How Long to Steep Tea: A Complete Guide

We recommend steeping tea somewhere between one and ten minutes, but it all depends on the type of tea.

Steep time is one of the most important things to nail when it comes to brewing up a tasty, balanced cup of tea. Steep the tea for too long, and you’ll end up with an unpleasantly strong, bitter cup. Steep the tea for too short a time, and you’ll have a weak, flavorless cup of tea. Making matters even more complicated, different teas require different steep times in order to bring out their best flavor.

Luckily, all of our teas come with preparation instructions that tell you just how long to steep your tea to ensure a delicious brew. If you’re curious about the steep times for different teas (or just need a quick refresher), here are our recommendations for preparing the perfect cup of tea.

Tea steep time breakdown

  • Black tea: 3 to 5 minutes

  • Green tea: 1 to 2 minutes

  • White tea: 2 to 3 minutes

  • Oolong tea: 2 to 3 minutes

  • Pu-erh tea: 5 minutes

  • Purple tea: 3 minutes

  • Herbal tea: 5+ minutes

  • Rooibos tea: 5+ minutes

Tea brewing chart

Tea Type Amount of Tea Leaves Water Temperature Steep Time
Black 1 level tsp. per 6oz. full boil (212°) 3-5 minutes
Green 1 level tsp. per 6oz. steaming briskly (175-180°) 1-2 minutes
White 2 level tsp. per 6oz. steaming briskly (175-180°) 2-3 minutes
Oolong 1 level tsp. per 6oz. almost boiling (195°) 2-3 minutes
Pu-erh 1 heaping tsp. per 6oz. full boil (212°) 5 minutes
Purple 1 heaping tsp. per 6oz. steaming briskly (175-180°) 3 minutes
Mate 1 level tsp. per 6oz. steaming (150-160°) 3-5 minutes
Herbal 1 heaping tsp. per 6oz. full boil (212°) 5-10 minutes
Rooibos 1 level tsp. per 6oz. full boil (212°) 5-10 minutes

How to prepare loose leaf tea

Different types of tea can have very different steep time recommendations, so how long you should steep loose leaf tea depends on the specific type of tea you’re preparing.

To get the steep time just right for your cup of tea, we recommend timing your brew. You can use a timer on your phone, a clock, or even a designated tea timer. Once you get the hang of infusing tea, you can also just estimate times based on your personal preference.

To prepare loose leaf tea, we recommend using a teapot, tea infuser, or tea filter. These brewing methods give the tea leaves enough room to expand as the tea steeps, resulting in a richer, more flavorful cup.

Water temperature is another important factor when it comes to brewing tasty tea - while black and herbal teas should be prepared using boiling water, other teas like green, white, and oolong should be prepared with slightly cooler water that is steaming, not boiling.

How long to steep loose leaf tea

Depending on the tea type, you may want to steep your tea anywhere from one minute to ten minutes.

How long to steep black tea

A typical black tea steep time is about three to five minutes. Black teas are usually infused for a longer period of time than most other teas, which increases their caffeine content and results in a dark, full-bodied cup. If you plan on taking your black tea with milk and sweetener, you may want to consider a longer steep.

How long to steep green tea

We recommend infusing most green teas for about one to two minutes. Knowing how long to brew green tea is especially important, since green tea can easily become bitter if over-steeped. If you’ve never prepared a particular green tea before, it’s often better to err on the side of caution and go with a shorter green tea steep time. A few specialty green teas, like Gyokuro and Kabusecha, should be infused for a longer period of time using cooler water.

How long to steep white tea

A typical white tea steep time is about two to three minutes. White tea can be made either from the first buds and tips of the tea plant, or from more mature dried leaves. White teas undergo minimal oxidation, and have a light body and delicate, mellow flavor.

How long to steep oolong tea

A typical oolong tea steep time is about two to three minutes. Usually produced in China and Taiwan, oolongs are unique teas that are partially oxidized, placing them somewhere in between black teas and green teas. Oolong teas can be infused multiple times, with subtle variations in flavor to be enjoyed in each successive cup.

