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My friend recently gave me the advice that tea bag should be soaked in a little bit (barely enough to submerge the tea bag) of cold water for a couple of minutes. Then hot water should be added to the cold to brew it.

The idea is that scalding hot water is hot enough to burn flavour compounds and pre-soaking protects against this.

I tried googling to no avail. Does anyone have any references that prove/dis-prove this?

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You should do a test. –  citizen Feb 24 '13 at 8:46
    
Hah! Of course I have! I get a more woody tea-y taste, although I'm not sure if it's all in my head. –  event_jr Feb 24 '13 at 13:00
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I've also heard of reducing the caffeine in tea by letting it steep for a few seconds, pouring it out, then brewing your tea (as the caffeine is more soluble than most of the flavor compounds) –  Joe Feb 24 '13 at 14:46
    
Anyway, I just use the microwave. Microwaves should be more effective in jolting the flavours and compounds out of their hiding. Don't worry, they won't turn radioactive, nor would their chenical structure be conspiratorially affected by such microwaves. –  Blessed Geek Feb 24 '13 at 15:15
    
@BlessedGeek re: "Scalding" You win at interneting for now. We shall meet again! –  event_jr Feb 25 '13 at 4:02
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2 Answers

I don't think the couple minutes of soaking is actually doing anything; it'll pull a bit of stuff out of the leaves, and get them wet, but what really matters is the hot water. It sounds like this is a way of getting lower temperature water, similar to your proposed "protect the tea from hot water" explanation. This is indeed good for green and white tea, and maybe oolong, but essentially unnecessary for most other teas.

You don't actually always want boiling water for tea. Joe provided this table of temperatures in his comment. Some temperatures for common types of tea, in decreasing order of temperature: maté, rooibos or herbal (208F / 98C); black (195-205F / 91-96C); oolong (195F / 91C); blooming (180F / 82C); white or green (175F / 80C). So for some teas (black, maté, rooibos, herbal), it's pretty close to boiling - by the time the water's poured in, and transfers some heat to the cup, it'll be a few degrees below boiling, so you don't need to worry about it much.

But other kinds of tea (green or white tea), you ideally want to add somewhat lower temperature water. If you have a way to get water somewhere around 80C - for example, some electric kettles can automatically turn off at a lower temperature - then just do that. But if it's easiest to make boiling water, then if you fill your cup a bit less than 1/4 of the way with water at room temperature (20C) then fill it the rest of the way with boiling water, the result will be around 80C, just right for green tea!

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Brewing tea is pretty simple, just steep the tea in hot water for a few minutes. But you can still learn some important basic information beforehand. What temperature to brew at and whether you should choose loose tea or tea in bags are two very important things to know about. Here is the link http://coffeetea.about.com/od/teabrewing/a/teatemp.htm As it varies with the type of tea.

I suggest you to use loose tea instead tea bags, i have experienced both and realized that loose tea has delightful flavor and fragrance of tea. There are some excellent bagged teas out there, made up of whole tea leaves.Here i refer you a link what is the reason behind it. http://coffeetea.about.com/od/teabrewing/a/looseorbag.htm

Here's how use to brew Time Required: 15 minutes Recipe:

Heat water to just boiling. You can use a pot on the stove or a tea kettle. Place tea bag in your cup, or a tablespoon of loose tea. Pour hot water over tea, to fill your cup. Let steep for 3-6 minutes, depending on the kind of tea and your taste preferences. If you used a tea bag, remove it. If you used loose tea, you can strain out the leaves, or just let them settle to the bottom of your cup. Add sugar and/or milk, if you like. Drink and enjoy.

Tips:

Green teas should steep for 2-3 minutes, and black teas for 4-5.

I got enough better results by my recipe.but surely you can try it out i also tried your brewing trick and didn't found much differences. So, Pre-soaking of tea bags in cold water is not prior to brew.

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In case of link rot, a more complete table : black (195-205F / 91-96C); oolong (195F / 91C); maté, rooibos or herbal (208F / 98C); blooming (180F / 82C); white or green (175F / 80C) –  Joe Feb 24 '13 at 14:44
    
@Joe ty very much... –  Sunishtha Singh Feb 24 '13 at 14:55
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How does this answer the OP's question regarding whether pre-soaking in cold water is helpful? –  SAJ14SAJ Mar 27 '13 at 16:54
    
@SAJ14SAJ The part that addresses it is the last sentence: "i also tried your brewing trick and didn't found much differences." Sunishtha, while the other information is generally helpful, you should try to first answer the actual question, before going on to provide related information. –  Jefromi Mar 27 '13 at 17:00
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@Jefromi I admit, I didn't even notice that buried in there. –  SAJ14SAJ Mar 27 '13 at 17:01
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