Have you ever struggled to learn how to make loose leaf tea? If you are new to loose leaf tea, it can be a challenge to get all of the parts just right.
How much loose leaf tea per cup do I use?How hot should I get the water?How long do I steep the tea leaves in the water?Does it matter if it is black tea or green tea?
Your results can be a cup of flavorless hot water or even worse, tea so strong you can’t drink it, so you pour it right down the sink. Frustrating!
On a side note, at SoMo Tea we refer to making tea as "steeping" and not "brewing". Steeping describes the tea leaves as soaking in water and extracting the flavor as opposed to hot water flowing over the leaves such as you would brew coffee with hot water flowing over the grounds. Probably just semantics but that's how we roll.
Different teas need different temperatures to pull out the full flavor of the leaves, herbs, or fruit. If you are using true tea, camellia sinensis, then green tea will require cooler water than a black tea for example. If you are steeping an herbal or fruit tea, then it’s always boiling water. It is all about the right temperature for the right tea to pull out the most flavor.
Use the chart below for a great starting point for proper temperature.
Next, how big is your cup (or teapot)?
Size really matters as that will tell us how much tea that you will need. This is a common mistake when making tea is estimating how much water that your tea mug or teapot holds.
An easy way to measure is to fill your mug or teapot with the amount of water that you would usually use to make your favorite tea. Now pour the water out of your teapot or mug into a measuring cup and measure. You might be surprised at how much water it holds.
Take a look at a few examples below:
You can visually see the difference from an antique teacup at 6 ounces to my favorite art fair ceramic mug that holds a whopping 22 ounces of water.
Especially in the US, our cup sizes have grown dramatically over the years. A dainty teacup in your home cupboard or coffee cup from your local diner in the 50’s would be about 6 ounces compared to the mega-colossal-giant of a 40 ounce cup at your local gas station or quickie mart filled with sweet tea.
Now that we have an accurate measure of the amount of water your favorite mug holds then we can figure how much tea we need for that perfect cup. With western style teaware, a good rule of thumb is 1-2 teaspoons per 6-8 ounces of water as a starter.
Black tea, for example, is naturally a stronger tea so 1 teaspoon (2 grams) will be a great starting point. Green, white, or oolong teas take a little more (3-4 grams) depending on your preference due to their lighter nature. Remember, if you like your tea strong then use more tea not more time.
Tisanes with herbs and fruit take more due to their structure. You will normally start with 2 teaspoons or more to get that great flavorful cup. (4-5 grams)
Let's take a look at our cups and mugs from above and see how much tea they will need to get that great cup of tea.
Your morning cup of tea does not need to be a science experiment but it’s good to know, visually, how much loose leaf tea you need for your cup. Below is a visual of a Darjeeling black tea with their different amounts. You can use a small kitchen scale to measure out your tea to get an idea of how much you need 1 time and will have an idea for your next cup.
I realize in the US we measure with ounces, but grams are much easier to use as measure points for smaller amounts. 2 grams equal .070 ounces, 3 grams equal .105 ounces, and so on. Grams tend to be a little neater and the tea growing regions will always measure in grams.
It’s your cup of tea so I challenge you to use these as starting points and experiment until you get YOUR perfect cup.
Now that you have the right temperature and the right amount of tea it’s time for a little patience.
Time is an essential element in your perfect cup. Too much time and you’re left with a bitter cup…too little time and you’re drinking a cup of warm water with little flavor.
The suggested times below are given with the assumption that you are using the prescribed tea amounts. The western style of tea steeping time and quantities differs from the eastern style of tea due to traditions and teaware.
It’s that easy. Heat, Steep, and Enjoy! I want to stress that these are starter times and amounts. Learn the basics and then craft your personal cup of tea and with the right amount of water, tea, and time you will get consistent results every time.
TIP #1 - If you like strong tea then use more tea NOT more time.
TIP #2 - If you like your tea a little weaker then use less tea but the SAME steeping times
TIP #3 - Measure the amount of water that your favorite cup, mug, or traveler holds by pouring in the amount of water you would usually use and then pour into a measuring cup to measure.
Let me know in the comments below what your favorite way is to create that perfect cup. Do you alter time, amounts, or temperature?