What's wrong with this tea? - Pt.1 : Water Temperature For All Types Of Teas. - Number E Tea Company


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Issue No.4

On our very first day at the market, my sister came to our booth and supported us by buying a heavily oxidized oolong. Later that week, she revealed to me that she didn’t like the tea AT ALL, admitting that it was way TOO BITTER. Surprised by her answer, I questioned her and realized that she didn’t follow my recommendations in regards to the steeping instructions.

There are some things that you need to take into account when brewing a cup of tea. For this blog, we will talk about water temperature.


Recommended Water Temperatures

If you browse on the internet, you will realize that recommended temperatures may vary from one site to another. Below are a range of temperatures that can be used for different types of tea :

Tea Type & Recommended Temperatures

White tea

75 °C to 80 °C

Yellow Tea

75 °C to 85 °C

Japanese Green Tea

60 °C to 75 °C

Black Tea

95 °C

Pu-Ehr

90 °C to 95 °C

Herbal Tea

75 °C to 80 °C

Chinese Green Tea

75 °C to 85 °C

Oolong Tea

95 °C



Ways to Measure water Temperature.

There are many ways that can be used to obtain the recommended temperature. The easiest method is to use a pre-programmed kettle which will give you the perfect temperature for different types of teas. You can also wait for the water to cool down, use a thermometer or pay close attention to the way water changes as it boils. This traditional chinese method was first experimented by a calligrapher named Cai Xiang (1012-1067) and included in his 1049 book - Record of Tea.

According to Cai Xiang, water temperature is determined by the size of the bubbles that are created when water is exposed to heat.

  • Shrimp eyes (about 70 °C) : the first small bubbles - about the size of a shrimp eye - start to appear at the bottom of the water.

  • Crab eye (around 80 °C) :  the bubble grow larger to a crab eye size, and the first small wisps of steam will start to be visible from the top of the water.

  • Fish eyes (around 85 °C) : bubbles the size of a fish eye start to appear and  rise to the top. If you’re using a traditional kettle, this will be the first time you’ll be able to hear it making noises.

  • String of pearls (between 90-95 °C) : a steady stream of bubbles forms that look like a row of pearls on a string.

  • Raging torrent aka the rolling boil (the temperature has now reached 100 °C): this temperature is suitable for strong black teas, tea bags and tisanes

 
Picture: Workers Hand Rolling Green Tea in India.

Why does it matter?

People normally prepare their tea by pouring boiling water over their tea bag before adding sugar and milk to it. Although this might work for your grocery store tea bag, it might not be the ideal method for other delicate teas.

You will often read that the action of heating water introduces oxygen to it which highlights the unique flavours of your favorite tea.  On the other side, boiling it for too long - or re-boiling it - will tire the water out causing the tea to have a flat or dull taste and depriving it of its aromatic elements and texture. This hypothesis is now being questioned and it’s been found that the DO (dissolved oxygen) in drinking water doesn’t have a significant impact on its taste.

So why should you worry about following these instructions?

Using boiling water can create the risk of burning the tea leaves, which bring the sensation of bitterness in your mouth (caused by the release of too much tannins) or create a metallic taste (caused by the release of too much catechins). Two of the reasons why some people do not really care about tea.

Brewing tea is an art and certain rules need to be followed in order to make the perfect cup. But on the other end, keep in mind that tastes are subjectives and only YOU know what is the definition of a good or a bad tea.

From two adventurers turned into tea lovers,

Sarah and Chris

number e tea company


 
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