive - they oxidize quickly by forming compounds with oxygen in the air. Hot tea is fresher and therefore contains more antioxidants.

You enjoy more of the tea's aroma and flavors, as your tongue and palate is more sensitive at high temperature. Flavorful teas contain more nutrition. If you can't taste the quality, chances are there is little health benefits.


2001 Study

Chen and fellow scientists in The Chinese University of Hong Kong discovered that the antioxidants in tea drinks are stable in liquid conditions.

Even after a 7-hour brew at 98 degrees Celsius, only 20% of the antioxidants degraded.

To quote the scientists:


The goal of the present study was to examine the stability of [antioxidants] as a mixture under various processing conditions.

The stability study demonstrated that [antioxidants] was stable in water at room temperature.

When it was brewed at 98 °C for 7 h, longjing [antioxidants] degraded by 20%.

Lemon Effects

Adding lemon to your tea can help prolong the life of antioxidants. It can also increase the potency of the tea.

Green Tea With Lemon - Increase Antioxidants Benefits

How to Brew

Many people like to steep a large pot of tea at a time. This is fine for steeping black tea, and is not so suitable for green tea.

The best way to steep green tea is to get yourself an electric tea kettle, and use an infuser cup or gaiwan. The idea is to steep one cup at a time, and infused the leaves several times.

Here are a few guides to get you started:

Tea Kettle Review Guide - Electric, Stovetop, Glass or Copper?

Tea Infuser Review - Mesh Ball, Stainless Steel and Mug

Know Your Tea

What could be more refreshing than a cold beverage during a hot day? But if you have just bought a tea and wanted to know if it is any good, then you may want to test it by drinking it hot.

The key is to know your tea well enough to know that it tastes fresh, and therefore contains some health benefits.

  • Is it unflavored? Flavored tea will prevent you from properly "tasting" the tea.

  • Does it taste clean, slightly tannic (or astringent) and fresh?

  • Astringency is the feeling of dryness or skin contracting. It is the feeling you get when eating the skins of banana or grapes. Tea antioxidants are astringent, so a bit of astringent is a good sign. Too much is a sign of low quality.

  • The tea shouldn't taste bitter or bland.

  • Can it infuse 3 times while retaining the flavors?

  • Is the tea liquor clear and bright, and not clouded?

Watch the Signs

If your tea is flavored, tastes bland or bitter, chances are that it is low quality. If this is the case, keeping it in fridge would have minimal impact, as there is little antioxidants to start with anyway.

If you are drinking a high quality tea, always try to drink it in the same day. If you leave it to cool for too long, you will observe "browning" - the tea liquor loses its luster and transparency, and acquires a brown color.

This is because the tea antioxidants turn brown, very much like an apple does when it is exposed to air.

You may also find the tea tastes less fresh.


Zhen-Yu Chen, Qin Yan Zhu, David Tsang, and Yu Huang (2001). Degradation of Green Tea Catechins in Tea Drinks. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2001, 49 (1), pp 477–482.

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