How to Make Loose Leaf Tea


Why loose leaf tea?

Loose leaf tea is favored over bag tea for a number of reasons. Bags are fine for convenience but loose leaf teas tend to be higher quality and provide a fuller flavor. With loose leaf tea you have more control over the infusion and overall taste. Once you have learned how to make loose leaf tea the right way, you’ll have a more flavorful and delicious cup of tea.

Aside from just the taste, buying loose tea is often cheaper because you get more servings out of it. You can reuse many teas multiple times before the flavors are completely stripped. That’s a lot more bang for your buck, even with pricier blends.

These tips will help you learn what tools are necessary, proper temperature and steeping times, and all the steps needed for learning how to make tea with loose leaves.

The Tools

Not all of these are necessary, but you’ll need a few essentials to get started.

A tea maker
A tea maker can completely change your life. These things do everything for you. They will boil the water to the precise temperature and steep the tea to the perfect amount of time with the press of a button. If you have one of these, you probably won’t need this guide at all.

A tea kettle
A tea kettle will be necessary for boiling the water. Electric or stove top will both do the job just fine. An electric model may be able to tell you the temperature of your water and allow more control. With a stove top model, you’ll need to use a thermometer.

A tea infuser
An infuser will be necessary to hold the tea and keep it from getting everywhere. Strainers can also be used. Some pots even include a strainer on their spouts so that you can brew the leaves directly inside.

A teapot with an infuser or an infuser mug
Making tea with loose leaves is ridiculously easy if the pot has an infuser already. You’ll be able to do everything except heat your water (and in some cases they’re microwavable too, so you can). This is perfect for multiple cups

For those who don’t want to brew an entire pot, there are plenty of mugs that act similarly to a teapot. They’re perfect for those solo cup drinkers who want something that does it all.

Measurements, temperatures, and steep times

The typical amount of loose leaf tea needed is one teaspoon per cup of tea. This can, of course, be adjusted to taste and how strong or light you prefer your tea. As you brew more and more cups, you’ll figure out the perfect amounts for you.

The most important thing to get familiar with are the different temperatures and brew times. Getting these wrong can destroy a cup of tea and make it undrinkable. Most of these times are flexible to taste, of course, but get too out of control and you’ll have something either too bitter, or completely flavorless.

Black tea – Steep between 3 – 5 minutes at 195-205F
Oolong tea – Steep between 3 – 6 minutes at 195F
Green tea – Steep between 1 – 3 minutes at 175-185F
White tea – Steep 1-3 minutes at 175F
Rooibos tea – Steep between 5-6 minutes at 208F
Pu-Ehr – Steep 3-5 minutes at 195F
Herbal tea – Can be steeped the longest, up to 10 minutes at 208F

How to brew loose leaf tea

Once you have all the tools and get familiar with temperatures and steep times, brewing loose leaf tea is really easy. After you’ve done it a couple of times, it will be second nature to you.

First prepare all the tools you will be using for your tea. Rinse out the pot or cup with hot water so that it is fresh and clean before brewing.

Determine how many cups you will make and measure out your tea and add it to the infuser. Lighter teas like white may require an additional teaspoon, while a denser tea may need less.

You can put the measured tea into an infuser or brew the tea directly in the pot. Just be sure to use a strainer when pouring the tea.

Hard water can alter the taste of the tea so it is best to use filtered water to get the best flavor. Bring your water to the appropriate temperature depending on the tea you will be brewing.

Pour the water over the infuser and allow it to steep the appropriate infusion time. Make sure all the leaves are fully submerged in the water or else they won’t infuse and expand.

Remove the infuser to avoid over steeping and enjoy your pot or cup of tea. Serve the tea immediately if you cannot remove infuser or if you’ve infused the tea directly in the pot without an infuser.

Additional Tips

  • Store your tea away in a tightly sealed container in a dark and cool cabinet or pantry to preserve the freshness of the leaves.
  • Brewing loose tea longer will give you a stronger taste and a shorter brew will give you a lighter taste. Going over the recommended steep times when making loose leaf tea will leave you with a bitter cup, so be careful not to go too far over the maximum steeping time. For a stronger brew use more tea, don’t steep over the maximum recommended time.
  • Many times you can make loose leaf tea using the same leaves multiple times, so don’t throw the them out right away.

Keep in mind that these are general guidelines on how to brew loose tea. The most important thing to remember is that everything can be adjusted for personal taste, and rules can be broken once you’ve managed the basics. You’ll even figure out some of your own loose leaf tea brewing techniques along the way. So start brewing lots of cups and figure out what you love the most.