What Temperature Should You Brew Your Tea At?

Brewing the perfect cup of tea is no easy task. The temperature at which you brew your tea can make a huge difference in how it tastes, and while getting it right requires some trial and error, having a few tea brewing guidelines to start with can help extract maximum flavour out of your hot drink.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the ideal brewing temperature for different types of tea, so that you can create perfectly balanced drinks every time. From delicate blooming teas to robust pu-erh teas, here are all the tips and tricks you need to know about brewing at just the right temp.

The Perfect Temperature for Different Teas

Let’s dive straight in. For a quick reference, our tea temperature chart below provides the ideal brew temperatures and times for the most popular teas.

TeaTemperature (Celsius)TimeWith milk?
Green Tea75-80°C1-3 minutesWithout
Black Tea95-98°C2-4 minuteswith/without
English Breakfast Tea95-98°C2-4 minutesWith
Oolong Tea82-96°C3-4 minutesWithout
White Tea74-80°C1-3 minutesWithout
Chai Tea98°C5 minutesWith
Earl Grey Tea98°C3 minuteswith/without
Pu'erh Tea85-98°C3 minutesWith
Jasmine Tea85°C2 minutesWithout
Herbal Tea95-98°C5 minutesWithout
Rooibos Tea95-98°C2-3 minuteswith/without

How does temperature affect the tea you brew?

Ah, tea. We all know the warmth and comfort that comes with sipping a hot cup of your favourite brew. But have you ever stopped to think about what exactly is happening when you add hot water to your tea? Water temperature can play a major role in how successful your cup of tea turns out, so if you’re looking to get the very best flavour from every cup, it might be worth taking a closer look at why temperature matters for brewing the perfect cuppa...

Brewing tea at too high of a temperature can lead to a bitter, astringent taste, while brewing it at too low of a temperature can result in a weak cup of tea with no flavour. The ideal brewing temperatures for different types of tea vary based on their origin and type, and, as you can see from the table above, it's easy to get it wrong if you apply a one-size-fits-all approach.

Green tea

Green tea has long been a global staple due to its health benefits and gentle taste. It’s made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, a native of East Asia that has spread throughout the world in hot, humid climates. The leaves are withered, steamed, rolled and dried depending on how they will be processed later. When brewed, green tea has a light yellow-green colour and a slightly grassy or vegetal flavour that can be balanced with a teaspoon of honey or sugar.

Different types of green teas, such as matcha, sencha, and bancha, require specific brewing temperatures, although it is generally recommended to use water between 75-80°C and steep for 2 to 4 minutes to preserve the delicate nature of green teas.

Brewing green tea is pretty straightforward if you put in some effort. If you're using a standard kettle (without temperature control), you can simply let it boil and then wait a few minutes before you pour. Alternatively, you could adjust the settings on your boiling water tap or temperature-controlled kettle for more accuracy. Many tea connoisseurs recommend you use filtered water to preserve the flavour - fortunately our taps come with filters to remove impurities to make this easier.

Black tea

Black tea is the most popular type of tea in many parts of the world, and it's made from the same Camellia sinensis plant as green tea. However, it's processed differently; The leaves undergo a more extensive oxidation process which gives black tea its characteristic dark colour and robust flavour. Black tea (used in blends like Earl Grey, English Breakfast and Assam) tends to be stronger than green, white, herbal and oolong teas, so is it usually enjoyed with a dash of milk and/or sugar to balance the flavour.

Brewing black tea is quite straightforward. Heat your water to 95-98°C, and let it steep for 2-4 minutes depending on how strong you like it. This will give you a cup of bold, full-bodied tea that's sure to satisfy even the most ardent tea drinkers. Plus you can rest assured that the notion of 'too much tea' only applies if you're drinking over 5 cups a day, and even then the impact on health is negligible for most people - so sip away and enjoy.

