Tea Brewing Temperatures | The Sage by Heston Blumenthal Tea Maker

Do you drink a variety of teas? Black, green, white? Oolong? {whispers} Herbal or fruit? {stops whispering}

How do you make yours?

Do you boil the kettle, pour boiling water over the tea bag or leaves and stir impatiently to make the tea brew faster?

Do you brew directly in the mug?

AdagioTeas-3719 AdagioTeas-3725

I use loose leaf tea in a mug.

I don’t really miss a teapot as I rarely drink more than a mug of tea at a time (and never the same tea as Pete chooses to drink). Tea leaves go into a fine mesh strainer that can easily be lowered into my mug. I reuse the same leaves for at least another brew, often two or three, depending on the tea.

But I am guilty of using boiling water straight from the kettle.

And, as any fule kno, many teas are not at their best when brewed in boiling water.

Black tea (and herbal or fruit infusions, which I snootily don’t consider to be tea) are better suited to brewing at 100°C.

But oolong, green and white teas benefit from lower temperatures.

Flavour-providing amino acids and natural sugars dissolve into water at relatively low temperatures, releasing sweetness as well as a range of rich and complex flavours. Higher water temperatures extract more tannins resulting in bitterness that can easily overwhelm the key flavours of these types of teas.

Good quality tea should be treated with respect.

I really ought to know better, having benefited from the wonderful expertise of many a top tea master over the years. I have tasted exquisite teas from China to Japan, Taiwan to Korea, India to East Africa and enjoyed them at their optimum. And yet the best I’ve managed when making tea at home is to leave the kettle for a few minutes after boiling, to allow the temperature of the water to drop a little. Of course, I never have any idea of just how much it’s dropped.

It’s criminal really, given that I happily spend money on excellent tea. My current favourite is still Momo Cha Fine Teas’ High Mountain Oolong, but I’m also enjoying a delicious genmai-cha from The East India Company and an elderly but surprisingly well preserved oolong from Teanamu (my fault: I found it, forgotten, at the bottom of a box of tea).

For over a year, I’ve loosely been investigating smart kettles – the kind that allow you to heat the water to a number of different temperatures. A friend of mine has one and I’ve been coveting my own but I never get farther than an idle internet browse. I’ve not even made a shortlist, let alone picked a winner and placed an order.

sage by heston tea maker 2

Lucky day, then, when Sage by Heston Blumenthal asked me if I’d be interested in trying their Tea Maker, a specialist kettle with tea making function built in. The Tea Maker has a number of pre-sets and the option to use customised settings too. You can use it simply as a kettle, heating the water to your desired temperature. It also offers a brewing function: place tea leaves into the basket provided and the Tea Maker will lower the leaves into the heating water for a specific amount of time, dependent again on the type of tea. Lastly, the Tea Maker can keep the tea (or water) warm for up to an hour.

I probably won’t use the brewing function very often, as it’s recommended for a larger volume of water than I’d want to brew at a time. But the adjustable brewing temperature is an easy way for me to enjoy my favourite teas at their very best.

 

You can find more information about the Sage by Heston Blumenthal Tea Maker here, including a video of Heston explaining how it works. To hear Heston talk in more detail about tea, see this #TalkTeaWithHeston Youtube video.

Kavey Eats received a sample Tea Maker from Sage by Heston Blumenthal. All opinions expressed are my own.

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10 Comments to "Tea Brewing Temperatures | The Sage by Heston Blumenthal Tea Maker"

  1. Chaundra

    Ooh, I’ve been looking at smart kettles too. How well does the brewing function work? How easy is it to clean? We also use our kettle to heat water faster for cooking so having a kettle tin which the water has developed flavour probably isn’t ideal.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Hey Chaundra, I’ve not used it enough times to know whether a flavour residue builds up over time, so will have to come back to you on that. However, if you’re after temperature control kettle side only, Sage also do those, which don’t have the brewing function but do have multiple temperature and keep warm functions.

    Reply
  2. Momo Cha

    Great article Kavey…!

    I cannot stress enough how important it is to get the temperature right. We got ourselves a kettle with preset temperatures as well.

    Not a fan of brewing in the kettle solutions due to too little space for the leaves. But that’s a story for another blog.

    Just one correction, Oolong is usually brewed with boiling water or just off the boil. But there is no law that would prohibit one from experimenting. Different temperatures bring out very different flavours and experiencing a tea in all its facets is truly part of all the fun. 😉

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Hi Momo Cha
    I don’t know how much I will really use the brewing function anyway because I tend to only want to make a mug or two at a time. Pete prefers regular tea, so we don’t make the same one for both of us!

    I read that oolong is best at 90 to 100 C whereas green teas and white teas are best brewed from 70 to 85 C to bring out the best in them. So I guess it’s easier to make oolong without the temperature control, as you can, as you say, leave the boiled kettle a short time to let the temperature drop and it should be fine. But for green and white, it is easier to have a temperature control kettle to hit the right temperature…

    Reply
  3. broadfordbrewer

    Great post! As a general fan of brewing (beer), and a Yorkshireman who enjoys his tea, I’m ready to take my tea geekery to the next level. I think I’ll start simple, before paying out for the fancy kettle, but I’m thinking a fine mesh tea strainer will do just fine. Have you blogged anymore tea tips?

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Hey BB! I did link in this piece to one of the posts I did previously about my favourite tea finds, so it’s worth looking at that.

    I’ll also see if I can send you some great web resources for more information about the types of tea as well.

    I have discovered a good place to find the find mesh strainers is in oriental grocery stores, that’s where I’ve usually found mine. They’re deeper than a regular semispherical strainer, so they sit deeper in the water and the tea has space to move a bit as it floats, and the mesh is finer so less tea residue left in the water when lifted out.

    Reply
  4. Heavenly

    Ill be honest, I use hot water from a plain old kettle, no special temperatures. But I’m curious. It would be fascinating to try a side by side of tea brewed regular, and tea brewed according to the proper temperature. Does it really taste different? I wonder when you go for afternoon tea at these big institutions if they gauge the temperature of their water.
    *kisses* H

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes, there is difference in bitterness levels, more obvious in some teas than others!

    Reply
  5. kaveyeats

    Funnily enough, we’ve been talking about filters and whether to get a filter jug or something we can pour tap water through when filling the kettle…

    Reply

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