The Reason You Should Never Boil Water Before Brewing Green Tea

Ever taken a sip of green tea and noticed it has a bitterer, less grassy aftertaste? You may even notice a burnt aroma. That is likely due to using boiling water when preparing your cuppa. Many of us put our stovetop kettle on high and just wait for the thunderous rumble of boiling water or the chipper squeal of a whistling spout to tell us when the water is ready. And that is a big tea mistake

While the common rule for making a properly extracted tea is to use cold water that's brought up to a rolling boil, that just isn't the case when it comes to green tea. The full boil should be reserved for black or herbal teas. When it comes to green and white teas, a true boil will cook the dried leaves, rather than allow them to open up and release their flavor. Similar to the burned charcoal on a piece of meat, overcooked green tea will give a bitter, stale taste. 

What temperature should you aim for?

Green tea requires a less hot water temperature than black or herbal teas, anywhere between 140 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Rishi. A full, rolling boil occurs at 212º Fahrenheit, so green tea requires significantly cooler water. But if you're just using a stovetop kettle, this can be difficult to gauge. You can always let the water come to a boil and then wait several minutes for it to cool, but this can be time-consuming. You can also occasionally dip a thermometer into the water, but this is also a fussy solution.

The best way to guarantee you get your water to the right temperature every time is to invest in an electric kettle that allows temperature control. Some kettles allow you to dial them to the exact degree you desire, while others provide preset buttons. There are even kettles that have preset buttons for different types of tea and coffee, so all you have to do is select the tea variety you're about to enjoy, and the kettle will take care of the rest. While water temperature may seem like no big thing, it is truly one of the greatest differences between a substandard and an excellent cup of green tea.