Breakfast tea

Breakfast tea is a classic, robust blend of black teas from various estates and has been a staple of the British home and workplace since the days of the British Empire. It typically draws on teas from India, Sri Lanka, Kenya and China. It's best known for its strong, bold flavour and dark colour, designed to invigorate and energise in the morning, traditionally served with milk and sugar.

This tea is best brewed with near-boiling water, around 98°C. If you're using a standard kettle, bring it to a boil and then wait a minute before pouring so that it's had time to cool down for a moment.

Milk or sugar first?

The age-old debate of whether to add milk or sugar first to your tea has been a topic of conversation among tea aficionados for centuries. The truth is, it largely comes down to personal preference. Traditionalists often argue that adding milk first can prevent the boiling water from cracking the delicate china cups, although these days our cupware is more than capable of handling high temperatures. Adding milk first also allows the milk to be gently warmed by the tea, creating a smoother blend.

On the other hand, those who prefer adding sugar first say it allows the sugar to dissolve more evenly before the milk is added, which may be beneficial for achieving a perfectly sweet balance. Ultimately, neither method is right or wrong—it’s all about how you best enjoy your cup of tea.

Oolong tea

Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea that sits somewhere between green and black tea. Oolong tea also falls between green and black tea in terms of temperature and steeping duration, with a recommended water temperature between 82 and 96°C and a steeping time of 3-4 minutes. Because of this wide range, it's best to check the instructions provided (hopefully) by the specific brand you are buying from.

Like most other teas, it is made from the buds and leaves of Camellia sinensis and can range from light and floral to a dark and roasted taste that’s rich and complex in flavour. The way oolong is produced has a lot to do with the flavour profile as well. Oolong undergoes a partial fermentation process which helps bring out its many layers of taste, and is fermented for longer than green tea but not as long as black tea.

White tea

White tea is one of the most gentle yet flavourful varieties of tea. Green and white teas, known for their delicate leaves, require careful brewing to avoid bitterness and yield more flavour. White tea is made from the unopened buds and young leaves of Camellia sinensis and undergoes minimal processing compared to other teas. This means that white tea boasts higher levels of antioxidants and a wide range of other health benefits.

For brewing, you need to use hot but not boiling water to ensure maximum flavour and aroma retention - around 74-80°C is the ideal temperature range. Use a generous amount of white tea leaves per cup (2g -3g) and steep for 1-3 minutes until the desired strength has been reached. If the taste is too light for your liking, don’t increase steeping time as this can lead to bitterness; instead, simply add more tea leaves when making your next cup.

Chai tea

Chai tea is a spiced, full-flavoured black tea that originated in the Indian subcontinent. Chai usually contains ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and sometimes even star anise or fennel and is typically brewed in milk. To make a cup of chai tea, it is best to start with a high-quality blend containing a variety of spices - or follow a recipe online to make your own. To brew chai, add one heaped teaspoon of the blend per cup into a mug and add hot water; for a stronger cup, use more tea. Let the tea steep for 3-5 minutes before adding milk or cream and any additional sweeteners. Alternatively, prepare it on a stove/hob by adding the spices or blend to milk and allowing it to gradually heat up before straining.

Earl Grey

Earl Grey is a black tea that has citrus overtones thanks to its infusion with bergamot rind oil, creating a unique flavour that pairs well with afternoon tea. To brew Earl Grey, use one teaspoon of loose-leaf tea or one teabag per cup and pour 98°C water over it. Allow it to steep for 3-5 minutes, depending on your preferred strength, before straining the leaves or removing the bag. Some people also enjoy adding a squeeze of lemon to enhance the citrus notes in Earl Grey.

Pu'erh tea

Pu'erh tea, often referred to as "black tea" in parts of the Far East, originates from the Yunnan province in China. Named after the market town where it was first developed, Pu'erh tea undergoes a unique post-fermentation process. After the tea leaves are dried and rolled, they are subjected to microbial fermentation, which leads to a deepening of colour and a transformation in flavour. This process allows Pu'erh teas to age like fine wines, with some leaves maintaining their freshness for up to fifty years.

