Mijenko's Blog

Perfect Tea Brewing

Perfect Tea Brewing

Tea bag brewing and temperature guide for a perfect brew
Perfect Tea Brewing

There’s more to making tea than pouring boiling water over a tea bag in a cup.

To make the perfect cup of tea, it’s important to know the right temperature and steeping time for your brew.

Certain teas are more delicate than others and can leave a bitter taste if you use boiling water. When water is too hot, it can destroy the tannins and other compounds in teas.

When it comes to steeping your tea bags, some teas can taste bitter if you steep them for too long. If you don’t steep for long enough, your tea can taste bland.

How do you get the balance right? For a perfect cup of tea, I’ve created a guide to temperatures and steeping time for different types of teas:

 

Tea Type

Temperature

Steep Time

Black tea

100C/212F

2-4 minutes

Green tea

80C/176F

1-3 minutes

White tea

80C/176F

3-7 minutes

Oolong tea

80-90C/176-194F

3-6 minutes

Fruit teas

100C/212F

3-5 minutes

Herbal teas

100C/212F

3-5 minutes

Rooibos

100C/212F

3-5 minutes

 

Frequently asked questions about temperatures and steeping times

How can you tell how hot your water is?

Unless you use a thermometer when boiling water, it can be tricky to work out the temperature. As a guide, water that has small bubbles floating to the surface is usually between 160-170F, and water that has strings of bubbles rising from the bottom of the pot to the surface is around 180-190F. Anything hotter than this is a full rolling boil.

Can you steep tea too long?

Perfect Tea BrewingWhen people first start drinking herbal tea, they find the flavor too bland often because they don’t steep the tea bag for long enough. Herbal teas aren’t like black teas- longer steeping extracts more flavor out of the tea bag.How long you should steep your tea for depends on the tea flavor. Some teas can taste bitter if steeped for too long, such as white tea or Darjeeling tea.

By following my guide, you should get the right flavor balance.

Can you steep tea in cold water?

Yes you can steep tea in cold water. Unlike boiling water which can destroy the tea’s structure, cold water is suitable for steeping tea. It’s also a refreshing way to drink tea during summer.

Should you squeeze your tea bag?

Apparently, squeezing your tea bag gets all the extra flavor out of the tea bag. However, this is not true! Squeezing your tea bag gets the tannins out of your tea bag and into your cup, making your tea bitter.

Can tea bags be reused?

Perfect Tea Brewing

Your tea bags can make more than one cup of tea, but the flavor and quality of the tea depends on the blend. Reusing tea bags is ok for herbal teas, but it isn’t recommended for black tea because subsequent cups of tea will taste bitter.

Do you cover tea when steeping?

Your tea bags can make more than one cup of tea, but the flavor and quality of the tea depends on the blend. Reusing tea bags is ok for herbal teas, but it isn’t recommended for black tea because subsequent cups of tea will taste bitter.

There are different opinions about whether to cover your cup when steeping your tea. The theory behind covering your cup is that it helps prevent essential oils in herbal teas from evaporating. If you’re drinking herbal tea for its health benefits, it might be worth covering your cup.

How do you make tea stronger?
Perfect Tea Brewing

Some people prefer drinking strong black tea and think that by steeping for longer they are making their tea stronger. This isn’t true- the longer you steep your tea bag, the more tannins are released into your cup. Tannins are bitter, so you’re left with a bitter tea, not a stronger tea. For a stronger tea, add an extra tea bag.

Do you add milk to your tea while steeping or afterwards?

Adding cold milk to your tea reduces its temperature. If you add the milk while steeping, this could affect the infusion of the tea. Steep your tea first before adding milk and sweeteners.

Can you add milk to Earl Grey tea?

Many people think that Earl Grey and English Breakfast teas are the same, as so add milk to both teas. Unlike English Breakfast tea, Earl Grey tea is a black tea that’s flavored with bergamot oil, leaving it with a citrus flavor. Adding a slice of lemon or some honey to your Earl Grey tea is better than adding milk. Milk is better for English Breakfast tea.

A final note…

Perfect Tea BrewingMaking the perfect cup of tea takes a bit of experimenting- try different steeping times and temperatures. Use some of the techniques in my guide- cover your cup when steeping herbal tea and notice any taste difference
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