How To Make Tea (Steep Tea or Brew Tea)


Tea is easy to make, but a little knowledge can ensure you make a better cuppa and get more from your tea drinking experience. There are few ‘rules, but you should follow certain guidelines to get the best taste for the tea you are brewing. These guidelines are primarily aimed at the loose leaf tea drinker, but many aspects also apply to teabags.

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Best Fujian Chinese Pure White Tea

Enjoy drinking this tea – Bought this because it has less caffeine than black or green tea, and is suppose to slow down the body’s capability to absorb fat. It seems to help you keep weight off but not really sure.

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Best Organic Green Tea Bags

It’s a good stuff and works wonder in your system. – Very strong ginger. After taking the ginger and peeling and boiling it yourself this is as close to it as you’ll get. Very pleased and you’ll reorder in a bigger size next time.

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Best Organic Oolong Tea Bags

Very happy tea drinker!! – Nettle is a must have for your tea collection!! The benefits are endless. It’s high in vital nutrients, such as calcium and iron. There’s many more but these two are very important because they help with anemia and bone related issues. They also help with keeping your body youthful and healthy. The tea can help treat skin related problems, urinary tract problems, muscle and bone health, and so much more.

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Best Foojoy Wuyi Mtn. Oolong (Wu Long) Tea Bags

THANK GOD FOR OOLONG SLIMMING TEA. – The result is already showing. Are you tired of trying one slim things or the other? Give oolong a chance. You will never regret that you tried this tea. Please give it a trial..

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Best Newman’s Own Organic Black Tea 

A Very Nice, Basic Black Tea – An easy tea to drink black or with additives. It’s not bitter at all, even when over-steeped. Makes tasty sun-tea and good kombucha. The tea leaves are not that sad dust that you get in other tea bags; these tea crumbs look like instant coffee which makes you feel fancy.

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Best Organic Pu’erh Tea Bags

Very happy tea drinker!! – Nettle is a must have for your tea collection!! The benefits are endless. It’s high in vital nutrients, such as calcium and iron. There’s many more but these two are very important because they help with anemia and bone related issues. They also help with keeping your body youthful and healthy. The tea can help treat skin related problems, urinary tract problems, muscle and bone health, and so much more.


The hard and fast rules

You may be surprised to learn that are very few ‘rules’ that you must follow. Other than starting with fine quality tea, you only really need to ensure the following:

  • Water Temperature

Different types of tea require different temperatures of water – black and puer tea needs boiling water, but this will burn green and white teas – the water for these should be slightly cooler at around 165-185°F (75-85°C), depending on the tea. See suggested temperatures, quantities, and times in the charts below.

There are various methods for measuring the temperature of boiling or near-boiling water. The traditional Chinese methods still work; identifying the right temperature for the type of tea by the size of the bubbles – from “shrimp eyes” to “crab eyes” to “fish eyes”. Of course, you have to be familiar with the sort of shrimp, crab and fish that the Chinese use! Another method is to let the water boil and then pour it from one pitcher to another pitcher a number of times to cool the water to the desired temperature.

The modern tea drinker has an easier task with the advent of thermometers. But the easiest, most convenient, and above all most accurate way of getting it right every time is simply investing a small amount in a proper tea kettle with temperature settings. Our favorite (the one we use ourselves) is the excellent UtiliTEA Kettle from Adagio Teas.

  • Water Quality

Tea has a delicate flavor that can easily be ruined by ‘hard’ water. Any water that has a ‘taste’ (and is therefore affected by additives) is not recommended, but this can easily be rectified. Either use spring water with low mineral content or simply filter the water (a filter jug is fine). In China, it’s said that the best tea is infused using water from a spring local to where the tea was grown, or water from the center of a river. The ultimate tea water, legend has it, comes from the snow that has melted from plum blossoms in full bloom, and then stored in bamboo for three years… you may find this a bit tricky to come by, so that filter jug may be required after all!


