Herbal ‘Ice’ Tea?
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Charlie Laborte
Posted on: August 14, 1998

I was just wondering if herbal tea is weakened if it is chilled. Is it more effective while hot? Because with all this hot weather it is not that easy drinking the tea hot.

In many cases chilled tea will work just as effectively, but not always. The difficulty is that there is little information available that can help you to decide if your tea will or will not work when chilled.

There are two important considerations. One is the solubility of the active constituents of the tea. If the active constituents are more soluble when warm or hot, then as you chill the tea, some of the active constituents may precipitate (solidify or make the tea cloudy), possibly interfering with how much you get into the body. Or, as likely, other supporting or antagonistic constituents may be affected by the chilling, causing an imbalance between the agents you want and those you don’t want.

The second consideration is that the active constituents may degrade or change into inactive forms, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the tea. If you are taking a medicinal tea then it may be possible to determine the solubility of the active constituents (if known) from chemistry references -- but for the vast majority of herbs the solubility of these compounds won’t be available, and you will be guesing what happens when the tea is chilled.

In general, in the case of medicinal herbal teas, it is best to stick with the traditional forms of preparation because these have been tried over hundreds of years and proved to be effective. In the case of beverage teas (taken for enjoyment), then let taste be your judge.

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