How to Make Loose Leaf Tea: A Guide to Making the Perfect Cup of Tea
New to loose leaf tea? Fortunately, making a cup of loose leaf tea is easier than you think! Read on for our complete brewing guide.
How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea
1. Heat your water
The first step in making a cup of tea is to heat your water. As you progress as a tea drinker, it may be worth investing in an electric kettle with temperature controls, as the recommended temperature varies by type of tea. If you don’t have an electric kettle at the moment, you can also use a stovetop kettle or a pan. Start by filling your tea kettle or pot with filtered or fresh water and heat your water to the temperatures listed below.
Recommended water temperature by tea type:
- Black tea: 206°F - 212°F
- Green tea: 175°F - 185°F
- White tea: 175°F - 185°F
- Pu-erh tea: 206°F - 212°F
- Oolong tea: 185°F - 195°F
- Rooibos: 212°F
- Herbal teas: 212°F
2. Measure out your loose-leaf tea
While your water is heating up, place your tea strainer into your cup or teapot. Then, you can measure out the whole leaf tea and place it in the infuser. As far as the amount of tea goes, a good rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon per 8 ounces of water. This amount may vary by tea blend, so always be sure to double-check the brewing instructions on the back of our pouches. If you prefer a stronger cup of tea, try experimenting with slightly more tea leaves until you find your perfect cup of tea.
3. Pour your hot water over the tea leaves
The next step is to pour your boiling water over your loose tea, sitting in the infuser. This is the key to making a flavorful cup of tea: saturating your whole leaf tea and fully immersing it in the hot water while steeping.
4. Steep your tea
The length of steeping time will, again, depend on the tea type, with white tea being on the shorter side and herbal blends being on the longer end. While herbal teas are forgiving, you will want to be careful to not over-steep other blends, as they can quickly become bitter. But, fortunately, our handy phones can help us with a timer!
Recommended tea steeping times:
- Black tea: 3 - 5 minutes
- Green tea: 1 - 3 minutes
- White tea: 1 - 3 minutes
- Pu-erh tea: 3 - 5 minutes
- Oolong tea: 1 - 3 minutes
- Rooibos: 5 - 7 minutes
- Herbal teas: 5 - 7 minutes
5. Remove your tea leaves
Once you are finished steeping, you can remove your strainer and discard the tea leaves. And then you can begin to enjoy your hot tea! If you enjoy a sweetened cup of tea, this is the point that you would want to add your preferred sweetener.
Selecting Your Tea
Whether you’re new to tea or just looking for a new tea, the most important part in making a perfect cup of tea is selecting a high quality tea blend. The best tea blends are typically made with organic ingredients and natural flavors (if any). Fortunately, there are tea blends for everyone, ranging from chai to chamomile herbal teas. For those who enjoy drinking black tea, earl grey or English breakfast blends are two great options.
Ways to Brew Loose Leaf Tea
There is a multitude of ways to brew loose leaf tea, depending on what teaware you have on hand and your intended use.
Strainer / Tea Infuser
A basket, stainless steel strainer is always my preferred way of brewing tea at home. It’s a simple but incredibly versatile tool: it can fit in nearly any vessel from mugs to thermoses to teapots. And stainless steel tea infusers are, by far, the easiest to clean. While not quite as practical, a tea ball or silicone infuser can add some extra fun to tea time!
While a french press is most commonly used to make a cup of coffee, it does double as teaware! I tend to use my french press when I’m making 2+ cups of tea or brewing a tea concentrate for a favorite tea cocktail or a glass of iced tea. My only word of caution to those using a french press for both coffee and tea brewing is to thoroughly clean it after making coffee so that the flavors do not taint the tea.
Unsurprisingly, you can also brew tea in a teapot--who would have thought?! Many teapots come with built-in strainers, but, if not, you can simply place a basket strainer in the opening. I always love making a pot of Vanilla Earl Grey Escape for a tea party!
Tea bags or tea filters are great for on-the-go or those who are steadfast tea bag fanatics. Essentially, these are empty filters that allow you to portion your loose leaf tea for immediate or eventual steeping.
Most similar to a teapot, a gaiwan is a small brewing vessel. It’s beloved among experienced tea enthusiasts, as it allows one to appreciate a tea’s aromas.
How to Make Iced Tea
If you don’t mind waiting a day to enjoy a glass of iced tea, simply follow the above process. Then, allow your tea to cool, transfer it to a refrigerator-safe vessel, and chill for at least 4 hours or until cold.
If you’re like me and tend to crave an immediate cup of iced tea, you are going to follow the above instructions, but you will make two changes: Instead of using 8 ounces of water to steep 1 teaspoon of tea, you will use 4 ounces of hot water. Then, once steeped, sweeten the tea to your liking and pour the hot tea over a cup of ice. And there you have it--iced tea in 5 minutes! The idea behind this method is to make a concentrated version of tea so that the flavor is not diluted when combined with ice.