How long to steep pu-erh tea

We recommend infusing pu-erh teas for four to five minutes, similar to black teas. Pu-erh teas can also be prepared using the Chinese Gongfu method, where tea is infused successively for multiple short steeps. These rich, full-bodied teas don’t become as bitter thanks to the aging process they undergo.

How long to steep purple tea

We recommend infusing purple teas for two to three minutes. Purple tea is produced from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, which is the same plant from which black, green, oolong, and other types of tea are made. Unlike other types of tea, however, the leaves of this new varietal are purple instead of green. The tea was first discovered growing wild in the Assam region of India, and is now grown commercially in Kenya, Africa.

How long to steep herbal tea

A recommended herbal tea steep time is five or more minutes. Like black teas, herbal teas should be prepared using boiling water. Unlike many caffeinated teas, herbal teas usually don’t become bitter if you extend the steep time. Some herbal teas, especially those with potent spices like ginger and turmeric, can be infused even longer for an extra flavorful cup.

How long to steep rooibos tea

Rooibos teas can be infused for five or more minutes without growing bitter. Native to South Africa, rooibos teas are full of antioxidants, and are a satisfying full-bodied alternative to black teas if you’re looking to avoid caffeine.

Why steep time matters

The longer you steep your tea, the stronger it will be. While this can sometimes be a good thing, as in the case of hearty, robust black teas or some herbal teas, infusing your tea for too long can also result in an unpleasantly bitter, over-strong taste. This is especially the case with more delicate teas like green tea, which can quickly become bitter if you steep them for too long.

Steeping teas for too little time will result in a mellower, weaker cup of tea. While some people prefer their teas on the mild side, infusing your tea for too short a time can prevent you from experiencing the full depth of flavor of your tea. Instead, you’ll end up with a weak, watered-down tea that’s just not as good as it could be.

Different teas respond well to different steep times, which is why there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to how long to infuse your tea. A hearty black tea that you plan to take with milk and sugar might do well with a steep time of five minutes, while a delicate green tea might do best with a steep time of only one or two minutes.

Why steep times have a range

When we give our customers instructions for how long to infuse their tea, we generally provide a small range. This is because infusing tea is not an exact science, and personal preference plays a big role in how long you should infuse your tea. Some people prefer teas on the milder side, while others prefer them to be very strong.

Our recommendations for how long to steep your tea are suggestions, not hard and fast rules. Feel free to experiment with different steep times in order to achieve the tea of your dreams!

FAQs

Have questions about steeping a particular tea type? Here are some of our most popular teas along with their recommended steep times.

How long to steep jasmine tea?

We recommend a jasmine tea steep time of one to two minutes for green teas and two to three minutes for white teas. Our Jasmine Yin Cloud green tea and Jasmine Silver Needle white tea are both great examples of high quality jasmine teas.

How long to steep English Breakfast tea?

We recommend steeping English Breakfast black tea for three to four minutes. English Breakfast is a popular breakfast blend with toasty and malty notes. It’s tasty on its own, but also goes well with milk and sweetener.

How long to steep chamomile tea?

We recommend steeping chamomile tea for five or more minutes. Chamomile won’t become bitter even when infused for more than five minutes. Our Egyptian Chamomile herbal tea is a fresh, flavorful herbal tea with a honey-like natural sweetness.

How long to steep chai tea?

We recommend steeping chai tea with a black base for four to five minutes. If your chai tea has an herbal or rooibos base, you can infuse it for five or more minutes. Masala Chai black tea is a classic spiced chai blend featuring cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom.

How long to steep hibiscus tea?

We recommend steeping hibiscus tea for five or more minutes. Hibiscus herbal tea has a tart, cranberry-like flavor and is extremely high in Vitamin C. It’s also a popular ingredient in many herbal blends.

How long to steep matcha tea?

Trick question! Matcha is a powdered green tea, so you don’t actually steep it. You can whisk ceremonial grade matcha with hot water for a classic cup, or add culinary grade matcha to smoothies, lattes, and more. When you drink matcha, you’re actually consuming the whole tea leaf, which means that matcha contains even more concentrated amounts of the many beneficial properties of green tea.

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