Green tea has long been a staple of Eastern Medical traditions heralded for its many health benefits. Now it is receiving its due in the western world. If you want to try green tea but have been unsure how to properly prepare it, you are in the right place.
One of the most commonly asked questions about brewing green tea is whether you can boil green tea leaves. This article will answer that question and explain how to get the most out of your tea drinking experience.
Can You Boil Green Tea Leaves?
You can boil green tea leaves but are not likely to enjoy the results.
Perhaps you have tried green tea but found it was overly bitter or too grassy to fit your taste. The problem may not have been the tea leaves. Making green tea is not the same as making the herbal or black tea that most Americans are used to.
Brewing green teas require a completely different process that varies depending on the type of green teas used and whether you are using Chinese green teas or Japanese green teas. This isn’t to say that brewing green tea is more complicated, but it does require a bit of care.
When you boil green teas, you release a much higher percentage of the tannins in the tea, which gives it a bitter taste. At the same time, you destroy or boil away many of the Amino acids that make green tea sweet and flavorful.
There is one exception to this rule. A Mongolian tea drink is made by boiling loose leaf green tea, allowing it to cool, and then adding milk and boiling the tea once again. This Mongolian tea is served with salt added instead of sugar or citrus.
Why Should You Not Boil Green Tea?
The first reason you shouldn’t boil green tea is that it will cause it to have a bitter or astringent taste that stays on the tongue for quite a while. The next issue that boiling green tea produces is that it breaks down or evaporates many of the Amino acids and catechin flavonoids that make green tea such a healthy beverage.
If you want a healthy and flavorful cup of tea, you should not boil your tea leaves nor use boiling water to brew green tea. Instead, you should aim for a water temperature between 155 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit and steep it according to the supplier’s recommendations.
Steeping time can vary according to the particular green tea you are using and how it is produced. As a general rule, Chinese green teas will deliver their best flavor towards the higher end of the temperature range and with slightly longer brewing times (3-4 minutes) than Japanese green teas.
Japanese green teas are from different cultivars of the Camellia Sinensis plant and are processed differently. They typically come out best when brewed at lower temperatures and steeped for only 1-2 minutes.
Does Boiling Water Destroy Green Tea?
Boiling water does not actually destroy green tea. However, it breaks down the amino acids and catechin flavonoids that provide many of green tea’s health benefits.
It could be said that steaming water destroys the flavor of the tea as it causes it to be bitter, unpleasant to drink, and can cause stomach upset.
How to Properly “Boil” or Steep Green Tea
First things first. Unless you are making Mongolian tea, you should never boil green tea. Instead, it should always be steeped or brewed, and even then, boiling water should not be used.
That being said, making the perfect cup of tea is a blending of art and science. The tea masters of Asia have spent hundreds of years perfecting the art of creating the most flavorful cup of tea and scientist have spent decades trying to determine how to withdraw the highest concentration of nutrients from the plant.
There are many different types of green tea produced from a variety of cultivars in varying soil and climatic conditions and processed in different ways. All of these factors can affect how the tea leaves should be brewed.
Rest easy, though we will break down how to achieve the best cup of tea possible as specifically as we can.
Three things to keep in mind is that distilled water or water that has been previously boiled should not be used. Either of these will cause your tea to have a flat taste. It would be best if you also remembered to bring your water up to temperature slowly and remove it from the heat before it reaches the boiling point. Once the water reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius), it begins to oxygenate, which diminishes the flavor of your tea.
By the same token, you should avoid brewing your tea for too long as this yields nearly the same issues as using water that is too hot.
The best water temperature and steeping period for brewing the most often found tea leaves are:
176-degrees Fahrenheit for 30 seconds or 1-2 minutes at 158 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chinese pan-fired teas:
176-degrees Fahrenheit for 2 minutes.
Indian and Sri Lankan green tea:
2 minutes at 167 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roasted green tea:
Green teas like Hojicha that have been fire-roasted contain lower concentrations of caffeine, catechins, and amino acids. They can stand a steeping time of 1 to 3 minutes at 176 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the level of roasting.
Gyokuro or Shaded Tea is closer to white tea in nature than other green teas. It is commonly steeped at 104, 122, or 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 1-2 minutes.
Green tea mixed with jasmine petals can vary greatly in strength. Their normal brewing time is 1-3 minutes at 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
Flavored green tea:
There are many different types of green tea on the market today. While this makes it difficult to give any firm advice, most people brew flavored green tea as they would common black tea.
The Brewing Process
Now that we have our brewing times and water temperature established, let’s get into some tips to make your next cup of green tea as delightful as possible.
Use Loose Leaf Tea Leaves
Many people shy away from using loose leaf tea leaves because they have been conditioned in our society to the use of tea bags or worry about how to deal with the leaves, but if you want to taste the best flavors that your tea leaves have to offer, loose leaf green tea is the only way to go.
The tea found in pre-prepared tea bags is of an inferior grade in most cases. It is the dusting or leavings from the screening of the tea leaves. Being smaller, they lose the essential oils that give the tea its flavor much quicker than whole leaf teas.
Use a Special Teapot
A teapot that is going to be used for green tea should not be used for anything else. It should be porcelain or glazed ceramic or glass.
Teapots actually become seasoned over time, and the residue from other types of tea will influence the taste of your tea.
Preheat Your Tea Pot
Since green tea is brewed at a lower temperature than black tea or other tea types, it is important to preheat your teapot and cups, so they don’t cool your tea below the ideal temperature for drinking.
This can be done by placing them in an oven set on low or by boring them full of boiling water shortly before brewing tea leaves.
Brewing Green Teas
- The first step to brewing the perfect cup of green tea is to place a proper amount of tea leaves into your teapot. Teas can vary greatly, but as a rule of thumb, you should use 2-3 grams of tea per cup of water. This is roughly the equivalent of a teaspoon slightly rounded. Weight rather than volume is the preferred method of measuring tea leaves as different types of tea leaves are processed differently, and some are denser while others are fluffier.
- Place your water over medium-high heat and bring it up to the desired temperature. Filtered water or natural spring water is best, but regardless of the water you use, it should be slightly sweet when tasted on its own. Distilled water or water that has been previously boiled should be avoided as it will cause your tea to have a flat taste.
- Pour water heated to proper temperature gently into your pot and allow the tea to be steep according to the manufacturer’s guidelines or our recommendations above.
- Serve your tea promptly and drink while hot. Green tea cools very quickly, and you will lose much of the flavor experience by allowing it to over-cool. If you dislike having tea leaves in your cup, we recommend using a fine-mesh strainer as you pour each cup. Paper filters, like coffee filters, should be avoided as they will taint the taste of the tea. The best flavor, though, is experienced unfiltered.
Green tea is a wonderful way to relax after a hard day or simply as a nice addition to a fine meal. As a bonus, it also has many health benefits to offer.
Brewing tea is not a difficult task as long as you follow the few guidelines laid out in this article. The main thing to remember is never let boiling water come in contact with your tea. Water temperature and steeping time are the two most important factors affecting the taste of your tea.