There’s the simple and familiar way to brew your daily cup of tea, dipping an infuser or tea bag into hot water. Pure is best, right? But there are also creative, fancier, and even more scientific ways to sip your favorite herbal brews — and one of the newest, craziest methods involves nitrogen.
Adding nitrogen to a cup of tea might seem like an odd science experiment, but at Contra Coffee in Santa Ana, California, it’s become a staple on both the menu and among customers. The shop’s owner, Paul Del Mundo, first turned to nitrogen-brewed tea when he began to notice his body’s distaste for dairy products. A lifelong fan of adding condensed milk into his Thai tea, Del Mundo discovered that he needed an alternative tea recipe to soothe his stomach. So, with his fellow food scientists and girlfriend Julie Nguyen, he decided to begin brewing his tea with nitrogen after finding inspiration in nitrogen-brewed beer.
What makes the nitrogen method so unique? Well, it adds gas — nitrogen gas, which is dense and non-soluble. This means that when nitrogen is added into a water-based beverage, it reacts by thickening the liquid to create a creamy, opaque blend. A nitrogen-infused brewing method is more than scientific; it produces a creamier, tastier tea for those who enjoy adding milk and sugar. And, it offers an important health benefit: the nitrogen keeps the tea creamy without adding dairy or increased calories.
Of course, not everyone can perfect their own nitrogen-infused tea brew — it’s a process best left to the professionals. As nitrogen-infused products like beer, coffee, and (of course) tea grow increasingly popular, look for your local tea shops to begin trying this new blend. Who knows, it may even convince you to give up on milk and creamer!