How To: Steep Tea

Welcome to another installment of “HOW TO” Wednesdays! This week is an introduction to one of my favorite comforts of all time – drinking tea. From loose leaf teas to a nice, quick bagged tea there are a lot of nuances that make up perfecting a good cuppa tea. So, this week’s I will be giving some helpful hints for understanding how to steep tea.

First, you may ask, what is steeping?

Steep(ing) is defined as “to soak in liquid in order to cleanse, soften, or extract a given property from or to infuse or subject thoroughly to”.

In the case of tea, steeping refers to the extraction of flavor and nutrients from tea leaves, herbs, and dried fruits by soaking them in hot water. There are several varieties of teas and their property make up determine how you want to steep your tea. In this “how to” I will go over the basics of determining how to brew your tea to maximize the flavor and health benefits.

There are 5 different well-known types of tea: White, Green, Black, Oolong, and Herbal. Below I will provide a brief description of each tea, steeping time, water temperature, and their health benefits.

What You’ll Need:

  • A Tea Kettle – These come in different varieties. You can use a stove top tea kettle to start a brew or we prefer using an electric kettle to quickly get a boiling pot of tea.
  • A Tea Pot – When serving tea, it tastes the best when it remains hot, so many prefer the use of cast iron tea pots to steep their tea. A cast-iron tea pot should come with a strainer, lid, and it is recommended to get a base to avoid burns. Other popular tea pots include Yixing tea pots made from clay and porcelain tea pots.
  • Tea Strainer – An alternative to a tea pot is a tea strainer. These can be used for a single mug of tea and are used to capture the tea leaves in and can be removed when the proper steep time is reached. Recommendations for tea strainers are mesh strainers that can easily be removed or larger strainers that remain enclosed that can easily be washed in a dish washer after use.
  • Flavor Enhancers: Great additions to tea to make the flavor stand out more include milk, cream, honey, rock sugar,  and/or sweeteners.

For recommendations for tea pots, infusers, and favorite bagged teas check out The Fresh Fridge Store!

How To: Steep Tea

White Tea:

  • Description: White tea is the least processed of all teas, the leaves are withered and dried to create a smooth, subtle flavor.
  • Temperature: Brewing white tea requires hot water at 175º (simply add two ice cubes for every 8 oz of boiling water to achieve this temperature).
  • Amounts: Use 1.5 tsp of loose tea per 8 oz of water
  • Time: Steep for 4-5 minutes if using unflavored white tea and 1 minute for flavored white teas.
  • Benefits: boosts immune system, better skin and complexion, high amounts of antioxidants

Green Tea:

  • Description: Green Tea originates from the Camelia senesis plant, when the tea leaves are picked and dried they are heat-treated to stop fermentation.
  • Temperature: Brewing green tea requires hot water at 175º (adding two ice cubes for every 8 oz of boiling water achieves approximately this temperature).
  • Amount: Use 1 tsp per 8 oz of water and
  • Time: Steep for one minute.
  • Special Greens Time Instructions: Hand-rolled teas will take about 2 minutes to steep and shade grown tender teabud teas (like Gyuokuro) only need 30-45 seconds to steep.
  • Benefits: antioxidants, boosts immune system, lowers risk of heart disease, healthy teeth & gums, and weight loss

Black Tea:

  • Description: Black tea originates from the Camelia senesis plant and is a fully fermented tea creating a full bodied taste.
  • Temperature: Loose leaf black teas tea usually requires hot water at 195º.
  • Amount: 1.5 tsp of loose tea per 8 oz of water.
  • Time: Steep time of 3-4 minutes.
  • Benefits: heart health, increased circulation, and lowers blood pressure

Oolong Tea:

  • Description: Oolong tea originates from the Camelia sinensis plant and undergoes slight fermentation and oxidation.
  • Temperature: Loose leaf oolong teas tea usually requires hot water at 195º.
  • Amount: 1.5 tsp of loose tea per 8 oz of water.
  • Time: Steep time of 3 minutes.
  • Benefits: known as the weight loss tea, helps with digestion, burning calories and fat loss

Herbal Tea

  • Description: Tea made from dried fruits, herbs, or dried flowers. Generally a more aromatic tea that can be blended with other teas and is usually caffeine free.
  • Temperature: Loose herbal tea usually requires hot water at 208º.
  • Amount: 1.5 tsp of loose tea per 8 oz of water
  • Time: Steep time of 4-5 minutes.
  • Benefits: caffeine free, antioxidants, vitamins, relaxation, pain relief, and soothing to stomach and throat

For more tea information, check out The Fresh Fridge Tea Reviews section!

Resources: Webster’s Dictionary and Teavana’s Tea Info

6 Responses to “How To: Steep Tea”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Megan Watson, Cornell Dayne. Cornell Dayne said: How To: Steep Tea » The Fresh Fridge: This week is an introduction to one of my favorite comforts of all t… […]

  2. Joanne says:

    I have to say, though I adore tea, I definitely don’t steep it in any real kind of way. I’m so glad you posted this because I’m sure it will enhance my tea drinking experience!

  3. I have tea every morning…this is really informative. I usually have black tea in the morning, but I think I will have to try a different kind soon.

  4. Eliana says:

    Thanks so so much for the detailed explanations :)

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