How to Steep Tea
Learning how to steep tea is an exciting adventure and doesn’t have to be intimidating.
Allow us at The St. James Tearoom to guide you through all the steps.
What You Will Need to
Steep Loose Leaf Tea
How to Steep Tea: The Fundamentals
Follow these three simple steps to steep loose leaf tea. Read more about each step further below.
Measure Your Loose Leaf Tea into Infuser or Tea Bag
In general, use about 1 rounded tsp. per 6 oz. water.
Pour Perfect-Temperature Water over Leaves
Use boiling water for Blacks, Herbals, and Rooibos teas and simmering water for Greens, Whites, Oolongs, & Pouchongs.
Steep to Appropriate Steep Time
Use the Steeping Times listed on every St. James Tea for the perfect balance of body and flavor.
How to Brew Tea: The Details
These are the detailed steps to making loose leaf tea.
Once you practice these concepts, you’ll be able to steep any of our St. James loose leaf teas to perfection!
Step 1: Measure Your Loose Tea Leaves into an Infuser or Tea Bag
General Measurement Guidelines
- In general, you should use the following measurement: ~1 rounded tsp. of loose leaves for every 6 oz. of water.
- Keep in mind that the bigger the “leaves” are, the bigger your scoop size should be. The smaller the “leaves” are, the smaller your scoop size should be.
- Pick an Infuser or Tea Bag that is big enough to allow your loose leaves space to breathe. This will get you better flavor.
- Use a finer mesh Infuser or Tea Bag to prevent the leaves from slipping through the holes and getting into the water directly while they steep.
Know Your Vessel Size
- We recommend measuring the exact ounces your teapot, mug, or teacup holds before steeping for the first time so that you know exactly how much tea to use. When you do this, be sure to fill about half an inch below the brim, as filling to the brim will cause you to spill when pouring. Be mindful to fill to that same “line” once you are making your tea.
Step 2: Pour Perfect-Temperature Water Over Leaves
Prepare Your Water
- For the best tasting tea, use bottled or filtered tap water.
- Heat your water in your kettle to a Rolling Boil for Blacks, Herbals, & Rooibos teas.
- Use simmering water for Greens, Whites, Oolongs, and Pouchong teas. To get simmering water without a thermometer, first boil your water to a rolling boil, then let the water sit until the steam loses some of its movement. For 0.5 liters of water, you should wait about 3 minutes. For 1.5 liters, your should wait about 5 minutes.
Warm Your Porcelain or Glass
- Caution: to avoid cracking your beautiful glass or porcelain, be sure to warm your teapot, mug, or teacup before pouring your kettle water in.
- You can do this by filling your vessel with warm water while waiting for your water to boil; or you can pour a tiny amount of your boiled water in the bottom of your vessel (no more than 1/4 to 1/2 inches) and swirl it around gently until the porcelain feels warm to the touch.
- Always pour out the warming water before steeping your tea with the fresh water.
Keep the Heat In While Steeping
- Pour the water over the leaves into your teacup, mug, or teapot and keep the leaves in the water.
- Cover your teacup, mug, or teapot while steeping to keep the heat in. You can do this with a cozy, a lid, or a tea towel. This will keep your flavor consistent when brewing tea.
- Tea Master’s Tip: If you accidentally forget you were going to make tea and come upon warm water in the kettle, you may be tempted to reuse it. However, double boiling your water can actually change its composition and affect the taste of the tea, so we recommend starting fresh.
Step 3: Steep to Appropriate Steep Time
Lift and Drain Halfway Through
- For the fullest flavor in your tea, halfway into the steep time, lift your leaves and let the water and flavors drain into your vessel for about 3 – 5 seconds. Then return the leaves to the water, re-cover to keep the heat in, and continue steeping for the rest of the time.
Pull the Tea Leaves at the Steep Time
- When the tea has reached its full steep time, lift your leaves and let the flavor drain into the water for about 5 – 15 seconds. Set the wet leaves aside on a tea tidy to keep your counter clean.
- Do not squeeze the remaining water out of your tea leaves, as this reduces your ability to control the flavor of your tea.
- At The St. James Tearoom, we’ve taken out all the guesswork for you and have found exact steep times for each of our teas that result in the perfect balance of body and flavor. If you want your tea to taste like it does when you come for our fine dining afternoon teatime, start with the times listed on the bags of our St. James Teas.
Steep to Your Preferences
- The great thing about tea is that it is a personal drink! You may simply love your tea earlier or later than our steep times because of the different flavors and body that comes out. Steep to your particular taste.
Ready to Get Started?
We have over 70 high quality loose leaf teas available for purchase through our local St. James Market and our St. James Online Tea Shop and Gift Shop. Pick your favorite tea and use these “How to Steep Tea” steps to get your perfect brew today!