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How to Brew Loose-Leaf Tea

Do you enjoy a good cup of tea but aren’t sure how to brew loose leaf tea? This guide will walk you through tips and tricks that make it easy!
Average Steep Time:4 mins
Total Time4 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: British
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Yield: 8 ounces tea
Author: Nicole McKinney
Cost: $0.50 per cup (amount variable)


  • tea ball or infuser (if not using infuser teapot)


  • 8 ounces water
  • 1 teaspoon loose-leaf tea or herbals, amount variable See notes "How much tea?" and "Tea vs. Herbals"
  • sweetener of choice (honey, sugar etc) Optional
  • milk Optional


Hot Brewed Tea:

  • Heat the water using the following guide:
    Black Tea: Full boil (212°F)
    Rooibos: Full boil (212°F)
    Pu-erh: Full boil (212°F)
    Oolong Tea: Near boiling (195°F)
    Green Tea: Simmering (175°F-180°F)
    White Tea: Simmering (175°F-180°F)
    Mate: Steaming (150°F-160°F)
    Herbals: Full boil (212°F)
    Dissolve Sugar Into Water
  • Add loose tea to an infuser teapot, an infuser or a large tea ball.
    Add Thyme to the Teapot
  • Brew tea using the following guide:
    Black Tea: 3-5 minutes
    Rooibos: 5-10 minutes
    Pu-erh: 5 minutes
    Oolong Tea: 2-3 minutes
    Green Tea: 1-2 minutes
    White Tea: 2-3 minutes
    Mate: 3-5 minutes.
    Herbals: 5-10 minutes
    For longer brews, it's helpful to cover the tea while brewing to keep it warm.
    Steep Tea 10 Minutes
  • Pour the tea out of the teapot, or remove the infuser or tea ball from your mug.
    Optionally, sweeten to taste or add milk.
    chamomile lavender tea in mugs with honey on a spoon

Cold-Brew Tea:

  • Add tea or herbals to a glass container.
    Cover with water, and chill in the fridge for 8 hours.
    If using herbal tea, the timing isn't critical and you can do a longer brew if desired. If using tea leaves, remove the tea from the water after 8 hours to avoid bitter flavors.
    Steep Hibiscus for 8 Hours


For larger batches: Use the 1-teaspoon of tea to 8-ounces of water as a general guide, and make larger batches as desired.
How Much Tea?  The amount of loose-leaf tea or herbals will depend on how strongly flavored your tea is.  In general, black or green teas are stronger, and herbals are milder.  Dried herbals are stronger than fresh herbals, so you may want to double or triple the amount if using fresh herbals (such as fresh mint).
Tea vs. Herbals:
  • Tea is a specific type of plant leaf. 
  • Herbals can include fresh or dried flowers, herbs, fruit, or any other non-tea plant.
  • Some varieties of herbals, especially those made with fruit or roots (such as cranberry tea or fresh gingerroot tea) benefit from a long boil directly in the water instead of the brew times indicated.
Silver vs Glass or Ceramic Teapots: In general, avoid teapots made from reactive materials (such as silver), or at least be aware that these can change the flavor of your tea.  Glass or ceramic teapots are an ideal choice for most teas.