A couple more good tips

  • Warming the pot

Simply pour boiling water into the vessel you are going to use, let it stand for a short while, rinse it around and pour it out. If you’re going to the trouble to use water of a correct temperature, it makes sense to keep it at that temperature while the tea brews. Warming the pot prevents the water from cooling too quickly.

Allow the tea water to circulate over the tea
The subtleties and nuances of each variety of tea are released by the circulation of water over the leaves. Restricting the flow of water, by using tea bags, infusers, and small pots that don’t allow the water to circulate lessens the quality of the final cup. Let it flow!


The three different approaches to steeping loose leaf tea

  • The Conventional Method

All you will need is a teapot and some cups to serve. Place the required amount of tea into the pot and then half fill it with hot water. Replace the lid and gently rock the pot in a circular motion to warm the sides and rinse the tea. Now, discard the liquid. If you are brewing fine green or white teas, just use hot water for this first step and add the tea afterward. Next, making sure the water is still at the right temperature, pour in approximately the right amount for the number of cups you are making, cover the pot, and let the tea infuse for the required period. Serve the tea right away, making sure you do not leave any liquid brewing in the pot, as you will want to use the leaves again later for the next infusion.

  • The GungFu Approach

This is the method preferred by tea connoisseurs the world over, as it is the best way to get the full flavor and subtleties from each variety. Only small quantities of tea are made, and the roots of this method are in high society and tea competition – if you ever attend a ‘tea tasting’, this is how it should be prepared.

The Gungfu approach takes extra time and a little more skill and knowledge than the conventional method, so it’s probably not something you will do every time you make a cup. Also, it’s only worth the extra effort if you’re using high-quality tea – bad tea will still taste like bad tea, no matter how it is dressed up! The correct procedure and teawares are very important with the Gungfu approach, but it is also supposed to be a time of enjoyment and experimentation, so don’t allow yourself to be put off – roll up your sleeves and have a go!

You will need either a genuine Yixing teapot (Yixing clay is the finest for producing teapots that can actually improve the texture, taste, and aroma of the infusion) or a traditional Chinese lidded pot called a Gaiwan. There are also some small china pots available purely for tea tasting purposes which are also suitable.

You will need some good quality china or glass cups (so you can appreciate the color of the tea), a tray, a towel, a pitcher for holding excess tea, a ready way to dispose of excess water and leaves, and, of course, your favorite high-quality loose leaf tea.

First, warm the teapot (as described in the conventional method above) and discard the water. Next, add the right amount of tea and fill the pot with water of the required temperature, rinse the tea and pour the water into and over the edges of the cups. Discard this water as well. Now fill the pot again and brew the tea for the recommended time. Whilst it is brewing, arrange the cups on the tray so they are touching in a circle. When ready, pour the tea into the cups by pouring a little into each cup and continuing in one circular motion, adding more to each cup, until the pot is empty. Don’t worry about the tea that spills onto the tray. Serve immediately, and enjoy!

  • The Tall Glass Method

The tall glass method is very simple and is intended for fine green, white and yellow teas so that you can watch and appreciate the beautiful leaves as they unfurl and impart their delicate flavors. It’s also the only way to present display (blooming) teas for the same reason.

Basically, all you need is a tall glass, which you fill with the appropriate temperature water and add the leaves to. As fine green and white teas should never become too bitter, you can actually drink straight from the glass (once the leaves have sunk to the bottom) without taking the leaves out. Alternatively, you can decant the tea into separate cups.


The perfect quantity, time, and temperature for your tea

“Surely there’s a lot more to it than that! Every pack of tea I’ve ever bought has precise quantities and steeping times that I MUST follow….”

Wrong! Making tea is more an art than a science, and without doubt, the most important factor to consider when brewing a pot is your own personal taste – how do you like to drink tea? It’s perfectly acceptable to drink your tea very strong or very weak – however, you like it to taste is the best way to drink it!

