Tea 101: How to Make Loose Tea

tea spoon

Everyone has their own rules for making tea (even George Orwell set some "golden" rules for making A Nice Cup of Tea), and truth is, that's perfectly fine. Cultures from all over the world prepare and experience tea in their own ways.

For instance, the Russian way is to make "zavarka": a tea concentrate that's diluted with boiling water; in Tibet, tea is made with butter and a tea churning device called chandong; and in Morocco, the way tea is poured is part of the process.

I'm often asked how to prepare loose-leaf tea, so here's what you should know:
there is not a right or wrong way to make tea. Making tea can be as involved as making it gongfu style, or as simple as drinking it grandpa style. The best way, is the way that suits you.

Here's how I make tea:

tea pots cardigan
making tea

Tools you'll need:

  • Loose leaf tea!

  • A Tea Infuser/Strainer
    Use a tea strainer with a fine mesh or stainless steel filter. I like basket-style strainers, so that my leaves have enough room to expand. I love this one!

  • A Mug

  • Water Kettle
    Bonus if you get an electric kettle with a built-in thermometer! I use this one.

  • Tea Timer
    Really, any type of clock to keep time. I use this one.


It's important to note that there are some general steeping guidelines for different tea types. Some teas are more delicate than others, which is why water temperature and brewing time matter.  

Have you ever had a green tea that was incredibly bitter and astringent?
Chances are, it was prepared with water that was too hot and/or the leaves were left to steep for far too long!

Tea is all about personal preference. Use this as a starting point, and make adjustments to suit your tastes.

Just do you!

Tea Steeping Guide:

  • HERBAL 212°F / 5-10 MIN.
  • BLACK 200°F / 3-5 MIN.
  • WHITE 175°F - 195°F / 3-4 MIN.
  • OOLONG 175°F - 195°F / 2-4 MIN.
  • DARJEELING 175°F - 195°F / 3-4 MIN.
  • GREEN 165°F / 2-3 MIN.

Now let's make some tea!

  1. Boil your water to the appropriate temperature. Pro tip: Use only fresh, great-tasting water! 
  2. Measure your tea. The general rule is one heaping teaspoon of tea (about 3 grams) per 6-8oz of water.
    If you'd like a stronger tea, use more leaves! For large-leafed teas, I usually eyeball about two teaspoons.
  3. Set your tea strainer in your mug, and fill with tea leaves and water.
  4. Make sure to cover your tea! Tea is full of volatile oils... cover your mug so they don't escape! (I use a tea saucer.)
  5. Set your tea timer. This is the part where you contemplate life, count your blessings, just be.

    Once the timer is up, your tea is ready to drink! I like to dunk the infuser in a couple of times before fulling removing it (just to circulate the water). It's tea time!

Doll head mug by Muddy Heart // Melissa Paxton
Celestial Tea Strainer via Mountain Rose Herbs
Perfect Tea Hourglass Timer via Amazon

Check out more Tea 101 posts here.

fun fact: my cat is named after the tea plant. 

fun fact: my cat is named after the tea plant.