Tea Temperature Tips
Different tea varieties brew better in temperature appropriate water. Green and white tea leaves are more delicate than black tea leaves or herbals, and hence require water that is at a lower temperature to brew properly. Boiling water may be fine for herbals that are dense and need all that heat to draw out the important essences from the plant. Boiling water, however, will scorch green tea resulting in a very bitter cup, loosing its subtle finesse.
So how to know when your water is at the right temperature for your loose tea?
A water heater/dispenser that keeps water at a preset temperature is a luxury to have, and a no fuss way to get your tea brewed to perfection. This is what we use in our shop on the Tea Bar.
An electric kettle that has an automatic shut off is a super easy way to get your water hot in a hurry. This is what I use at home for my personal tea brewing. Since mine does not have a temperature control setting, I know my kettle well and pay attention to the sounds it makes. As it’s heating up, it makes a lot of noise and rustling. When the water is not quite hot enough to boil but getting close, it gets very quiet all of a sudden settling down before the roar. That’s when I pull it off the base. I let it sit for a minute to cool before brewing my jasmine green tea. If I’m brewing a black tea, it’s good to go right away.
Like the old fashioned method of using a stove top whistle kettle? Simply listen to it as it heats up, and you’ll get to know the point in its cycle that’s the right temp. If it happens to boil, no sweat, just set it off to the side for a few minutes to cool down before pouring.
And for a special treat, try using a glass kettle! This one you observe as the water heats up. Watch for the “fish eyes” on the bottom. That’s the temp for green tea. As those fish eyes start to break loose and lift from the bottom, take the kettle off and steep your black tea.
If all else fails and your kettle boils whilst you're not watching (as often happens), don't fret! You can still get a good cuppa without having to restart your entire brewing process. Simply take the kettle off the heat and let cool before pouring into your cup; 1-2 minutes for a black tea, rooibos, or dark oolong, 3-5 minutes for green, white, or light oolong teas.
We have a Tea Brewing Guide for use with your teas. Remember that these are simply guidelines. The instructions listed need to be adjusted according to your tastes… as well as your time and equipment. How do you prepare your water for making tea?