All you diehard tea drinkers know that different teas need different water temperatures. Too hot and your tea ends up being cooked instead of steeped. Too cool and the flavors inside those wonderful tea leaves won’t be unleashed. So, how do you know when it’s right? Tea thermometers, of course!
Some tea aficionados say they can tell when the water reaches the right temperature by listening to it. I can buy that. The sound changes as the water heats. Of course, you have to be heating your water either on a stove or over an open flame to do this. Heating in an electric kettle and in a microwave makes this method of detecting water temp a bit impractical.
There’s always eyesight. You can actually watch the water as it heats. The molecules get rather active, and this activity can be seen with the naked eye. Bubbles will rise to the surface. How many and how frequently they rise is an indicator or water temp. To use this method, though, you need to count fast or have quite a bit of experience watching the water and then determining the temperature.
Both methods are a bit lacking in precision, something your fine teas need. Green teas need a water temperature of 160-175˚ F and a steeping time of 2-3 minutes. Black teas need 200-212˚ F and steeping time of 4-5 minutes generally speaking. And so on.
Thus, the tea thermometer is quickly becoming an essential tool in the serious tea drinker’s arsenal. Fortunately, there are new ones devised every day. You can go high-tech or low key.
The high-tech options are digital thermometers with or without timers. Some features to look for:
- Waterproof and shatterproof (for those “Oops!” moments)
- A digital temperature display for better accuracy (large enough for those of us with glasses to read even without them)
- Able to display at least from 50-212˚ Fahrenheit (a wider temperature range is even better)
- Option of displaying temperatures in Centigrade, too
- Pre-programmed with settings for different types of teas and herbals (I saw one with 18 settings) and brewing strengths (no more guess work)
- A timer with a digital LCD display
- An alarm, preferably both visual and audio
- An on/off button with an auto-off feature (in case you get so caught up enjoying your tea that you forget about turning the thermometer off)
- Depending on the style, a storage sleeve or case is good to have
A low key option is your basic glass thermometer (if you can only find them marked in Centigrade, you can easily convert to Fahrenheit at this Website). Of course, breakage is always a danger here, but you don’t have to worry about batteries running low.
Got your thermometer ready? Great! Let’s get steeping!
Find out what’s steeping over at A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!