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Facts and fiction about food and cooking, by Peter Aitken
You can’t make a good cup of tea in the microwave
April 4, 2011Posted by on
Some people claim that you cannot make really good tea by boiling your cup of water in the microwave and then putting in the tea bag. The problem is that only the top layer of water is boiling – water in the lower part of the cup is not hot enough yet and so the tea will not infuse properly. Perhaps—but the problem is easily solved by letting the water boil for 5-10 seconds before removing it from the microwave and adding the tea bag. This ensures complete mixing and heating of the water and your tea will be just fine.
Note, however, that some tea experts claim that you do not want to use actively boiling water (212o) because it damages the flavor of the tea. I was informed of this by a reader named Erik Lynn – for black tea you want 195 degrees, for green tea 175 degrees, and for herbal tea 205-210 degrees. To be honest, I really can’t tell the difference, but apparently some people can.
However, be aware of a potential safety issue. Water can get superheated in the microwave. In other words, its temperature goes above the boiling point but it does not actually boil. This is usually the result of using a container with a very smooth surface that lacks the minute rough spots that trigger boiling. When you then pop your tea bag into the water it boils all at once and can leap out and burn you. Of course if you wait for the water to boil in the MW, as I have advised, this will not be a problem, but you should be aware of it.
I’ve had a good cup of green tea from a bag but there are so many varieties of bagged and loose green tea that it’s hard to try them all.