Pu'erh tea can be found in both loose-leaf form and compressed bricks, and it can be made from either green or black tea leaves. The tea is made from a larger leaf strain of Camellia sinensis known as Dayeh. These leaves are harvested from ancient trees, some of which are between 500 and 1000 years old, primarily grown in temperate regions.

When brewing Pu'erh tea, it is often steeped in a Yixing teapot or a gaiwan tea bowl and prepared gongfu style. High-quality Pu'erh leaves are rinsed quickly with hot water to 'awaken' them before being steeped at 85-98°C for 1-2 minutes initially and longer for subsequent infusions. This method means you can enjoy multiple steepings, each unveiling new layers of flavour.

Jasmine tea

Jasmine tea combines the fragrant aroma of common Jasmine flowers (Jasminum officinale) with the smooth flavour of green tea leaves. Traditionally, Jasmine tea is brewed using two steps: first, jasmine flowers are placed in a teapot with dry green tea leaves, allowing their scent to infuse into the leaves for several hours. 85°C water is poured over the leaves and it's then left to steep for 2-3 minutes, infusing them with a delicate floral flavour. However, if you want to skip to the good part you can pick up ready-made Jasmine teabags from the shop, just make sure you avoid any artificial flavourings.

Herbal tea

A 'herbal' tea is any tea that is made by infusing herbs, spices, fruits or other plant materials with hot water. These teas generally do not contain any leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant and so are technically not tea but are actually 'tisanes' or herbal infusions.

There are countless varieties of herbal tea available, each with its own unique health benefits and flavour profiles. Some popular examples include chamomile, peppermint, ginger, lemongrass, and rooibos. Herbal teas can be enjoyed hot or cold and brewing instructions will vary based on the specific ingredients used - it might be wise to check the instructions on the packet. Generally, though, most of these teas can be steeped in 98°C water for 5 minutes before being strained.

Rooibos tea

Rooibos tea, also known as red bush tea, is an herbal beverage made from the shrub Aspalathus linearis that is popular in South Africa. It has a light, earthy and sweet flavour with no caffeine and it's high in antioxidants. To make a cup of Rooibos tea, use one teaspoon of loose-leaf tea or a teabag per cup and steep in 98°C water for 2-3 minutes. Some people also enjoy adding milk, honey or lemon to enhance the flavour.

How to avoid bitter tea

To avoid bitter tea, it's essential to follow a few key guidelines during the brewing process. First and foremost, pay close attention to the water temperature; using boiling water can scorch delicate leaves, particularly with green and white teas, resulting in a bitter taste. Aim to use water that is within the recommended temperature range for each tea type.

Secondly, be mindful of the steeping time. Over-steeping tea leaves can extract tannins, which contribute to a bitter flavour. Follow the suggested steeping times carefully and adjust them based on your taste preference. Make sure to use an appropriate amount of tea leaves, as using too few can cause over-extraction, and too many can lead to an overly strong brew. Finally, quality matters; always opt for high-quality tea leaves from reputable sources to ensure the best possible flavour without bitterness.


In conclusion, knowing the optimal temperature for tea brewing is essential for unlocking the flavorful and aromatic potential of your tea. Using the correct temperature for different types of tea is key to extracting the most flavour and avoiding any unwanted bitterness, especially for delicate green and white teas. While some proponents suggest steeping times should be reduced with hotter water, there is a balance to be had between ensuring you get a hot, yet enjoyable brew.

Ultimately, it’s all down to personal preference. That said, keeping in mind the number of factors at play here, it’s always good practice to start with lower temperatures between 80-95°C. Then experiment to find the perfect temperature through trial and error. With this method, it shouldn’t take long to discover how best to produce your own perfectly brewed cup of tea.

Did you know you can change the temperature of our boiling water taps at the push of a button? Our touch-screen boiler allows you to set your tap to between 75 and 98°C. Find out more about how a boiling water tap works.

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