Tea brewing temperatures

Spiral Coasters

Spiral Coasters

Tea brewing temperatures


Nothing to do with sewing?  Well not really, there is nothing better than a good cup of tea to rest the creative mind.

So ditch the teabag and make a proper cuppa


But before you get started, there’s some stuff you need to know. For starters, did you know that to get the optimum flavor from your chosen tea leaves, you need to brew them at the right temperature and for the right amount of time? The temperature and timing will also vary, depending on the type of tea.

Unless you’re using a tea bag rather than loose leaf tea, you’ll never achieve a great cup of tea if you boil the water to 100 degrees. This is because the amino acids (which produce the more delicate flavors of specialty tea) dissolve at lower temperatures than tannin. Tannin is found in many plants which end up in our food and drink but tea and wine are probably the main ones you consume day to day. To us, tannin can taste pleasant but in plants, tannin exists to make them inedible to other creatures. Tannin dissolves at higher temperatures so if you over-boil your favourite tea, the dissolved tannin may give it a more bitter taste than you’d like.


Black tea
Black tea is fermented and oxidised more than other teas. With these bolder flavours, it’s OK to use hotter water. As a rough guide, use water at 90°C – 100°C and let it rest for a minute before pouring it over your tea. Steep for one to five minutes.

Oolong tea
Oolong tea falls somewhere between green and black tea on the oxidization scale. It should be prepared with water at about 90°C – 100°C. Steep your oolong tea for thirty seconds to one minute, depending on personal taste.

Green tea
Green tea is less processed than black or oolong tea. It should be prepared at lower temperatures to prevent it becoming bitter – ideally, your water should be at 70°C – 80°C. You should steep your green tea for one to two minutes.

White tea
White tea is the least processed variety and has the most refined and delicate flavour. As a result, it should be prepared at 70°C – 80°C. Steep your white tea for between one to three minutes, depending on personal taste.

Herbal tea
Herbal teas come in so many varieties that it’s hard to make a hard-and-fast rule as to how hot the water should be. Some stronger flavours, such as ginger, need a good boil to bring the flavours out. Other, more delicate flavours such as chamomile, benefit from lower temperatures. Our best recommendation for herbal teas is to experiment to find your preference. Herbal teas generally need steeping for longer – generally between three and eight minutes.

More tips for the perfect cup of tea

Use fresh filtered water if the tap water in your area has a chlorinated taste. However, avoid distilled water – without minerals in the water, your tea will taste flat and dull.

  1. If you are boiling the water for your tea, never boil it twice, as this reduces the oxygen content of the water and therefore the flavor of the tea. How you store your tea is important. Buy tea in vacuum-sealed foil packs. Once opened, store in a tin in a cool, dry place. Don’t store in plastic as light can filter in; and don’t store near the stove as the heat will affect the flavor. However you brew your tea, make sure you give the tea leaves room to expand and release their flavor. Tea sommeliers recommend putting fewer leaves in a tea ball, if you’re using one. This is one reason why loose leaf tea is often considered superior to tea bags.