When brewing tea, there are a few simple techniques that will make the difference between making a good cup and a great one. This guide to brewing loose leaf tea has all the details
What do you need to brew tea
To brew the tea you will need a teapot, or, if you want to brew tea the traditional Chinese way, use a gaiwan.
Tea leaves are best brewed in a teapot or gaiwan so that they can fully open and release all their flavor. Using an infuser can constrain the tea leaves and so is not the best way to brew tea. If you need to uuse an infuse, choose the largest one you can find that will fit in your cup or pot as this will give the ltea leaves as much space as possible to do their thing.
You will also need something to heat the water. A kettle or a small stovetop pan are the best options, though you can heat water in the microwave if that is your only option (just don’t add the tea leaves before you do so!)
Also, this may seem obvious, make sure your tea-making equipment is clean before you start. Over time mineral deposits and other residues can build up, which can taint the flavor of your tea, and so kettles, teapots, cups, infusers and other tea accessories need to be gently cleaned on a regular basis with soap even if they have only been used boiling water or steeping tea.
How much tea to use
The standard measurement of tea for compact blends is 1 teaspoon of tea leaves per 6 ounce cup of water.
However, it is a good idea to check the pack instructions for the specific tea you are brewing as recommended amounts of tea can vary a lot, and may be up to two tablespoons for very large leaved teas.
What water to use
Tea is mostly composed of water, and so it is important to make your tea wioth good quality water. Water that tastes good will make tea that tastes good.
If you can, try to use filtered or bottled water that is free of chemicals or chlorine to make your tea. If you only have tap water available to you then it is a good idea to collect some water and then leave it to sit for half an hour before making your tea to allow the chlorine and other additives to evaporate.
How much water to use
One cup of tea needs around 6 ounces of water. If you are using a teapot to prepare your tea, pre-measure it so you know how mush water you need to heat (and how much tea to use).
Heating the water
Heat the water in a tea kettle or in a small saucepan with a lid until it reaches the right temperature.
The temperature of water that you need depends on the type of tea that you are brewing. Check your brand of tea to see what the recommended brewing temperature is, or see our tea temperature brewing guide below.
Tea temperature and steeping guide
Steeping time and water temperature depend on the type of tea you are brewing.
Leaf size also determines how long it takes to brew your tea – larger leaf teas generally require longer brewing times.
Any good quality tea should come with a brewing guide, so check your packet for instructions specific to your tea.
Alternatively, here are some general tea brewing guidelines for water temperature and steeping times for different types of tea:
|Tea type||Water temp.||Steeping time|
|Black teas||205-212° F|
|Oolong tea||185-200° F|
|Green tea||165-185° F|
|White tea||160-175° F|
|Herbal/ tisanes||205-212° F|
When your tea has finished steeping, the tea leaves should be removed from the water to prevent it from becoming over-brewed (or ‘stewed’). If you used an infuser it is as easy as lifting the infuser out of the teapot or cup. If you brewed the tea directly in a pot or gaiwan then either serve it all immediately into cups, or pour it into another pot for serving. It is a good idea to preheat a serving pot to prevent it from cooling the tea.
Then serve while fresh and hot. If your tea gets too cool, it is best to enjoy it over ice verses re-heating the brew.
How to brew loose leaf tea.
- Loose leaf tea
- Teapot or cup with infuser or
- Measure the water you need for your pot, and set to heat in a tea kettle or saucepan.
- While the water is heating, measure the loose tea leaves into the teapot, infuser, or gaiwan [Note 1].
- When the water comes to the correct temperature [Note 2], remove from the heat, and pour over the tea leaves in the pot.
- Allow to steep for the recommended time [Note 3] then remove the tea leaves, or serve immediately.
- Follow the recommendation for your brand of tea, or use 1 teaspoon per cup.
- Black tea: 205-212° F/ 96-100° C
Oolong tea: 185-200° F/ 85-93° C
Green tea: 165-185° F/ 74-85° C
White tea: 160-175° F/ 71-80°C
Herbal/Tisanes: 205-212° F/ 96-100° C
- Black, oolong, green teas: 3-5 minutes
White: 2-3 minutes
Herbal/Tisanes: 5-7 minutes
You may also like: