Friday, January 28, 2011

National Hot Tea Month is almost at an end, but that doesn't mean you should stop learning, and trying out new teas!  I decided to try a new Oolong tea this morning, and fell smack into a very important lesson that everyone should know. It may seem obvious, but water temperature is key!!  If you are steeping your tea with water that is not at the proper temperature, you are disrespecting your leaves.  Each type of tea likes a certain temperature, and will not produce good results without it.

Here is a general idea of what temperature you need, depending on the type of tea (this information is taken from

White Tea:  165F
Green Tea: 170-185F
Oolong Tea: 180-190F
Black Tea: Rolling Boil
Pu-erh Tea: Rolling Boil

If you don't have time to use a thermometer (I sure don't), then you can just let the water sit for a few seconds before steeping for Oolong, Green, and White teas. Or if you are able to watch your water boil, you can use this Chinese method, (taken from

The Chinese use the following ranking for water temperatures based on the size and appearance of the bubbles in the water (it works pretty well too):

Shrimp eyes 158°F - 176°F
Crab eyes 176°F - 185°F
Fish eyes 185°F - 194°F
Rope of Pearls 194°F - 203°F
Raging torrent 203°F - 212°F
Old man water 212°F (over-boiled, ‘flat’ water)

As I discovered today, the wrong temperature can change the taste of your tea.  I was steeping a lovely Formosa Oolong from Joy's Teaspoon that tasted nice, but many nuances of the tea were missing.  I realized  it was because I used water from our office water cooler, and it was just not hot enough.  I'm going to try this tea again when I get home, and see if the results are different.  Stay tuned for a review!

The brewing length is essential as well.  The exact brewing time depends on the variety of tea you are using.  But this is a general guide:

White Tea:  4-8 Minutes
Green Tea: 2-3 Minutes
Oolong Tea: 1-8 Minutes
Black Tea: 3-5 Minutes
Pu-erh Tea: start off around
1-30  seconds, then work up to
3-5 minutes for repeat steeps

Of course, please pay attention to your own personal preferences.  For example, if you like a super strong tea, you could try a longer steep, and see how it tastes.  Experiment, and see what works best for you!


  1. I think these figures are a good starting point, but I think that a bigger thing to emphasize is the personal preferences.

    I started writing a comment but then it started to get long and I realized that I wanted to turn it into a blog post, so thank you for inspiring my blog post...what I wanted to say was more on brewing temperature....

  2. Just found your blog, and am happily following it.

    Especially enjoyed this post. Am looking forward to what comes next.