I get asked a lot about whether you should microwave water for tea. It took a while for me to post about because I was worried about unintentionally offending someone. For that reason, I'll put in a disclaimer right now: tea is best consumed how you prefer it! That being said my goal is always to make the best cup of tea possible. Of course, there are times when we aren't in a position to make tea in an ideal way. I've used hotel room coffee makers, my mother's soup pots and any number of improvised methods when I had to. When you're at home though I would never recommend microwaving your tea. Here are my reasons why:
They Aren't the Cleanest of Places
I can't help but think of microwaves as a gross place in general. Despite our best intentions they are often covered in sauce splatter and who knows what else. My ex-boyfriend frequently used his to warm up canned cat food. When they do get dirty, we often use caustic chemicals to clean them. Do you really want all of that going into your tea?
Lack of Control
Different types of tea can require various water temperatures. Every microwave model is different but the one thing they all have in common is that we are not able to control the exact temperature of the water that is being heated. Although you could certainly use a thermometer to check the water afterwards I would would much rather use a variable temperature electric kettle.
Microwaves pose a potential danger of superheating water. I've seen some websites claim that this is not true however I've seen it happen myself. Snopes also agrees with me. Placing something non-metallic like a wooden chopstick into the cup can help avoid this happening but I'd rather be safe than sorry.
It Just Doesn't Taste the Same
It could very well all be in my head but I just don't enjoy tea that was made with microwaved water as much as stove-top or kettle heated water. There's lots of sites out there where this question was asked but I haven't been able to find a definitive reason why. Some theories suggest that the amount of dissolved oxygen is reduced, creating a flatter tasting cup.
It Makes That Weird Froth On Top
Since microwaved water lacks a nucleation point for air bubbles, it tends to make a weird froth on the surface of your cup once a tea bag or sugar is added to the cup. You all know what I'm talking about. I just can't bring myself to enjoy a frothy cuppa unless the tea in question is matcha.
What do you think about microwaving water for tea? Let me know in the comments!