A How-to Guide for Brewing Loose Leaf Tea

Are you a little unsure about how to brew loose leaf tea?  No worries! Brewing loose leaf tea is easy. Start with quality tea, filtered water, and then steep to your personal taste.

In case you need a little more help, here are some general guidelines to start with. Remember though, these are only guidelines, so feel free to make the tea your own and steep to YOUR liking. This may require a little experimentation to find your sweet spot in terms of preference. That’s okay. Half of what makes tea a big deal is how specific it is to us.

Brewing in 12 oz. Pot Quantity Temperature Time
Green Tea ¾ – 2 Tbsp (4 gms) 185 – 200F 1 – 2 mins.
Yellow Tea ¾ – 1 Tbsp (4gms) 185F 1 – 2 mins.
White Tea 2 Tbsp (4 gms) 180 – 200F 1 – 3 mins.
Scented Tea ¾ Tbsp (4 gms) 200F 1 – 2 mins.
Wulong Tea ¾ – 2 Tbsp (4 gms) 212F 1 – 2 mins.
Black Tea 1 Tbsp – 2 Tbsp (4 gms) 212F 1 – 2 mins.
Puer Tea 1 – 2 Tbsp (4 gms) 212F 1 – 2 mins.

Try and take a moment out of your very busy life and experiment with the brews of your tea. You can go traditional and use classical Chinese teaware or there are other methods. The point is that you enjoy your tea. Below are a few simple steps we suggest to you to get you started, regardless of your tea brewing preferences.

Basic steps For Brewing Loose Tea

STEP 1: Collect your tea ware. This can be anything from a porcelain tea pot to classical Chinese teaware like a Yixing pot or a gaiwan to a Mason jar (Please visit below to learn more about how to brew using these vessels). Yes, even a Mason jar will suit your needs.

STEP 2: Select your tea. For one person each suggested serving is about 4 grams. For 2 people use around 6-8 grams. However this is flexible to your personal preferences or taste. Feel free to use more if you prefer a stronger brew or less if you wish it to be on the lighter side.

STEP 3: Use filtered water heated by stove or the electric kettle. Your water can affect the taste of your tea quite a bit and I would avoid using a microwave to heat your water if you can. In general, for lightly oxidized or unoxidized tea (green, white, scented, yellow) use 185 Degree water. For heavily oxidized tea (black, wulong, puer) use boiling water. You may not have the benefit of a handy tool that can readily register which temperature your tea is at so, here are some quick methods for adjusting the temp of your tea. If you are brewing green, white, yellow, or scented teas, add about 3-4 tablespoons of cold water to the leaves before adding your boiling water. You can also pour from a little higher up if you want to control the temperature a bit more.

STEP 4: Infusion time is flexible depending on your taste. 2 minutes for the first infusion is what we find generally appropriate. With each steeping, increase the infusion time. I’ve noticed for myself that adding a minute to each infusion works quite nicely. You can leave your leaves in your cup or pot submerged in water to rest between infusions. Some people prefer to use a strainer. This is more than fine but leaving the leaves in, so to speak, is not against the rules either. I do suggest finishing your tea in the same day you began brewing.

showing how to brew loose leaf tea in a gaiwan

How to Brew Puer Tea Cakes, Puer Bricks, and Toucha

How to store: Store in a dark, well ventilated area with less than 70% humidity. Less than 25 degrees C or 77 degrees F. Store in the paper or fabric that it comes in, not plastic. Keep it away from odors and fragrances! If you are storing it in your cupboard or your kitchen, be sure to keep it removed from spices and stored amply away from them.

How to infuse: Any cup, pot, or gaiwan made of porcelain, glass, yixing clay, iron, or other material will work.

Suggested Brewing Guidelines for Puer Tea Cakes, Bricks, and Toucha:

1st infusion — Loosen and gently break off about 5 grams of tea from the brick for approx. 12 ounces water. Use boiling water and infuse for 5 minutes.

2nd infusion — Boiling water, infuse for 2 minutes

3rd infusion — Boiling water, infuse for 3 minutes

4th to 7th infusion — Boiling water, infuse for 5 minutes

Infusions: at least 7 times

How to Break Apart Your Puer Cake

Some Final Brewing Tips

  • Don’t forget that all Chinese loose leaf tea can be brewed many times. Subsequent cups will yield not only different flavors, but also more nutrition.  Continue adding more of the same temperature water over your leaves.
    • Leaves of White Tea, Green Tea  or Yellow Tea can be infused about four times.
    • Leaves of Black Tea or Scented Tea can be infused about five times.
    • Leaves of Oolong Tea or Puer Tea can be infused more than five times.
  • Between brews, don’t empty your cup or pot completely. Leave a little bit of water over your leaves to strengthen your next brew. It allows the leaves to “keep” a little longer.
  • Other than your tea, water, and vessel, you often won’t need any extra equipment like an infuser basket or ball. Loose tea steeps beautifully on its own! Keep in mind that in many traditional Chinese tea brewing methods, no filters are used at all. You can even brew tea directly in a small bowl!
  • Try brewing your favorite teas in a tall glass. This is one of the easiest, most casual ways to brew loose-leaf tea. It also allows the drinker to appreciate the shape and coloring of the infused leaves. It’s recommended that you use a pint glass with thick walls though. Unless it feels strange to you to sip your tea with your leaves close to your lips, just blow them out of your way.
  • If you want prefer to have more control over your steep time, I’d recommend using a gaiwan or a Yixing pot. Check out some of the educational videos below that we’ve done to help you learn how to brew tea using these vessels. They provide great instructions on how to enjoy it in the traditional Chinese way.

Instructions on How to Brew with a Yixing Pot

Instructions on How to Brew with a Gaiwan