The only way to find out your taste preference (and you may like to drink each variety of tea in a different way) is to experiment. This is the basic equation for all tea making:

  • Quantity of tea x quantity of water x steeping time

You can alter these variables and come out with similar results – use more tea and a shorter steeping time, for example. The traditional Chinese method (known as Gungfu – above) is to use quite a large amount of tea and just a short steeping time. This brings out the subtle nuances of each variety that can be lost when employing a more conventional (Western) method of smaller quantities and longer steeping times (this method still produces a nice cup though). Because whole leaf tea, unlike tea bags, can be infused several times, even by using a large quantity it is still extremely cost-effective. By steeping only briefly, the tea can be infused more times – up to three times for green and white tea, and as many as five or six for the oolongs.


Different times for different teas

Every tea is unique. To maximize the subtle flavors and special qualities of each tea you should know and use some simple brewing methods and adapt them to your own taste.

The notes given below are approximately the times and quantities used to serve our teas using the traditional Chinese method (GungFu) at tea houses throughout the world. If you prefer to use the western method, increase the steeping time, and decrease the number of leaves and number of infusions. A more detailed chart for brewing Chinese teas can be found here.

Please remember, these are guidelines and not rules – only you can decide the best way for you to brew your tea.


White Tea

Quantity of water: 8 oz / 225ml / 1 cup
Preferred method:  Glass or gaiwan to appreciate leaves
Quantity of tea for each batch:  2.5 – 3 grams (approx 1/10 oz)
Ideal brewing temperature:  85-90°C (185-195°F)
Ideal infusion time:  1-2 minutes
Number of infusions:  3

Green Tea

Quantity of water: 8 oz / 225ml / 1 cup
Preferred method:  Glass or gaiwan to appreciate leaves
Quantity of tea for each batch:  3 grams (approx 1/10 oz)
Ideal brewing temperature:  75-85°C (165-185°F)
Ideal infusion time:  30 seconds – 1 minute
Number of infusions:  3

Oolong Tea

Quantity of water: 8 oz / 225ml / 1 cup
Preferred method:  Teapot (preferably Yixing)
Quantity of tea for each batch:  2.5 – 3 grams (approx 1/10 oz)
Ideal brewing temperature:  100°C (212°F)
Ideal infusion time:  15 seconds – 1 minute
Number of infusions:  3 – 6

WuYi Mountain Oolong Teas

Quantity of water: 8 oz / 225ml / 1 cup
Preferred method:  Teapot (preferably Yixing)
Quantity of tea for each batch:  4 grams (approx 1/8 oz)
Ideal brewing temperature:  100°C (212°F)
Ideal infusion time:  1-2 minutes
Number of infusions:  3

Black Tea

Quantity of water: 8 oz / 225ml / 1 cup
Preferred method:  Teapot (preferably Yixing)
Quantity of tea for each batch:  3 grams (approx 1/10 oz)
Ideal brewing temperature:  100°C (212°F)
Ideal infusion time:  15 seconds – 1 minute
Number of infusions:  3

Pu-erh Tea

Quantity of water: 8 oz / 225ml / 1 cup
Preferred method:  Teapot (preferably Yixing)
Quantity of tea for each batch:  4 grams (approx 1/8 oz)
Ideal brewing temperature:  100°C (212°F)
Ideal infusion time:  10 seconds – 1 minute
Number of infusions:  3

Flavored or Scented Tea

Quantity of water: 8 oz / 225ml / 1 cup
Preferred method:  Gaiwan or teapot
Quantity of tea for each batch:  2.5 grams (approx 1/10 oz)
Ideal brewing temperature:  90-95°C (195-205°F)
Ideal infusion time:  10-20 seconds
Number of infusions:  3

We hope that these guidelines will have helped you enhance your tea experience. But, as we always say, it is really up to you. Only by experimenting with different approaches and formulas will you find your perfect cup of tea. We hope every cup you try will be fragrant, delicious, and relaxing!

The world of tea is an exciting place to explore and we’re glad to be a part of your journey. If you’d like more information about tea, take a look at our Tea Info Zone, above…

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