Water temperature is a critical component to a good cup of tea. Brew tea too hot and you can burn it, leaving it tasting bitter. Brew tea too cold, and you don’t get any flavor. So playing with water temperature can get you very different cups of tea all from the same tea leaf. This holds true not just for green and oolongs, but for black teas as well. Here are 3 of our favorite black teas to brew at water temperatures well below a boil. We are still steeping the teas for 5 minutes, we are just using water at 190° F.
- Darjeeling – This champagne of teas is traditionally brewed at a boil. Those complex fruity, floral and honey flavors that are common for this tea remain at colder temperatures. However, those floral notes become stronger and the astringent (drying) finish becomes much softer. The difference is most dramatic in a 1st flush, but is still noticeable in a 2nd Flush Darjeeling.
- Yunnan Sunrise – This partially oxidized black tea from China is malty at a boil. Dropping the water temperature, even as far as 175° F, brings forward more honey and floral aromas.
- Ceylon – Sri Lankan tea is often overlooked as an everyday tea. It is woody in flavor and has an astringent finish. However, this beautifully complex black tea becomes herbal in flavor at lower temperatures.
So play with your water temperatures and enjoy a whole new cup of tea. Share your experiences with us, we would love to hear about them.
Note: To drop water temperatures, pour that boiling water into a cold ceramic mug and wait. Water will lose approximately 5 degrees per minute, so 3 minutes after pouring you at a great temperature for what we recommended above.