Dear Straight Dope:
This has been driving me crazy for a long time. Whenever I read a novel where someone English makes tea, the water has to be boiled 'just so.' The problem is that there is no general rule that these tea-making folk follow. The range seems to be just before boiling to about 3 minutes of boiling time. My question is, does it matter? Is there a clear definable point at which the water boils 'just so,' and what is that point if it exists?
Most tea companies recommend to get the water “just to the point of boiling.” Water releases oxygen as it boils, so if you leave the pot on for a rolling boil, you might find that your tea tastes flat. It is also recommended that you only boil enough water for your teapot to handle, and dump what’s not used. But this is always a matter of taste, so if you don’t really notice any difference in your tea, I really wouldn’t worry about it.
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