Determining appropriate water temperature
There are many ways to determine when your water is hot enough for steeping your tea without the use of a thermometer. The 3 different methods are detailed as seen below:
1. “Sheng Pien” meaning “sound distinguishing”. Using your ear you can distinguish three clear levels of heat:
At the first level, the water makes a low humming sound and is called medium-done, yin-yang, or baby water. Such water is never used for making tea and in fact is never used for anything in cooking, as yin-yang water is said to be unhealthy.
At the second level the water starts to pop noisily in your kettle or container. This is called mature water and is generally the right level for making tea.
At the third level, the water bubbles ferociously. This is called old man water or white hair water and is not used for making tea.
2. "Chi Pien” meaning “air distinguishing”. This method involves watching the steam as the water heats up:
At the first level, the steam rises in small streams, very slowly, gradually, and gently. This is baby water, which is unusable.
At the second level the steam rises at a moderate volume. This is about the right level for most teas.
At the third level the steam ascends at a high volume, like chunks of cloud. This indicates old man water and is no longer suitable to make tea.