In my last post I discussed how important it can be to brew different tea types using different water temperatures; the correct temperature can separate a passable cup of tea from an almost mind-blowing experience. However, the ideal temperature for different tea types ranges from 140º F to 212º F (boiling). With such a wide range, it can be difficult and even overwhelming to try and achieve the proper temperature for each tea.
Luckily, there are a number of techniques that can help you get your water to the right temperature without too much effort, expense, or even a thermometer! Firstly, as described in a much earlier article, an electric kettle with selectable temperature settings is ideal for reaching all of the temperature requirements with ease. Some of us prefer traditional heating, cannot afford an electric kettle, or might be traveling and in situations where water preparation is more rustic and an electric kettle is an unavailable luxury.
For those circumstances, here are a few tricks and tips:
- Japanese Green Tea: To achieve the ideal temperature of 140º-160º, heat the water until steaming or boiling, then decant into a separate vessel like a mug, teapot or pitcher. When the outer surface of the vessel is cool enough to hold without burning your fingers or letting go because of discomfort, the water should be in the ideal range. Either add the leaves if the water is in a mug, or pour the water into another vessel with leaves for infusion.
- Chinese Green Tea: To achieve the ideal temperature of 170º-180º, heat the water until it begins steaming. In a kettle, this usually occurs shortly after the water starts making a gentle hissing noise. If you have to boil the water, you can use a similar method to the Japanese tea method, but use the water earlier, when it’s still a bit too hot to hold onto.
- White Tea, Oolong, and Darjeeling Tea: To achieve the ideal temperature of 190º-200º, boil your water, then set the kettle aside for at least a minute. Since you’re still going for a pretty high temperature, it will only take a few moments for the water to cool enough to become the right temperature for these slightly more finicky teas.
- Black Tea: Boiling water is, of course, just fine for black teas. Just be careful not to overboil your water—flat water makes for flat tea!
As always, experimentation is key — these are just a few techniques, so let your imagination run wild while homing in on your ideal preparation for your favorite teas.
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