Can I cook water without a thermometer?


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Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby egross73 » Oct 1st, '10, 18:43

First off, I am new to tea. I just got a sample pack from Adagio, and I want to try it. The only problem is that I do not have a thermometer to judge the water temperature. Is there any way to get my water to the right temperature without a thermometer? (ex: Boil water, then let sit for x amount of time) Thanks!

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Re: Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby debunix » Oct 1st, '10, 19:15

The problem is getting it to be reliable. It's not simply a question of how long you let it sit, but how big is the vessel the water sits in? How thick are the walls? How cool is the room? Is there a breeze? Is it sitting on an insulating mat or a cold granite counter? Lid on, or lid off? Is the teapot full or half full?

You can figure out for your average conditions how long you have to wait to get the water temperature to make tea you prefer, but I can't tell you how long to wait.

Digital thermometers are inexpensive--$10 on amazon, about the same price in brick & mortar stores, and made the single most important improvement in my tea brewing, more than any other utensil or tool.
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Re: Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby Sydney » Oct 2nd, '10, 09:13

Most entry level loose leaf tea doesn't require strict precision, although I found the use of thermometers invaluable in learning the ropes and never use them for actual tea brewing any more.

$10-15 on the high end gets one a perfectly functional digital thermometer and is takes the mystery right out.

As debunix pointed out, there are simply too many variables in one's tea brewing environment for meaningfully accurate suggestion for waiting periods to be provided by others.
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Re: Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby debunix » Oct 2nd, '10, 10:42

Sydney wrote:Most entry level loose leaf tea doesn't require strict precision


Not strict precision, perhaps, but I hated green teas--unless they were massively dosed with jasmine--until I got a thermometer and started brewing them with the right temperature water. The thermometer opened up a whole range of previously inaccessible teas for me.
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Re: Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby iannon » Oct 2nd, '10, 11:49

debunix wrote:
Sydney wrote:Most entry level loose leaf tea doesn't require strict precision


Not strict precision, perhaps, but I hated green teas--unless they were massively dosed with jasmine--until I got a thermometer and started brewing them with the right temperature water. The thermometer opened up a whole range of previously inaccessible teas for me.


+1..for Japanese green tea's water temp control is quite important.. so I guess it depends on what kind of teas you got in your ampler as well to start out with? were they blacks? oolongs? those you could prob do without a thermo right now and plan on getting one later.
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Re: Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby Sydney » Oct 2nd, '10, 12:45

iannon wrote:
debunix wrote:
Sydney wrote:Most entry level loose leaf tea doesn't require strict precision


Not strict precision, perhaps, but I hated green teas--unless they were massively dosed with jasmine--until I got a thermometer and started brewing them with the right temperature water. The thermometer opened up a whole range of previously inaccessible teas for me.


+1..for Japanese green tea's water temp control is quite important.. so I guess it depends on what kind of teas you got in your ampler as well to start out with? were they blacks? oolongs? those you could prob do without a thermo right now and plan on getting one later.


I guess I left 'entry level' a little too open-ended. I consider sencha and the like to be low-intermediate.

But yes, temperature control and a few other bits of technique to make it possible to tease out elusive deliciousness out of some teas and tisanes.
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Re: Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby Proinsias » Oct 2nd, '10, 14:48

I've been fairly focused on brewing tea for several years now.

I used my first thermometer to measure water temp this summer for the shincha otti, I used it maybe three or four times and put it back in the cupboard.

To be honest most tea I drink is fine with water at boiling or just off the boil. For greens or whites leave it maybe five minutes after boiling and try, adjust from there.

Each to their own but personally I can't be bothered with scales and thermometers.
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Re: Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby entropyembrace » Oct 2nd, '10, 14:59

For brewing black tea and oolong you can just use boiling water

for green and white teas you can estimate easily by taking the kettle off when small bubbles start forming in the water and you can begin to see steam coming from the spout...that´s all I did for years.

Now I have a kettle that lets me set automatic shutoffs at different temperatures...the only difference is that I don´t need to pay as much attention to the water boiling...I still get the same results even from very temperature sensitive teas like sencha as I did when watching for the little bubbles to appear.
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Re: Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby RaynBeatle » Oct 2nd, '10, 17:15

entropyembrace wrote:For brewing black tea and oolong you can just use boiling water

for green and white teas you can estimate easily by taking the kettle off when small bubbles start forming in the water and you can begin to see steam coming from the spout...that´s all I did for years.

Now I have a kettle that lets me set automatic shutoffs at different temperatures...the only difference is that I don´t need to pay as much attention to the water boiling...I still get the same results even from very temperature sensitive teas like sencha as I did when watching for the little bubbles to appear.


That's exactly what I've done.
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Re: Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby Chip » Oct 2nd, '10, 17:26

Proinsias wrote:Each to their own but personally I can't be bothered with scales and thermometers.

I believe this does indeed play a large part in how one chooses to brew, it does for me.

So, give me a scale, thermometer, and timer ... all digital of course, and I am happy as a clam. I seriously quite enjoy brewing this way (and definitely the results), well for greens and whites anyway.

But as I always say ... brew how you like, like how you brew.
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Re: Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby Alex » Oct 3rd, '10, 03:15

Proinsias wrote:Each to their own but personally I can't be bothered with scales and thermometers.



I'm the same but....I do have a temp control kettle. I know exactly what my favourite teas look like in a gaiwan, and I have a perfect internal counter that's bang on to the second :D

I have tried to avoid things like timers on purpose though as I dont like them in the process of tea making.....for me. But its good we are all different, its what makes the world work.
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Re: Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby Chip » Oct 3rd, '10, 11:13

... BTW, on the subject of timers, I set mine for "count up," turn it on at the beginning of a green tea session and pay little attention to it ... plus no flippin' beepin'.
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Re: Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby iannon » Oct 3rd, '10, 22:22

Chip wrote:... BTW, on the subject of timers, I set mine for "count up," turn it on at the beginning of a green tea session and pay little attention to it ... plus no flippin' beepin'.

same here! plus its built into my thermo..it sticks to the side of my fridge so its always handy right where i make my tea. my thermo has a long wire so it stretches out a couple feet too.
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Re: Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby Alex » Oct 4th, '10, 03:12

That's a good idea chip. Because at the moment on my own I'm fine but when I make tea for a friend there's a few long silences while I stand there and count in my head. :D
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Re: Can I cook water without a thermometer?

Postby Chip » Oct 4th, '10, 09:37

iannon wrote:
Chip wrote:... BTW, on the subject of timers, I set mine for "count up," turn it on at the beginning of a green tea session and pay little attention to it ... plus no flippin' beepin'.

same here! plus its built into my thermo..it sticks to the side of my fridge so its always handy right where i make my tea. my thermo has a long wire so it stretches out a couple feet too.

Chained to the frdge? That would be OK if it was a TeaFridge!~ :mrgreen:

Zensuji wrote:That's a good idea chip. Because at the moment on my own I'm fine but when I make tea for a friend there's a few long silences while I stand there and count in my head. :D

Actually, the feature was not even listed on the package, I suspect many timers have this feature even if you don't know it. To see if yours has a count up feature, when cleared and on 0, press start ... :mrgreen:
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