We care a lot about the conditions in which we steep our tea. We’re careful about how much tea goes into the water, how long we steep, and how hot the water is. There’s good reason for that. Using too much tea, oversteeping, and using the wrong temperature can negatively affect the flavor of the tea. It’s easy to fix the first two issues. You can use a perfect teaspoon to measure out tea servings. You can set a timer to make sure you’re not oversteeping. Managing the temperature of the water can be a bit trickier, but it’s very important.
Using the wrong temperature in tea usually means you’ve gone too hot. A slightly lower temperature won’t do much damage to your brew. If anything, it’ll give bold teas, like black tea, a weaker flavor. (Keep in mind, you add room temperature or cold water when you cold brew and that tea turns out okay!) It’s when you use an inappropriately hot water that you get into trouble. Water that’s too hot can burn the leaves, creating a bitter or astringent taste. Using too hot of water is especially easy to do if you don’t own a water tower. And most tea drinkers don’t! Getting your water temperature right when you’re heating your water on the stove, in a coffee machine, or in a microwave (which we don’t recommend), can be a challenge. That’s why we have pointers to help you get it right!
Let It Sit
The easiest way to cool down too-hot water is to just let it be. If you let hot, hot water sit for a few minutes, your water will cool down to an appropriate temperature. If you have a kitchen thermometer, now’s the time to use it! If you consistently use the same method of heating your water, like running a pod-less Keurig, it’s worth it to time out your cooling process to see how long it takes to get to 175, 185, 195, and 206 – some of the most commonly used steeping temperatures.
Ice, Ice Baby
The trick we share with cafes and restaurants that use Art of Tea products is to use ice cubes. It feels obvious, right? If something’s too hot, add ice! But, like letting your water sit, you can turn throwing ice cubes in into a science. First, we recommend putting ice in your cup before you add water so the coldness is better distributed. Then, add ice cubes one by one. Now’s another good time for your kitchen thermometer. You may find that adding three ice cubes makes your cup suitable for green tea and that adding one makes it okay for an oolong. When using a larger receptacle, like a teapot, you’ll likely need to double the amount of ice cubes.
If you want to learn even more about steeping and why water temperature is important, you can check out our steeping guide. Feel free to print out the steeping chart and mark it up as you experiment with your water temperature.