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Cofftea said

Maintaining temperature during steeping

How do you maintain proper temperature during steeping. Every time I make a cup I think that letting it just sit and cool as the leaves steep (especially for long infusions) is not allowing me to have the best cuppa possible, but I haven’t figured out the best way to maintain temperature. Any tips?

14 Replies
Teafreak said

This is something that I haven’t thought about, but personally I’m not sure how much it really matters. Tea is not an exact science, and I’m not sure how big a difference 180 vs 175, etc really matters when it comes to steeping tea. I think a much bigger factor is water quality and steep time.

However, perhaps one solution would be to use a glass teapot and a tea candle. Place the tea candle under that glass teapot while steeping, and maybe that could help keep the temperature more constant throughout the steep?

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Carolyn said

I’m not certain that maintaining a consistent water temperature would do good things for the tea. I think the temperature suggestions already take into account cooling over time and this cooling prevents certain reactions from occurring in the tea leaves and this is probably desirable. Maintaining a warm or hot consistent temperature is another way to say “cooking” and I think many teas would not be their best if they were cooked.

It is fairly common for food to be scalded briefly in hot water and then removed to prevent further heat from fully converting the proteins and to keep it from destroying the enzymes in the food. Hot water that covers the leaves and is then allowed to cool slowly while still in contact with the leaves is probably doing something similar. Keeping the water hot would create a completely different biochemical signature on the tea. My guess is that it would speed the movement of taste to bitterness in blacks and create that cooked spinach taste in greens and oolongs.

Of course, like anything, it is worth a try. Let us know the results of your experiments.

Cofftea said

It doesn’t concern me w/ steep times of say 5-7 min, but that dragonwell isn’t dead yet so I’m up to 30 min. So I heat the water, steep it for 10 min, decant, reheat, steep for 10 min, and repeat. I’m thinking that the cooler the water, the less flavor escapes the leaves so by keeping the water at the proper temp, you get a stronger cuppa. I’m also thinking this is much more of a problem w/ lower steeping temp teas like whites and greens vs blacks (which I don’t steep excessively anyway).

Carolyn said

Ah, I see. That makes sense, then.

There are many components that create flavor in tea (and food). Some are volatiles and they escape in hot water and steam. For those, cool temperatures keep more of the volatiles in the tea. Other elements are not volatile and release into the water with higher temperatures. Generally, if you taste it in the tea but don’t smell it in the steam, it’s not a volatile. By the time you’ve resteeped several times, my guess is that you’ve moved away from tasting the volatiles (which are probably all gone by that point) to the non-volatiles.

@Carolyn: I just know you do something in science.

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A tea cozy over your tea pot?

Cofftea said

I steep in clear vessles and I don’t want to over the steeping. I’m not a tea cozy type person anyway.

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As a tea cozy designer, I would be very interested in knowing the definitive answer to these temperature questions.

Just personal experience, but I find that a tea cozy makes a HUGE difference in getting a piping hot cup of tea :) That, and warming the pot before making the tea.

Cofftea said

I’m sure it does, but if that’s the best way and I can’t have both then I’ll choose to watch it steep:)

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Heyes said

I don’t always do this, but I find that keeping the steeping vessel filled with hot water for a minute or so before making the tea helps keep the tea warmer during steeping – the warmed vessel cuts down on heat loss. That being said I use a French press to brew my tea, and I’m usually only making 18 oz. (my usual serving size) at a time, so I don’t find that heat loss is much of an issue.

Cofftea said

The less water you use, the quicker it cools. Mine are anywhere from 2-8oz.

Heyes said

That’s very true! But I tend most often to only brew tea for myself, and somewhat less frequently for my wife as well (and we usually share the same 18 oz). I do have an 8 cup (48 oz) French press for when I’m sharing with a larger group.

As a side note I will sometimes keep both the steeping vessel and the tea cup pre-heated with warm or hot water if I’m really diggin’ the ritual/meditative pleasures of brewing tea.

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I read elsewhere on the web
( http://veetea.com/site/articles/Water-Temperatures )
that " Once you have your water at the correct temperature, it’s best to maintain it during brewing."
This differs with the “scald briefly, then allow to cool” method described by Carolyn in a previous post in this discussion.
Both sound plausible – I would like to repeat Carolyn’s request for conducting tests, and wonder if anyone has done any experimenting yet to compare the two, and if so, what results??

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