Four Common Mistakes when Brewing Loose-Leaf Tea

Get the most out of your tea leaves by avoiding the following common mistakes…

Mistake #1: Boiling water

Every tea has an ideal brewing temperature! Teas that are oxidized less, or not at all, require lower temperature so that the leaves are not overcooked. This is why minimally-processed green and white teas need lower temperatures, while black and herbal teas can handle boiling water.

Tip: Getting the proper water temperature without a temperature-controlled electric kettle

  • White tea: Turn off kettle when steam begins to rise from spout

  • Green tea: Turn off kettle 1-2 minutes before boil

  • Oolong tea: Boil and let water cool for 2-3 min

  • Herbal, Black and Puerh tea: Use boiling water

Or, consider using a variable temperature kettle, like this one.

Mistake #2: Too little tea

Standard American and British tea bags contain bits of broken tea, so it’s tempting to just brew a pinch of tea when experimenting with loose-leaves. Experiment with a larger quantity of leaves with less water and shorter steep time. This is the way tea is prepared in much of China, the birthplace of tea and still the #1 producer of tea in the world.

Tip: Use 1 heaping teaspoon of leaves per 8 oz water

Mistake #3: Using the leaves just once
While most teabags can’t be steeped more than once, quality loose leaves tea are great for multiple infusions. Simply steep the leaves again and again for increasing lengths of time, and hotter water, until they no longer impart flavor.
Tip: Steep loose-leaf teas for at least 2-3+ infusions.

Mistake #4: Mindlessness

Most tea bags are filled with broken bits of tea leaves designed to release flavor quickly. But quality loose leaf teas come in many forms. They can be crafted into balls, cakes or whole leaves - each tea will need patient attention to be able to tell when the leaves have released their flavor.

Tip: Be present when brewing tea.

TEA 101Cecelia Lau