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Why Temperature Matters: The Top 5 Reasons to Steep Loose-Leaf Tea at the Right Heat

Steeping loose-leaf tea at the appropriate temperature is crucial for achieving the best flavor and preserving the quality of the tea leaves. In fact, the temperature and the amount of time you steep your leaves can make a difference between a bland or bitter, flat or flavorful, cup of tea.

In this article, I will share 5 reasons why temperature matters, a chart for steeping times and temps per tea family for quick reference, and the tea maker that I use to make sure my tea is steeped at the right temperature and for the right amount of time.


Reason #1: Preserves Delicate Flavors: Different types of tea have unique flavor profiles that are brought out best at specific temperatures. For example, green tea is delicate and can become bitter if steeped in water that is too hot. Steeping green tea at a lower temperature (usually around 175°F or 80°C) helps preserve its nuanced flavors and aromas.

Reason #2: Avoids Bitterness: Overheating water can extract excessive tannins and other compounds from tea leaves, resulting in a bitter taste. By using the appropriate temperature, you can control the extraction process and ensure a smoother, more balanced flavor profile.

Reason #3: Enhances Aroma: Aromatic compounds in tea are volatile and can be lost if exposed to excessively high temperatures. Steeping tea at the right temperature helps retain these compounds, enhancing the overall aroma and making the tea more enjoyable.

Reason #4: Protects Tea Leaves: Tea leaves are delicate and can be damaged by boiling water or water that is too hot. Steeping tea at the appropriate temperature helps prevent the leaves from being scorched or overcooked, preserving their integrity and allowing for multiple infusions.

Reason #5: Caffeine Control: Steeping tea at lower temperatures can also affect the extraction of caffeine. For those looking to reduce caffeine intake, steeping at lower temperatures and for shorter durations can help achieve a milder brew.

It can be hard remembering the temps and times for each tea family. Over time, you may begin to memorize them, but for now, you can use the quick cheat chart below for reference:




3-4 minutes | 160°F-180°F


1-2 minutes | 160°F-180°F


2-3 minutes | 160°F-175°F


2-5 minutes | 180°F-200°F


3-5 minutes | 190°F-212°F


2-5 minutes | 200°F-212°F

There are different tools that you can use to ensure that you are able to get the right temperature and steeping time for your perfect cup of tea. You could use a liquid thermometer or a tea kettle with a built-in thermometer. I like to use the Breville Tea Maker to heat my water to the correct temperature then I pour the water over my leaves in the Hario Maru Tea Pot with Infuser and allow my tea to steep. I keep track of the time and give or take depending on how I want the steep to turn out.

Overall, steeping loose-leaf tea at the appropriate temperature is about respecting the nuances of the tea leaves and allowing them to express their full potential in terms of flavor, aroma, and texture. It enhances the tea-drinking experience and ensures that you get the most out of your tea leaves.


What is your favorite tea + temp + time combo?

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