Making Tea (Tea Steeping 101)

Steeping the perfect cup of tea

While all the types of tea come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, how you go about steeping various tea types can be very different. To begin let’s review the 5 key elements in steeping the Perfect Cup of Tea: time, temperature, water, volume and quality of tea tea.

Time and Temperature

Tea Type

Steeping Time

Steeping Temperature

Black Tea

4 – 6 minutes

205° - 212°

Chai Tea

5 - 8 minutes

205° - 212°


3 – 5 minutes

200° - 210°

Green Tea

2 – 4 minutes

170° - 180°

Herbal Tea

5 - 7 minutes

205° - 212°

Red Tea

4 - 6 minutes

205° - 212°

Oolong Tea

3 - 4 minutes

185° - 195°

White Tea

3 - 5 minutes

160° - 170°


 Don’t rely on color alone to determine when your tea in done, color comes fist while steeping, the deep intricate flavors develop later in the steeping process.

If you do not have or plan to use a thermometer, a general rule is bring your water to a boil (212 degrees) and then remove from heat source. Every minute off a heat source the water will lose about 10 degrees in temperature.

Notes on a few specific types of tea

  1. We recommend always rinsing, add just enough water to cover the tea lea Immediately discard this liquid, Pu-erh teas. It helps loosen up the tea, washes away impurities, and delivers a fuller flavor
  2. Very light Oolong’s and green tea should be steeped for a slightly lower time (2-3 minutes)


Don’t underestimate the importance of the quality of water that you use, it is the single most important aspect beside the quality of tea used in determining the taste of your tea.

 At a minimum use filtered (carbon-filtered) tap water but it’s best if you can find and use a high-quality spring water, it will make a huge difference in your tea tasting experience. I would avoid using distilled water, it is normally very low in mineral content and can make your tea taste a bit flat. Also a quick tip: use your water as soon as it reaching boiling, don’t allow the water to keep boiling for minutes at a time, this will reduce the oxygen levels in your water producing a flatter tasting tea.


You want to use about 3 grams of tea for every cup (~8 ounce cup) your plan to make. That is roughly equivalent to 1 tsp, keep in mind most “coffee mugs” that we use every day for tea are closer to 10-12 ounces in size, make sure you adjust the amount of tea leaves used accordingly.

Also, the 1tsp per cup is a guideline, some teas such as white teas may require as much as 2 tsp to reach 3 grams. While a tea like a tightly rolled gunpowder many only need ½ tsp to reach 3 grams. Pay attention to the size of the leaf to help guide the amount of tea that you use

Make sure you are using an infuser that allows your tea to fully expand while steeping, tea can and will expand 2-4 times in size while steeping. If you fully pack your steeper you will not get the full flavor of the tea.


Quality of Tea

It is a bit self-serving but it is true, the biggest determining factor in how your tea tastes is the quality of tea leaves used. Culinary Teas carefully selects all our teas, we go through several rounds of cupping (tea-tasting), multiple tea master’s analysis, as well as due diligence on the tea farmers before we bring in a new tea. We only carry the highest quality teas in the world, from the top 3% of all production.

With very few exceptions, all our teas are naturally flavored and contain no artificial flavors or colors tat might taint your tea tasting enjoyment.