Thursday, August 29, 2013

Some Like it Hot

We brew (a.k.a. steep) our dry tea leaves in water to bring out flavor and create the drink we like.  If the water is too hot, the tea will taste bitter; if too cool, the tea flavor won't fully come out.  Yet, the ideal water temperature for one type of tea is not necessarily the same as for another type of tea. There are different water temperatures that work for different teas.  How do you know what temperature to use if there is no suggested temperature when you purchase?  As a general rule of thumb, green teas do well in 150 to 175°F (about 65 to 80°C), oolong teas do well in 195 to 205°F (90 to 95°C), black teas and tisanes do well in 212°F (100°C).  But how do you know what temperature your water is?

The traditional Chinese method is one answer.  For hundreds of years the Chinese have used a technique for estimating water temperature based on visual cues in the water such as air bubble size and water convection.  This technique was documented in the famous 1049 AD treatise on tea known as The Record of Tea (), which was written by Cai Xiang, a Song Dynasty politician, calligrapher, and tea connoisseur.  The visual cues for identifying water temperature are as follows:
虾眼 Shrimp Eyes - 155° to 176°F (70° to 80°C)
蟹眼 Crab Eyes - 176° to 185°F (80° to 85°C)
鱼眼 Fish Eyes - 185° to 194°F (85° to 90°C)
珍珠绳 Rope of Pearls - 195° to 205°F (90° to 95°C )

騰波鼓浪 Raging Torrent - 212°F (100°C)
These days, thermometers are easy to come by and getting the water to the right temperature is simple.  There are even electric tea kettles that will bring the water to the precise pre-determined temperature.[1]  Whether by electric kettle or simply Cai Xiang’s observations, the right temperature brings out the best characteristics of the tea.
[1] Breville, Fetco, Bonavita, et al.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment(s). We like hearing from you.

Sara and Andrea

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...