With many tea experts recommending highly specific different temperatures and steep times depending on the tea of choice to make a proper brew, it can be difficult to even fathom that one could successfully make a perfect cup of tea using a microwave to heat water. And yet, don’t be fooled—it is, in fact, entirely possible.
However, despite what you may think, microwaving an entire mug full of water and steeping your tea can be ineffective due to the uneven dispersion of water temperature that occurs when heating water in a microwave. Today, we’re going to take you through all of the necessary steps in detail so that you know the best way make the perfect cup of tea in the microwave so that you can get your daily fix in any situation.
So next time, you’re stuck in a hotel room without an electric tea kettle, you’ll be able to use this microwave method to turn a cup of water into a good cup of tea!
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Microwave Method To a Good Cup of Tea
Choose Your Favorite Tea and a Microwavable Mug
When it comes to choosing tea for microwaving purposes, you’ll be pleased to know that there are no major discrepancies between types of tea to concern yourself with. However, the process will be much easier with tea bags than loose leaf tea, so you should choose tea bags when making tea in the microwave.
Whether you love a black tea, white tea, herbal tea, or another variety, this method will help you make the perfect cup of tea using a microwave oven to microwave water instead of an electric kettle or stove top.
While you can choose any type of tea you’d like, but it’s important to ensure that you choose a sturdy, microwave-safe mug to make your tea in. Non-microwavable mugs can result in unevenly-heated water, get extremely hot, and even break, so choose wisely. Mugs like these barista-quality microwavable tall mugs from Amazon are a perfect choice.
Add the Tea Bag and Three Tablespoons of Water to the Mug
Now that you’ve picked the perfect mug, you’ll want to add your tea bag and about three tablespoons of water to the mug. The amount of water you’ll need to put in could vary by a few tablespoons, depending on the width of your mug, but as a general rule, you need just enough water to cover the tea bag completely.
Try to avoid using unfiltered tap water, as the minerals can add a less-than-pleasurable metallic taste to your tea. Filtered tap water works just fine.
Don’t worry about filling the rest of the mug up with water just yet—that step comes later.
Put the Mug in the Microwave for 30 Seconds
Once you’ve managed to find the perfect level of water to cover your teabag, put your mug with the tea bag and water in the microwave for around 30 seconds.
Depending on the strength of your microwave, the amount of time you should microwave it for changes, too. If you have a lower-strength microwave, you may need to microwave the tea for 45 seconds.
You’ll know you’ve reached the right amount of time when the water is steaming but not entirely at its boiling point.
Steep Your Tea
It’s now time to steep your tea; you should follow the same steeping instructions as you regularly would for the specific type of tea you made. This is extremely important, as the amount of time you steep your tea has a profound impact on its flavor profile.
Here’s a general guide for some of the most popular types of tea:
|Tea Type||Steep Time|
|English Breakfast Tea||3-5 minutes|
|Green Tea||1-3 minutes|
|Earl Grey Tea||3-5 minutes|
|Chamomile Tea||More than 5 minutes|
|Peppermint Tea||5-10 minutes|
|Oolong Tea||1-5 minutes|
To make sure your tea steeps evenly, be sure to use a mug topper to cover the top of your mug while it steeps. If you don’t have a mug topper, you can use a small dish or even a paper towel to help trap some of the steam in the mug to ensure proper steeping.
While it Steeps, Prepare Another Mug Full of Water
While your tea is steeping, prepare a separate microwave safe mug but this time, fill it up fully with water. Eventually, you will pour the hot water from this mug into the tea mug to take up the remaining space.
Note: You should use filtered tap water to fill this mug up as well.
Microwave the Mug Full of Water for 30-45 Seconds
As the mug full of water you just prepared has a higher volume of water than your first mug with the tea bag, you’ll want to microwave this one for a bit longer. Start by microwaving it for 30 seconds, and if you notice the water hasn’t started steaming properly, add another 10 to 15 seconds.
Once again, this is a general rule—depending on your mug and microwave, the time you’ll need to microwave can vary. Just like the last mug, you’ll know it’s done when it’s steaming but not completely boiling.
Pour the Mug Full of Water into the Steeped Tea Mug
Once your tea bag has steeped for the recommended amount of time for the type of tea that you chose, it’s time to add the rest of the water to your tea.
Before you pour the mug of microwaved water into your tea mug, use a spoon to mix the water from the full mug around to ensure the heat has dispersed evenly throughout the cup. Then, you’re free to pour the water into your tea mug.
Add Your Favorite Extra Ingredients
Depending on the type of tea you made, you might be inclined to add some of your favorite ingredients to top it all off.
For black teas, try adding milk or plant milk and some sugar for the classic morning cuppa. If you choose an herbal tea like peppermint or chamomile, honey or agave nectar turns them into delicious, sweet treats.
Or, you may choose to leave them undisturbed so that you can taste the full flavor spectrum of the tea itself.
In a Rush? Zap that Tea!
While making the perfect cup of tea in a microwave might involve a bit more care, it’s a foolproof way to get yourself your daily fix in any given situation. You don’t have to boil water on the stove to get all the health benefits and deliciousness you crave. A cup of microwave tea is a quick way to get a cup of hot tea ready to go in mere minutes.
Follow these instructions, and you’re sure to enjoy a delicious, hot cup of tea that’s indiscernible from one that was made conventionally.
If you have more time, check out this complete guide to brewing the perfect cup of tea.
Not in a Rush? …Here’s the Science Behind Why You Shouldn’t Zap Your Tea Water
If you’re a self-described tea lover like me, you may shudder at the idea of microwaving your daily cuppa. Chances you have an electric kettle right on your countertop at the ready so you never need to microwave tea.
In a technical article by the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China called, “Multiphysics analysis for unusual heat convection in microwave heating liquid”, the scientists came to the logical conclusion that microwave ovens do not heat tea water to a uniform temperature. (If you’ve ever heated up a bowl of soup to find the edges scorchingly hot and the middle cold, you’ve experienced this too.)
In a tea kettle, which has a heat source at the bottom, there is a hot water rise from the bottom to the top of the container, which sends the cold water molecules at the top down to the bottom. This convection process allows the water to heat evenly.
Because microwaves heat unevenly with superheated water in some spots and cooler water in others, it’s a good idea to give the mug of water a stir before you pour it on your tea bag so you’re more likely to get the ideal temperature for brewing.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with using your microwave when you need to, or to heat up a cup of tea that’s cooled off. No snobs here…
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