I believe that any green tea worth its salt should be able to take boiling water.
If it can’t, then it’s objectively not a great tea.
I’m a little nervous sending this out because to be fair, the more common problem is that people use water that’s too hot for their green tea.
But that’s because most green teas on the market are just not that well made. That’s OK. Most green teas require a little babying.
But it’s also a misconception that green tea, as a category, inherently requires cooler water. In my experience, a truly good green tea should be able to take boiling temperatures just as well as any oolong or black tea, often even better.
Basically, boiling water exposes processing flaws in tea. That’s why we often use boiling water to brew teas for formal evaluation in the tea industry. The better the tea, the better it performs under the most extreme brewing conditions.
No flaws = no reason to become bitter or harsh.
The problem is, green tea is pretty tricky to process correctly. It requires balancing super delicate leaf material with a scorching hot de-enzyme step (“kill-green”), and that opens up a lot of room for error during the teamaking process.
So, I’d say most green teas on the market are objectively like a C+ or B- at best. (And that’s OK.)
If you’re starting to invest in some seriously green teas though — like first harvest Dragonwell and single cultivar matcha — you’re dealing with the big leagues. Grown up, adult green teas that don’t need babying.
At this level of quality (often around $0.50/gram or more), these green teas should be so well made that they have little to no processing flaws.
They should downright shine in boiling water. Maximum extraction for maximum flavor, aroma, and complexity.
Give it a try. With your usual ratio of leaves to water, brew your best green tea with boiling water and a shorter steep, around 45 seconds to start.
If it’s as good as the label says it is, it should brew up with tons of flavor, textural structure, and complexity — and minimal bitterness.
On the flipside, if this treatment makes your super fancy Dragonwell taste horrible, it may not be as spectacular as advertised or priced…