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Blog 172: Black Tea Cannot Be Made with Boiling Temperature Water!?

Once in a while, we come across this theory: black tea cannot be infused with boiling temperature water because leaves can get burned and release an unpleasant taste. In some online posts, some tea lovers also argue that boiling water makes their black tea too “sour”.

At first, this sounds legit. After all, tea leaves are rather fragile and delicate. But when it comes to good quality black tea, this theory is completely wrong. Today, we’ll explain why black tea can be and should be made with boiling temperature water.

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Good quality black tea leaves have richer nutrient substances. This is essentially why high-quality teas deliver more aromas and tastes. However, having a richer nutrient substance content doesn’t mean tea leaves will start releasing them the moment they get in contact with water. In fact, the release of these substances requires hot water, and different substances require different water temperatures.

For example, Lapsang Souchong’s smokiness, fruitiness, nectar and longan aroma are not released at the same time. Various fragrances have different boiling points. If we simply make tea with lower water temperature, we’d unavoidably miss some high-boiling temperature fragrances.

Using boiling temperature water shows the basic respect for a high-quality black tea. We want a black tea to be able to present all of its brilliance.

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An oolong leaf during the fermentation process. (This is not a black tea leaf). The red part indicates the level of fermentation.

Some tea lovers might ask: “Okay, if boiling temperature water makes a black tea tastes better, how do you explain the unpleasant sour taste in tea when I make my tea with boiling water?”

The answer is the quality of tea.

In one of our previous blogs, we mentioned that boiling temperature water often exposes some imperfections in the tea-making. It’s too common that people focus more on “boiling temperature” rather than those “imperfections”. Some tea lovers only know that lowering the water temperature can avoid the sour taste, but few ask the question why a black tea tastes sour in the first place.

Problems and imperfections in black tea’s fermentation process often led to a sour taste.

Overfermentation is the main reason of a sour black tea. Despite being a fully fermented tea, if not careful, black tea leaves can still get over-fermented. Sourness is one of a few indications of overfermentation.

Black tea needs to go through withering, rolling, fermenting, drying, and many other laborious processes. Many of these steps, if not done right, can lead to an overfermentation.

For instance, if fresh leaves are not evenly and thinly spread out during the withering, the temperature in piled-up leaves can increase dramatically and cause a sour taste; or, during the rolling process, if leaves are rolled too hard for too long, tea leaves will eventually taste sour.

Of course, we only list 2 examples here. Since black tea is fully fermented, any mistakes in the tea-making can lead to an overfermentation.

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If low-quality black tea tastes sour with boiling water, can’t we just use warm water?

Of course not.

There is no ambiguity in tea-drinking. If a tea is good, it’s good; if a tea is bad, it’s bad. We don’t need to come up with an excuse or an “alternative way of tea-drinking” for bad teas. Tea-drinking is not politics. Why try to justify something that you know is bad?

Regrettably, the wrong concept of “boiling temperature water makes your black tea taste sour” has gained such publicity in the past few years. As a tea producer, we have to point out that this is not a healthy trend. When bad quality teas become justified by subpar standards and practices, more and more tea businesses will be discouraged to produce high-quality tea products.

We hope this blog can help you better understand that the sour taste in black tea has nothing to do with the water temperature, and it is the result of overfermentation during the tea-making.

We hope you enjoyed today’s blog. As always, if you have questions or suggestions, please leave a comment, tweet us @valleybrooktea or email the author directly at Please also follow us on Instagram @valleybrooktea and join our mail list to get our daily tea updates and our latest promotions!

This is a Valley Brook Tea original blog. All rights reserved.


Irene Caroline Bailey Knutsen
Irene Caroline Bailey Knutsen
Nov 01, 2023

Interesting. I can’t say I’ve ever really had a problem with a sour taste to my black tea when using boiling water. Even the lower quality teas I’ve drunk over the years. Perhaps there is some factor of water quality playing in here? We have some of the best water in the world where I live after all. Or maybe there‘s an over steeping factor? It’s hard to know exactly.


Christine Aleta
Christine Aleta
Jan 30, 2023

I love green and white teas. However, I hate black tea! YUCK! I just donated to Goodwill a big baggie full of black tea that well-meaning friends, who know I love tea, have given to me over the years.

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