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How to Make Tea in the Microwave – And Should You?

Microwaving tea is a topic of constant debate. While tea enthusiasts frown upon this method there is a food scientist who claims that it can provide additional benefits.

For most people, it’s just a convenient way of making a cup — especially if you don’t have an electric kettle or a stovetop option available.

In this guide, I will explain how to make tea in the microwave with two different methods. I will also test both of these methods and see if the result is a nice cup of tea or a disappointment.

Should You Make Tea in Microwave – Research & Facts

While I’m not super excited about the idea of brewing tea in the microwave, it might have some benefits.

Possible advantages of making tea in the microwave:

Convenient: Sometimes you don’t have a stove and a tea kettle, or even an electric kettle. If you have a microwave, all you need is a mug, some water, and a teabag.

Fast: Microwaving is one of the fastest ways to brew a cup of tea.

Taste & Health Benefits: Research indicates that microwaving your tea may be the best way to activate the caffeine, theanine, and polyphenols in the tea and even produce the best taste.

So we can all agree that if you just want a fast cup of tea, microwaving might be a good solution.

But how about the taste and health benefits?

A few years ago Dr. Vuong from the University of Newcastle (Australia) claimed that his research shows that microwaving tea is the best way to unlock its culinary and health benefits. He said that he came up with a method (this will be explained later) that makes the tea taste better and activates 80% of the caffeine, theanine, and polyphenol compounds.

Theanine is an amino acid that has a relaxing effect while polyphenols act as antioxidants and may provide protection against cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

tea cup in the microwave
Microwaving tea is quite convenient, but does it really provide some benefits over traditional methods?

So do I recommend for everyone to microwave their tea from now on?

No. We have to bear in mind that this is only one study. There should be a comprehensive comparison against other brewing methods to validate these results.

And below are some reasons why I usually don’t make my tea in the microwave unless I have no other option.

Why you might not want to make microwave tea:

Temperature Control: Different teas require different brewing temperatures and it’s almost impossible to tell how hot the water is when you microwave it. If you brew your green tea with boiling hot water it will be bitter and unpleasant.

TIP: Get a variable temperature electric kettle for the best result.

Uneven Heat: It is often said that to brew good tea it’s important to have a uniform temperature throughout your water. When you microwave water, it will be heated unevenly and the top part will be hotter than the bottom.

The Experience: Brewing a cup of tea should be a relaxing moment. Many want to use their favorite teaware for steeping and serving the tea. In some Asian countries preparing tea can be a traditional ceremony that lasts for hours and includes food. Microwaving tea is certainly very far from that.

And there are many other convenient methods available, like making tea in a French press, which is much better for loose leaf teas.

How Long to Microwave Water for Tea?

Before we go into instructions for making tea in the microwave, there is one important detail to discuss — how long should you microwave the water?

This is actually more complicated than you would first think.

There are three factors to consider:

  • What kind of tea you are making
  • How much water are you heating
  • What power setting are you using

Different teas require different brewing temperatures and times:

Type of TeaWater TempSteeping Time
Black Tea195-212°F (or 90-100°C)2-5 mins
Green Tea160-180°F (or 71-82°C)2-3 mins
White Tea160-175°F (or 71-80°C)2-3 mins
Herbal Teas212°F (or 100°C)5-10 mins

Ohh no! How can you do this with a microwave? Impossible?

Well, no worries. I have a simple method for getting it about right.

NOTE: Don’t try to get water into a rolling boil in the microwave, this can be dangerous because superheating may occur. Read more about it here.

Here is How to Brew Tea in the Microwave

  1. Put the water in a microwavable mug and heat for 1 minute on full power. Don’t fill the mug all the way — leave a bit of space to avoid overflowing.
  2. Stir the water with a spoon. Then heat for 30 seconds more.
  3. See if the water is boiling. If it’s not boiling go to step 2.
  4. If the water is boiling, then you can add your black tea or herbal tea into the mug. For green or white tea, wait for about 2 minutes before putting the tea bag in the mug so it will not be too hot.
  5. Steep for the appropriate time (see table above).
  6. Remove the teabag and add extras if you want (sugar, honey, milk etc.)
  7. Enjoy!

What if you are not using a tea bag but have loose leaf tea instead?

Read this guide about how to brew your loose leaf tea without an infuser.

How to Make Tea in Microwave with Dr. Vuong’s Method

If you are interested in trying Dr. Vuong’s method of brewing, follow these steps:

  1. Put water in a mug and heat it in the microwave until it’s boiling hot as desribed above. For green or white tea, remember to let the water cool down so it’s not too hot.
  2. Add a teabag into the mug and heat in microwave for 30 seconds on half power.
  3. Let it steep for 1 minute and then remove the teabag.
  4. Enjoy!

Let’s Test These Two Methods!

Ok, now it’s time to test these two methods.

Of course, I don’t have the equipment to measure amounts of caffeine, theanine, and polyphenols so let’s just see how the two cups of tea look and taste after brewing.

two mugs with water and Twining Earl Grey Tea Bags

I will use Twinings Earl Grey Tea for this experiment. It’s a tasty blend of black teas with a hint of bergamot oil. The package instructs to brew it in boiling hot water for 3 to 4 minutes.

I will not add any extras to the tea to better detect any differences in taste and color.

The Result

The teas brewed with these methods look exactly the same — they have a nice dark brown color with reddish notes.

two mugs with Earl Grey Tea
Tea brewed in the microwave with Dr. Vuong’s method (left) and with the “normal” method (right)

There is no notable difference in the taste either. Both teas taste exactly like a nice cup of Earl Grey should!

I have also made this same Earl Grey tea countless times by heating water in a stovetop or electric kettle and there is no difference in taste.

Conclusion – Microwave Tea

Brewing a bag of tea with water heated in the microwave provides a satisfactory result. Either method described in this article works fine.

So if you don’t have an electric or stovetop kettle available and want to prepare a cup, why not do it in a microwave!

And while you are making your tea in the microwave, you would still want to avoid consuming microplastics. So I recommend using a plastic-free tea bag.

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