How to Make the Perfect Cup of Tea

Not sure how to brew your new teas for the best results? Coming from hundreds of years of tea traditions, we’ve got some great guidelines to get you started with steeping tea. These tried and true methods will give you consistently good results, every time!

Everybody has their own personal tastes, though, and what you like best should ultimately be your guide! Don’t be afraid to experiment and decide for yourself. There’s no wrong way to do it, as long as you like the results.

For each type of tea or herbal, there are three important things to consider:

  • the amount of tea per cup or pot
  • the temperature of the water
  • the amount of time to let it steep

Quick Guide

Black Tea

  • Boiling Water (212°F)
  • Steep 3-5 minutes
  • 1-2 tsp per 8oz cup of water

Herbals

  • Boiling Water (212°F)
  • Steep 5-6 minutes
  • 1-2 tsp per 8oz. cup of water

Green & White Teas

  • Very Hot Water (175°F)
  • Steep 2-3 minutes
  • 1-2 tsp per 8oz cup of water

Oolong Tea

  • Nearly Boiling Water (185°F)
  • Steep 3-4 minutes
  • 1-2 tsp per 8oz cup of water

Black Tea & Pu-erh

Black tea should be steeped in freshly boiled water (212°F) for 3-5 minutes. Use 1-2 teaspoons of loose tea leaves per 8oz cup of water if you’re brewing a single cup. Two teaspoons will produce a darker, stronger cup of tea.

If you’re brewing in a teapot, add 1-2 teaspoons per cup, plus one extra “for the pot”, according to British tradition.

Pu-erh can be brewed in the same amounts, but some (particularly green pu-erh) benefit from a shorter steep time of about two minutes.

Tea leaves have flavors that release from the leaves quickly, and also flavors that take time to be brought out. Consequently, using more tea for a shorter steeping time will not give you the same results as a smaller amount of tea for a longer time. Too much tea is likely to produce a bitter, single-note cup. Longer steep times allow the full complexity of flavor to be released from the leaves.

Herbals & Rooibos

Like black tea, herbals and rooibos (sometimes called “red tea”) should be steeped in freshly boiled water (212°F), but for 5-6 minutes. Again, use 1-2 teaspoons per 8oz. cup.

Green & White Teas

Green and white teas are usually treated very differently from black teas. First, they can be steeped multiple times with equally good results (most people find that black tea is only good for one steeping). Matcha has special instructions of its own.

For the first steeping, use water that is not quite boiling (175°), and steep the tea for 2-3 minutes. Again, use 1-2 teaspoons per 8oz of water.

For the second steeping, about 30 seconds to 1 minute will be sufficient, since the leaves have already been hydrated. Subsequent steepings will each take a little longer, and the amount of time will depend on the quality of the tea. Some teas will be good for 5 steepings or more, other may not be worth steeping more than 2.

Oolong Tea

While black teas are fully oxidized and green teas are not oxidized at all, oolong teas cover all of the ground in between them. As a result, some of them are nearly black (60-80% oxidized) and can be brewed more like black tea, while others are almost green (15-25%) and should be brewed more like green tea.

As a general rule, though, use water that is 185 degrees to steep the leaves about 3-4 minutes.

Greener oolongs can go even shorter (2-3 minutes) at about 175 degrees. Darker oolongs can be steeped at 3-4 minutes around 195 degrees. Check the description of the oolong tea that you have purchased for further guidance!