When I talk to folk about the best temperatures for particular tea types, I’m sometimes faced with a blank expression (except from coffee enthusiasts who are familiar with the perfect temperature = good coffee concept), and so during my tea-tastings, I would advise my tea friends to pop the kettle on, watch the water gauge and think of the following quote from Lu Yu, a tea scholar who wrote Cha Ching – ‘The Classic of Tea’ in 780 AD.
When the water boils for the first time,
something akin to the eyes of a fish appear on the surface
and a faint hissing sound can be heard.
Then the gurgling brook develops
with a string of pearls round the edge.
This is the second boiling.
Then the turbulent waves appear: this is the third boiling.
The first boiling (eyes of a fish) is around 70-85C (158-185F) and is perfect for green or white teas.
The second boiling or string of pearls (90C or 194F ) is perfect for any oolongs.
The third boiling (roaring waves) is suitable for black teas (100C 0r 212F).
Or you may want to buy the best kettles in the world which does all the thinking for you! I came across these two wonderful kettles last week, which got me terribly excited! (See my flikr pictures on the right).
After all the excitement of seeing them, I realised that I didn’t want a kettle to do the thinking for me. Making tea is not an exact science and part of the fun is getting the water to the right temperature and the right steeping time to make the tea how one wants it. That said, it is comforting to know that if I did change my mind, I have a choice of kettles to choose from.