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Sometimes a kettle just isn’t available when you need it to make tea. Whether you’re out somewhere and only have access to a microwave or you don’t own a kettle at all, it’s still possible to heat up water warm enough for brewing tea. Here’s the best way to microwave water for tea so you can enjoy your favourite brew.
Best way to microwave water for tea
In some places it’s considered a staple to keep a kettle in the kitchen. But certain countries, especially in certain US states, don’t stock their homes with kettles at all. If you’re a regular tea drinker you might want to invest in a kettle. But for those who occasionally want a cup the microwave works just fine.
I recently had to learn the hard way how to make tea with just a microwave after visiting some family members who didn’t have a kettle. Since they were coffee drinkers they only rarely made tea, so the microwave was the best choice. Everyone has their own preferences I guess!
See also: Tea! What is it good for? Absolutely everything! Check out our guide to the health benefits of tea, here!
Before you start
Before you decide to heat up water in the microwave for making tea make sure you have a microwave safe container. Not all mugs are microwave safe so check the bottom to make sure. If you’re not certain, or yours can’t be microwaved, then a Pyrex measuring cup or bowl works OK.
Keep in mind that water is going to come out hot! Ideally you want something that’s going to be easy to pour into your mug. The type of container you use will also affect how long the water takes to heat up.
- Start with cold water
Although it might be tempting to get hot water out of the tap it’s actually not a good idea. Especially if you’re in an older home. Hot water tanks can actually collect sediment which can affect the quality of the water. Another problem is if you have lead pipes (or other issues with your pipes) the hot water moving through is more likely to leach harmful chemicals into the water.
So anytime you brew tea start with cold tap water.
- Don’t use a sealed container
Heating your water uncovered is perfectly fine, it just might take a bit longer. Whatever you do, don’t heat water for tea in the microwave using a sealed container. As the water heats up pressure can build and cause burning when you remove it or even an explosion! Ceramic soup mugs with a vented lid work great for heating water in the microwave to brew tea with.
- Put something inside the container
Have you ever heard of superheating? It’s a real thing! It happens when a clean container (that has no chips in it or places where the water bubbles can form) becomes too warm which actually causes the water to explode! It’s not very common but it can happen.
How can you prevent superheating?
Just put something inside the container other than water. This can be something like a wooden stir or chopstick. Or, depending on how you take your tea, you can add some sugar to the mug before heating to prevent superheating. For really not picky tea drinkers, adding the tea bag itself also works.
- Put the water in the microwave and heat it up
Microwaving times will vary based on your model, but it’s best if you only heat your water in intervals of a minute or minute and a half at a time. That way the water won’t get too hot. Different types of tea have optimal brewing temperatures but unless you have a thermometer handy this is pretty tough to achieve.
As you heat your water you’ll want to stir it at those intervals as well. Stirring will help prevent hot pockets and help the water to heat more evenly.
Continue to heat until your water is boiling. It might not be fast bubbles like you’re used to when boiling water on the stove. Instead, look for small bubbles rising to the surface or steam. Tea doesn’t actually need boiling water to brew so it should be fine.
- Be careful taking your container out
Unlike when you pour boiling water into a mug the whole thing gets hot once it’s been in the microwave. You may not be able to grab the handle if you used a mug. For bowls, the sides might be quite warm. Use oven mitts or a cloth to remove your hot water from the microwave.
If you used a different container to heat the water than what you’ll be brewing in, be careful when pouring. Even if you stirred the water there could still be hot spots from microwave heating so keep in that in mind.
- Brew tea normally
This is the easy part! Now that your water is warm you can add your tea just like you would with water heated from the kettle. Follow the brewing directions on your specific tea (it varies depending on type and preference.
Again, be careful when drinking because there could be hot spots if you don’t stir thoroughly.
It really is quite easy to microwave water for tea and it comes out well. If you don’t have a kettle available it helps in a pinch, but some people also use it all the time as their brewing method.
Alternative: Brew the tea while you microwave.
Some people swear by this technique for brewing tea in the microwave.
- Instead of just microwaving the water, place your tea bag in a mug with enough water to cover the bag.Only a couple of tablespoons!
- Then microwave it for about 30 seconds.
- Cover the mug with a napkin.
- Let the tea steep for about 2 minutes.
- Add more water until it’s full.
- Microwave again (if you want) for one more minute.
It really depends on how you prefer to drink your tea and what type of tea you’re brewing. Loose leaf tea, especially if you don’t have a microwave safe infuser, might come out better brewed with the hot water method.
Now that you know the best way to microwave water for tea you’ll never be stuck unable to brew a cup again!