Making that water, hot, Hot, HOT!
I’ve seen some discussion in other areas about how to best heat your water to get the best flavor out of your teas.
Fish eye-boil, boil and let cool, bring up to a certain temperature without a boiling.
What do you do to get your water to the right temperature? What do you reccomend to others?
I eyeball my tea to get the right temperature… this is not a “fool-proof” plan by any means, but, it works for me about 97% of the time. I am quite anti-gadget so I don’t want to use a thermometer to measure the heat of my water. (however, I have asked for a fancy-pants tea brewing machine aka the breville or the zarafina for mothers day/my birthday – which are only a couple of weeks apart – so then it would seem that most of the work will be done for me)
For black teas, I will bring it to a boil. For herbals, I will bring it to just under a boil. For green teas I look for a good amount of steam and the “rapid bubbles” to begin to form at the base of the kettle. For white and yellow teas, I look for about the same temperature as the green. For rooibos and honeybush, I usually bring it to a boil but it also depends upon the “additives” of the blend – if there are a lot of herbs in the blend, I will bring it to a “just below” boiling point.
Oolong is an entirely different beast all together, as it depends upon how “green” (or under-oxidized) the tea leaves are. If they are very green, I use the same temperature of water for the green tea. If they are darker, then I allow it to get slightly hotter. If it’s an almost fully-oxidized Oolong, I will bring it to just under a boil.
Sometimes, if I happen to get the water too hot for green/white/yellow/Oolong tea, I will pour the water into a ceramic vessel before I pour it into my smart brewing device, to allow the ceramic to cool the water to the right temperature.
Like I said, it’s a very “non-tech” approach to it and it does not always result in the perfect cup of tea. But more often than not, it works quite well for me and has for many years now. (12 years as a tea drinker, 10 years as a tea fanatic, 8 years as a tea blender)
I thought I was a low tech person until I got my Breville Variable Temperature kettle. I love pressing two buttons and ta-da!
I use it at work, and use my old stovetop kettle at home, which is fine because I mostly drink black teas and herbal tisanes at home. But if something happens to my over a decade old stovetop kettle I am SO getting another Breville for home!!! I LOVE IT!!!!
Part of the reason I started this thread is that I usually just bring the water up to the temperature up to the level I want, then use it, rather than boil and let cool.
I’ve been reading recently that water somehow tastes better if brought to a boil and let cool. This doesn’t seem right to me, as it causes a loss of oxygen.
What have you all heard about this?
My understanding is that the water becomes deoxygenated if you allow it to sit there and boil for any length of time, but not if you just bring it to the boiling point and immediately take the kettle off the heat (or turn the electric kettle off or down).
@wombatgirl – I have heard that as well. I believe that bringing tea to a boil and then letting it sit to cool will allow much of the oxygen in the water to dissipate and that oxygen is needed to help the tea leaves release as much flavor as possible. So, in my opinion it is better to bring the water to the temperature you want it, rather than to bring it to a boil and letting it cool to the desired temperature.
I have heard very strong advocates for the other train of thought, however.
Perhaps I should do a side by side sometime… after my taste buds have regained full abilities once again.
I don’t have any temperature-variable kettles at home, so I just bring it to a boil then let it cool to the temperature, using a cheap milk-frothing thermometer I picked up. At work there is a variable kettle (although it goes by intervals of ten, and the last ‘variable temperature’ you can pick before just selecting boiling is 190, which is kind of annoying) in the staff lunch room, and I tend to just use that (although I know it’s not exactly perfect).
Interesting, and important, topic since the water used is just as important as the tea leaves. I used to use the first method: bring water to the right temperature and then take it off and pour over the leaves. I was corrected however by my tea master friend in Taiwan who told me that by bringing the water to a fish-eye boil and allowing it to cool to the desired temperature will actually help the tea leaves open up more of the aromas and flavours they are capable of displaying. I use a ceramic Lin’s kettle to allow the water to cool in, mostly because I now know how long to let it sit in that particular vessel for a given tea.
If you really want to improve your water though here are some other tea master recommendations: boil it in a non-metal (i.e. non-steel or aluminum kettle) because the metal changes the chemical composition of the water. When choosing your water source: glacial water is best, fresh stream water second, well-water third, lake water fourth and city water dead last (because of the chemical additives in most city water). Don’t store it in a metal or plastic container (chemical composition thing again). A stone, ceramic or glass container is best. I’m sure you’re getting the point here: it’s often unrealistic to use the “perfect” water.
I’ve had tea made with glacial water only once and it was an excellent aged pu erh, but the water really made the difference. Too bad I don’t live beside a glacier…
I like Rooibos after a full boil just calms. For black tea I let the bubbles almost stop after a boil. For white tea I try to stop the heat as soon as bubbles form, but before a boil.
I experiment based on different bubble shapes, and tend to note in my head which type of bubbles lead to my favorite outcomes with each tea.
I actually have a beverage thermometer, and I’ve tested it on different types of bubbles in the pot to get a sense of what each of the temperatures look like. But for me, the beverage thermometer doesn’t serve to help my own experimentation as much as it serves the purpose of giving me a number for sharing my brewing recommendations with others. It wouldn’t do much good to say: “Well, in the pot in MY kitchen it looks like THIS.” =)