Preparing a cup of tea seems very difficult to mess up. As easy as it is to pour boiling water over your tea and call it good enough, there are extra steps that can be taken to make tea the way it was intended to be consumed. One of the most important of these steps is to make sure we are using the right temperature of water. Each tea requires a different temperature and amount of time steeped to get the intended flavor and effect.
While it appears that boiling water is, well… just heating up water, it is actually the most important part of the tea making process. Boiling water dissolves the minerals that build up, especially in hard water, which can have an effect on the taste. Studies show that boiling water also removes oxygen particles, which helps to bring out the flavor of the tea. The temperature of the water used to make tea is extremely important. When water is added to tea leaves, herbs, or flowers, the leaves infuse with water and release their flavor. The water temperature dictates how quickly the flavor and structure of the leaves are released, the hotter the water, the quicker the process. The way to make a perfect cup of tea is to balance these infusions by controlling the temperature of the water and the time spent steeping.
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You may be thinking… how the heck am I supposed to gauge the temperature of my water every time I make a cup of tea?! Well, there are many temperature-controlled kettles out there today that will boil to the exact temperature of the water. Or you can use a thermometer to measure the temperature of your water. But it is also possible to gauge temperature by just watching the water as it boils!
To gauge the temperature without any tools you can observe the water and estimate:
There will not be too much movement in the water. It will be hotter than your body temperature, but not too hot to touch. (Any hotter and the water will not be safe to touch)
The water will begin to move and dance, but is not quite simmering. You will see tiny bubbles at the bottom of your pot.
The water is now simmering, it is not fully boiling, but very close. Steam will begin coming from the water.
The boiling point for water. You will see full, uniform bubbles and steam coming from the water.
Rose flower tea requires water that is about 180-190°F. For the best infusion, steep the rose flower for 3-5 minutes, covered. Our Shangri-La Rose Flower Tisanes can be steeped up to 3 times, the second and third steeps requiring longer time to infuse.
Chrysanthemum flower tea calls for water that is 190-200°F and is best if steeped while covered for 3-5 minutes. Our Royal Chrysanthemum Tisanes can be steeped up to 3 times, the second and third steeps requiring longer time to infuse.
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Blue Lotus Tea
Blue Lotus flower tea calls for water that is 180-190°F and is best if steeped for 3-5 minutes, covered. Our Blue Lotus Tisanes can be steeped up to 3 times, the second and third steeps requiring longer time to infuse.
Jasmine flower tea calls for water that is 190-195°F and is best if steeped for 3-5 minutes, covered. Often Jasmine tea is mixed with green tea, so be mindful of what type of tea you are making. Our Jasmine flower tea is not mixed with anything, so feel free to follow the above instructions.
Butterfly Pea Tea
Butterfly Pea flower tea calls for water that is 190-195°F and is best if steeped for 3-5 minutes, covered. When finished steeping, remove the flowers and add some lemon for the full experience!
Sakura flower tea calls for water that is 190-200°F and is best if steeped for 3-5 minutes, covered. This is how to make Sweet Sakura tea. If you are making salted Sakura tea, soak the blossoms in warm water for 5 minutes to remove some of the salt. Then prepare it the same way you would sweet Sakura.
To make the best cup of white or green tea, boil water to about 170-185°F. Then steep for 2-3 minutes for full infusion. These teas, especially green tea, can get bitter if over-steeped, so be mindful of the time.
Oolong teas call for water that is between 180-190°F. It is generally best if steeped for 2-3 minutes. Oolong tea often has curled or twisted leaves, so feel free to steep for up to 5 minutes if you feel that’s what your tea needs.
Black tea requires water temperature to be about 208-212°F and is best if steeped for 3-4 minutes. If steeped for any longer, black tea has a reputation for becoming extremely bitter.
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Herbal teas and blends of herbs/flowers/spices are best with water that is 208-212°F and is steeped for 4+ minutes. This is especially true if you are using fresh herbs, the longer they are steeped, the more those herbs will infuse the tea.
When making a blend of teas, using various flowers, herbs, and true teas, you can estimate what would be the best amount of steeping time. If you’re ever unsure of what temperature to steep your tea, the rule of thumb is that the lighter and fresher the flavor of the tea, the lower temperature of water needed, and the stronger or richer the flavor, the higher temperature is needed. So keep this in mind when creating your own blends so as to not end up with bitter tea.
Here are a few more tips to help you to improve your tea making process:
- ‘Preheat’ your cup by putting boiling water in and pouring it out before putting your tea in. This helps to keep the water in the cup hot while the tea infuses.
- Empty your kettle before making a new cup of tea and only use fresh water to make tea. This is to avoid any latent minerals that may be left over.
- Completely submerge your tea underwater using our bamboo tongs. Rest the tongs on top of the flower in a glass cup to keep it at the bottom of the cup for a full infusion.
- Introduce breathing exercises, meditations, or affirmations to do when waiting for your tea to steep. Turn waiting for your cup of tea into a feel-good ritual.
While there is technically a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to make tea, it is truly all up to preference. You may prefer to steep your teas for longer in hotter water for a stronger flavor, shorter in cooler water for a lighter flavor, or even over-steeped if you enjoy the bitter taste! We recommend you try every tea at the temperature and steeping time it was intended for, and then experiment, and make your decision on how you like it from there!