In brewing green tea, the most important thing is water temperature. If it’s too high, the leaves are scalded and tastes bitter. If it’s too low, the flavor of the tea is not unlocked.
Most green teas have a recommended water temperature of 75-80 degrees Celsius, not exactly as straightforward as boiling point or melting point is it?
There are 3 main ways of getting the right water temperature for green tea (at least based on my equipment set):
1) Using a variable temperature kettle
This is by far the easiest way. Just select the water temperature and let the kettle do the work. There are many varieties available at a relatively inexpensive price but mostly found in China.
For this one I bought, it even comes with a spout (not pictured) that you can connect to a water canister and draw straight into your kettle. You can select any water temperature from 60 to boiling point, once it reaches the desired water temperature, it beeps and maintains there.
Simple as that.
2) Using a See-through Kettle
The traditional Chinese method tells us that there are different stages of water boiling, prawn eyes, crab eyes, fish eyes, strings of pearls and raging waves.
The desired water temperature of green tea of 70-80 degrees would be the prawn eyes stage (as shown in the photo) where you see distinct small bubbles rising to the top, in the shape of, well prawn eyes. If you have a see-through kettle, you can pour out your water immediately unto your green tea leaves.
3) Leaving Boiling Water to Cool
If you have none of the above, you can cool your boiled water in a separate glass.
In the photo above, by the time I took to pour boiling water, insert the thermometer and whip out my camera circa 30 secs had elapsed and the water temperature was 90.5 degrees Celsius- the cool glass and the act of pouring out boiling water cooled the boiling water somewhat.
Letting it cool in an air-conditioned room with the thermostat set to 24 degrees, it took about 7 minutes (including the aforementioned 30 secs) for it to cool below 80 degrees.
So if you do not have a water variable kettle or a see-through kettle, you can pour boiling water into a tall glass and let it cool for about 7 minutes before pouring it into your brewing utensil.
Of course there are ways to speed up the cooling process, such as pouring it from glass to glass which heightens evaporation thereby speeding up heat loss (at least according to my memory of past physics classes from more than a decade ago) but I would need an assistant to photograph me doing it and getting the timer and thermometer in place.
It may seem a little troublesome but considering the benefits and joy of green tea, it is worth it.