There are two major camps in the tea-making world: one loves tea made with boiling water, and another says boiling water is a sacrilege. Tea connoisseurs from the second camp carefully watch (or listen) to tea kettles, waiting for the perfect time to cut the flame off. It's true; every tea type has the ideal temperature
that allows the tea leaves to open up to us in all their beauty. The perfect aroma, perfect taste – balanced brew. It is crucial to learn this.
However, during the Tang Dynasty (618 ~ 907), tea brewing was very different from what we are used to today. People boiled tea!
It wasn't until the Song Dynasty (960–1279) that farmers started to categorize tea types and set the perfect temperature for each kind of tea.
Nowadays, there are still some tea types that we can boil. Better yet, they are more nutritious and tasty when boiled.
Boiling tea can improve the taste of tea and raise its antioxidant content. Tea boiled for at least 5 minutes has a higher antioxidants amount.
Which Tea Is Suitable For Boiling?
White Tea has four categories: Bai Hao Yin Zhen, Bai Mu Dan, Gong Mei, and Shou Mei. The first two are delicate teas made primarily of fresh tea buds and can only bear low water temperatures (about 185℉ ). The latter, however, can be boiled.
Shou Mei is a white tea that is usually aged. It contains stems and has a different texture and flavor than other white teas. The stems are rich in plant sugar and healthy fibers. White tea can be boiled both ways — either after several Gong Fu infusions or right away.
After boiling white tea, you will notice a vibrant yet mellow taste with a pleasant floral fragrance. The added nutrients make the boiling method quite popular across China with older generations. Boiled white tea often serves as a remedy for colds or viruses.
While Light Oolongs are not suitable for boiling, Dark Oolongs develop excellent traits when boiled! However, we don't recommend boiling these teas right away. When enjoying gong fu style tea, you can try simmering the tea leaves for a few minutes after about five brews or so. It will help extract additional nutrients and taste that otherwise wouldn't get extracted after many brews. It's also a great way not to waste tea leaves after you have finished enjoying your tea, but the tea still has some brews to go! Read more.
Pu-erh falls into two categories: Raw Pu-erh and Ripe Pu-erh. We do not recommend boiling raw pu-erh, as it is a fairly strong tea. Boiling raw pu-erh (or steeping it longer than usual) may hurt the stomach and leave people overly energized.
Ripe pu-erh, on the other hand, is delicious when boiled, especially the longer it has been aged. After boiling, the tea will be sweet and mellow; the subtleties of the aroma will surface.
Chen Pi Pu-erh, in particular, has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it is usually boiled. Since the tea leaves are packed and congested from storage, boiling the tea will help thoroughly release all the nutrients and tea oils.
Hei cha is one of the tea types which has always benefited from boiling. Boiling this tea will help rid it of strong and unwanted fermentation notes while extracting all the tea leaves' nutrients and natural sweetness.
How To Boil Tea: Tips
For non-brewed tea:
- Prepare 10-15g of tea per 1 liter of water.
- Rinse the tea leaves using cold water. Let the leaves soak in cold water while heating the kettle.
- Once you hear the water crackling and see tiny bubbles starting to appear, swirl the water in the kettle and decant the cold water with tea into the whirlpool. The whirlpool will help create an even brew.
- Turn off the fire once the water reaches boiling point.
- Separate the brew from the leaves (one way is to decant the tea into an empty vessel) to prevent over-brewing.
- Alternatively, you can quickly pour tea into your teacup, using a strainer to catch the tea leaves and continue brewing the rest of the leaves, adding water along the way and gradually increasing the brewing time.
For tea that has already been brewed:
- Place the tea leaves in warm water.
- Once you hear water crackling and tiny bubbles starting to appear at the bottom of the teapot, swirl the water in the pot and place the tea into the whirlpool. You can also add a bit of cold water.
- Bring the water to a boil, lower the fire and simmer for 3-5 minutes; the more fermented, aged, and robust the tea, the longer you can simmer it (up to 10-15 minutes).
Clay tea kettles suitable for fire are the best vessels for boiling tea. Remember not to use them on electric stoves; otherwise, they can crack.