Water Temperatures for Brewing Tea

The debate on how to brew the perfect tea and the ideal water temperature for brewing different tea varieties seems not to end. At the end of the day, this is a matter of personal preference, as well as the specifics of how you brew your tea. This includes factors such as whether you want to pre-warm your teapot and the ratio of tea leaves and water you use.

However, in case you are a new tea enthusiast, or you are not getting the flavor you desire from your tea, the following tips will assist you to brew the perfect tea.

General instruction on tea brewing

The first thing to do is to follow the instructions printed on the packaging material. Now, in case this doesn’t work out for you, try reducing the temperature, brewing for less or more time, or adding extra tea leaves.

If you are not sure, consider using cooler water. While excessively hot water can ruin tea, colder water rarely causes any damages. However, some tea enthusiasts will disagree with this point. Boiling water and allowing it to cool draws oxygen from the water, which reduces the flavor in the tea. Therefore, it’s essential to heat the water to the desired point, rather than allowing it to cool to the desired temperature.

With that, let’s look at how to brew the following teas:

White tea

Most tea enthusiasts say that white tea should be brewed with water that’s below the boiling point since high temperatures can burn your tea. The recommended temperature for white tea is around 160 degrees F—which is when you see tiny bubbles, around 3 mm forming at the bottom of your pot.

Green tea

Here, you’d rather gamble with lower temperatures when brewing green tea. In case your green tea has a bitter or overly grassy taste, try lowering the temperature when brewing your next cup. Generally, most green teas should be brewed below the boiling temperature of —212 degrees F. The temperature should range between 150 degrees F and 180 degrees F.

If you choose to warm water in a pot, you should know that you have achieved the right temperature when you see tiny bubbles rising to the surface or forming at the bottom of your pot. Please note that steamed Japanese green teas require lower temperatures compared to other varieties of green teas. Other shaped or scented green teas, such as Jasmine Pearls can be brewed at marginally higher temperatures. Yellow tea, on the other hand, should be brewed like green tea.

Oolong tea

The ideal temperature for brewing oolong tea depends on how you want to prepare your tea. Gong Fu requires slightly higher temperatures to brew, in addition to shorter brew times and more leaves, unlike western-style brewing. The western-style brewing method requires oolong tea to be brewed between 190 degrees F and 200 degrees F. In case you are using a pot to heat your water, it should have small bubbles, about 5 mm, as well as moderate steam.

Black tea

Some black teas, like First Flush Darjeelings, are very delicate and require slightly lower temperatures (180 degrees F – 190 degrees F) to brew. However, you can brew the majority of black teas between 200 degrees F and 212 degrees F.

If warming water in a pot, you should see small bubbles—4 mm to 8 mm in size, as well as moderate steam when the water reaches a temperature range of 190 degrees F and 200 degrees F. However, if you see very large bubbles, your water has reached 212 degrees F.

Pu-erh tea

Pu-erh tea requires an optimal temperature of 205 degrees F. Your water should have a mix of both small and large bubbles at this temperature range.

Tisanes or herbal teas

Also known as herbal teas, tisanes come from different plants, meaning their brewing also varies. A few herbal teas, like yerba mate and catnip, shouldn’t be steeped in fully boiling water. Others, like fennel seed, require boiling for them to release their optimal flavor. However, it’s important to note that boiling tisanes or teas creates decoction, instead of infusion.

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