Do You Need to Boil Water for Tea?

  • Last edited: October 16, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Brewing a nice cup of tea is actually a science. Different types of tea require different water temperatures and this article will help you make your perfect brew. For example, black teas like Ceylon or Assam are best brewed in boiling water while green and white teas work better with cooler water around 160-190 Fahrenheit (or 70°-90° Celcius).

You don’t actually need boiling water for all types of tea. A general rule is that the darker the tea leaves are, the hotter the water needs to be. Some teas work best with cooler water, while others need boiling hot water.

Different Brewing Temperatures for Tea

Tea is a popular drink in many cultures. It is enjoyed as a beverage but also used medicinally and ceremonially. Tea leaves are used to produce a brown-colored liquid that is often served hot or cold with milk or lemon.

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The best temperature for brewed tea varies depending on the type of tea you are brewing. For example, green tea should be brewed at lower temperatures than black tea because it is more delicate and can be easily over-brewed.

Water Temperature for Green Tea

Green tea is usually brewed at a temperature of around 175 degrees Fahrenheit (or 70-80°C). The hotter the water temperature, the more antioxidants get released.

Do You Need Boiling Water for Tea Tea Adventures green tea
Green tea is usually better when using slightly cooler water of around 70-80°C.

Antioxidants are healthy, but they have a bitter taste. Brewing green tea at a lower temperature releases fewer antioxidants, and the resulting tea has a milder flavor.

Water Temperature for Oolong Tea

Oolong tea is a type of tea that is partially oxidized. Oolong teas are usually brewed at a temperature of 180-200 Fahrenheit (or 80-90 degrees Celsius).

Heavily roasted oolong teas can be brewed with boiling hot water to get the best possible experience. Using hotter water allows for the optimal extraction of flavor and aromatic compounds.

Water Temperature for White Tea

Water temperature for white tea is a very specific topic that requires an in-depth analysis. White tea is one of the most delicate types of tea as it’s minimally processed.

This minimal processing means that the tea leaves are picked before they’re fully open and usually have small white hairs on them. The best brewing temperatures for white tea range from 160 to 190 Fahrenheit (or 60°C to 90°C).

Do You Need Boiling Water for Tea Tea Adventures white tea
White tea is one of the most delicate types of tea as it’s minimally processed.

It depends on the specific tea and the length of the infusions. Shorter infusions usually need a higher temperature while longer infusions offer the best experience with lower temperatures.

Water Temperature for Black Tea

Black tea is a misunderstood type of tea because, in the West, people use the name black tea to talk about red tea. The tea that we call black tea in the west is called red tea in Asia and is not what we mean in this paragraph.

Dark or black tea is a post-fermented type of tea that went through fermentation during or after production.

When it comes to black tea, the water temperature should be 212 Fahrenheit (or 100°C). This means that in order to get the best possible experience with black/dark tea, you need boiling hot water.

Water Temperature for Red Tea

When people talk about red tea in Asia, they are talking about the tea that we in the west refer to as black tea. However, the real name for this kind of tea is red tea as it’s named after the color of the tea liquor.

Red tea is a tea that is fully oxidized, but not fermented. Due to the oxidation, red tea is best brewed with boiling hot water. Using boiling water allows for the optimal extraction of flavor and aroma compounds.

Water Temperature for Puerh Tea

There are different types of puerh tea: raw puerh, ripe puerh, and aged puerh tea. Ripe puerh and aged raw puerh tea are examples of dark/black tea, while young raw puerh is similar to green tea.

2001 Yichang Raw Yiwu Yee on Tea Tea Adventures
Aged raw puerh works best if you use boiling hot water.

Aged raw and ripe puerh are best brewed with boiling hot water. Young raw puerh works best with slightly cooler water of around 190-200 Fahrenheit (90°C).

Conclusion

There is more to water temperature than you might think at first. You don’t always need boiling water to brew a cup of tea; it depends on the tea you’re brewing.

A general rule of thumb is that the darker the tea, the hotter the water needs to be. This is not always the case, but it’s a good start and will get you quite far.