The Importance of Water Temperatures For Brewing Tea

The Importance of Water Temperatures For Brewing Tea
Article By: @MayKingTea

If you’re a big tea drinker then you’ve probably heard that there are optimum and “correct” water temperatures for brewing different kinds of teas. This is true due to the different properties of each tea. Let’s be specific though, to the fact that we’re referring to real loose leaf tea- not bagged tea. If you’re drinking bagged tea then it doesn’t really matter what temperature of water you’re using. Nothing is going to affect the taste or health properties of bagged tea.

For those of you who have the time and dedication to be extra careful and specific with your water temperatures, I’ve listed below the optimum water temperature ranges for the major types of loose leaf tea.

If, like me, you are heavily into the art of tea but also have a very hectic schedule and are without specific kitchen gadgets that can keep water at certain temps, I’ll also share easy to follow tips on approximating the right temperatures for the major tea types.

How Long To Cool Boiling Water Before Steeping Tea. Bring your water to a full and vigorous boil. Remember, if you’re using tap water, allow it to boil for at least a full 5 minutes to kill off bacteria. After the full 5 minutes turn off the heat. If you’re using a kettle that has a removable top, go ahead and remove that top to allow the water to cool down for the below times before pouring over the tea leaves:

  • approximately 5 to 7 minutes for Green Teas,
  • approximately 5 minutes for White Teas,
  • approximately 3 minutes for Oolong Tea, Black and Pu-Erh Teas.

If you’re kettle doesn’t have a removable top, you’ll have to pour the water into the teapot or directly into mugs/cups. Allow the water to cool for slightly less time than the above list since the water will cool faster outside of the hot kettle.

If you’re using a microwave to heat water, I’d have to honestly tell you that you need to make just a little more time for real tea drinking.

Here are optimum water temperatures for different tea types:

  • Green Tea has a wide range, between 145°F – 185°F (63°C – 85°C). Typically, higher grade Green Teas do well with lower temperatures. Remember that Green Tea does not require a long steeping time; typically 2 to 3 minutes is more than enough. Over-steeping will result in that bitter taste people incorrectly associate with this highly antioxidant tea.
  • White Tea is best in the 170°F – 185°F (77°C – 85°C). White Tea can be steeped a bit longer than most Greens since their flavor is more delicate and subtle.
  • Oolong Tea is best in 185°F – 195°F (85°C – 90°C).  Oolong Tea should be steeped for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Pu-Erh does well with water at 185°F – 195°F (85°C – 90°C). This reddish brown, rich tea has a very short steeping time at just under 30 seconds. The first pour over the leaves should be flushed out before steeping for the 20 to 30 seconds and having the first brew. A real and good Pu-Erh tea can be brewed up to 18 or 20 times before losing its flavor.
  • Black Tea can withstand the highest temperatures with a brewing temperature of around 206°F (96°C). Depending on the quality of the tea, black tea should be steeped for about 3 to 5 minutes.

Happy Tea Drinking!

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