Too Hot To Do Anything! 

Too Hot To Do Anything! 

A double-walled glass of black tea against a sunsetIt reached 112 degrees the other day. I felt wilted, wrung out, and withered all before lunchtime!

Fried Egg On A Sidewalk 

The weather apps, news stations, and news feeds have been warning people regarding the intolerable weather lingering the next few days. I prepared by accomplishing all of my errands while it was only in the 90’s. I was not prepared for the intense heat the day it reached 112, when I opened the door to the back yard to let the dogs out for a quick potty break. (Dogs can not regulate heat, pant to attempt to cool down and ideally need to be sheltered from heat as much as possible). My dogs were only let out for roughly 5 minutes per outing. The air that hit my face and body when I opened up the back door to let the dogs outside was akin to a blast from an opened oven. Seriously? To me, summertime is outdoors time. Camping, sailing, swimming, bike riding, walking the dogs, and gardening. Not this day though! It was so hot outside, one could fry an egg on the sidewalk!

How Hot Can It Get 

A scientific question formulated in my mind. If it was hot enough to fry an egg on a sidewalk (which I believe it was), would it be hot enough to boil some water for tea? Alright, maybe not actually boil the water, instead would it be hot enough to come close to 160 degrees for steeping green tea? There was only one way to find the answer to this perplexing question. I would do an experiment and report the results. I am not a scientist by vocation, yet I have an inquisitive mind and ask a lot of questions. This study was conducted out of doors with numerous uncontrolled variables. One of which was the dogs running into and nearly knocking over the mug of water! 

Hot Air, Sunshine, And Water 

A glass of iced tea on a wooden table, with a red ceramic tea pot in the background.

The experiment was conducted during the hottest part of the day, continuing until the sun sun lowered in the sky to the tree line.

My hypothesis: It is hot enough to cause room temperature water to reach 160 degrees F within three hours, thus enabling steeping of green tea.

Testing: Placing a cup of tepid, room temperature water out in the sun, reading water temperature every half-hour for three hours.

At 3:30 pm I started with a baseline water temperature reading of 70 degrees F. The mug was placed outside in the sun, and on the concrete, with the phone weather application reading 110 degrees ambient air, with a feels like temperature of 112 degrees F. Every half-hour I went outside to register the water temperature and check the phone weather app for ambient air temperature. Collected data is as follows:

The baseline reading. At 3:30 it was 110 degrees F outside. The water temperature was 70 degrees F.

  • 4:00p.m. - 110 degrees F ambient air (feels like 112 degrees F) with a water temperature of 90 degrees F.
  • 4:30 p.m. - 110 degrees F ambient air (feels like 112 degrees F) with a water temp of 100 degrees F.
  • 5:00 p.m. - 112 degrees F ambient air (feels like 112 degrees F), approximate water temperature is 106 degrees F.
  • 5:30 p.m. - 111 degrees F ambient air (feels like 111 degrees F), water temperature at 106 degrees F.
  • 6:00 p.m. - The ambient air is 111 degrees F (feels like 111 degrees F), water temperature is holding at 106 degrees F.
  • The last reading occurred at 6:30 p.m.- ambient air at 110 degrees F (feels like 111 degrees F) with a water temperature holding steady at 106 degrees F. 

The final reading of the day. At 6:30 it was 110 degrees F outside. The water remained at 106 degrees F.

Conclusion: The water temperature did not rise to an adequate minimum temperature of 160 degrees F for steeping green tea. In fact, as the ambient air temperature slowly descended, the water temperature appeared to plateau and remain constant at 106 degrees F.

Aftermath 

A close-up of a strawberry growing on a strawberry plant.

While the water did not rise to the temperature needed to properly steep a cup of green tea, the experiment was fun to do. The experiment afforded me a quick respite from the reclusivity of staying indoors during a national heat advisory warning for our city. I used the warm water regardless, to steep a cup of green tea. It took me a little longer to steep the Sweet Strawberry green tea than if I had used the correct temperature to steep green tea. I found the steeped warm tea to be extremely creamy, non bitter, and full of summertime strawberry flavor. The tea reminded me of working in my garden in the summer on a cool day, picking ripe strawberries before my dogs can eat them. 

Tea, whether from a Camellia sinensis plant or different plants, is made from a living organism. I grew up with my mom making a glass jug of sun tea several times a week. The practice of steeping sun tea is discouraged nowadays. Steeping any leaf in tepid water out in the sun, can incur possible inerrant risks. Leaves floating in sun warmed water are akin to cultured germs on a laboratory petri dish. Germs can potentially grow in what is referred to as sun tea. Better practices would be to heat the water prior to placing the leaves into water to steep. Additionally, to extract maximum flavor from tea leaves, it is best to use the correct temperature of hot water for steeping, or steep in the refrigerator overnight. Furthermore, using the cold brew method, or hot water method for steeping tea ensures germs do not cultivate and taint the tea.

However you enjoy your tea, hot or iced, may you stay cool during these scorching weeks of heat,

Leslie

About The Author

A photo of Leslie on the patio wearing a pink cardiganLeslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Level IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea.  No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!

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