Tea Brewing Guide

Tea Brewing Guide

how to brew tea blog

Welcome to our tea brewing guide.

What is tea? To gain a real understanding of the word “tea”, we refer to the leaves, buds and stems, produced from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Herbs and flowers from other plant derivatives are technically not considered tea. They are commonly referred to as “herbal tea” or “herbal tisanes”. Globally, there are 6 types of tea that have been formally recognised:

White Tea | Yellow Tea | Green Tea | Oolong

Black Tea | Puerh (Dark) Tea

Within the Camellia Sinensis plant, we find hundreds of “varietals” (a separate variety of plant within a plant species), for example, the two most common varietals of the Camellia Sinensis plant are: Camellia Sinensis var. Sinensis (originating in China) and Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica (common to the Assam growing region in India).

Within the varietals we find several “cultivars” (plants that present distinctive characteristics but not prominent enough to be considered as a varietal).

Then we come to “hybrids”; a genetic process combining two varietals into one. This may be beneficial to help a plant become more adaptable to particular growing conditions, while maintaining favourable characteristics of both plants.

Tea is grown in various parts of the world in unique environments, altitudes, soil, climates, temperatures, and weather systems. This is also referred to as the terroir, in the same way we attribute it to producing wine.

These factors also contribute to the characteristics of the tea variety. Depending on the type of tea and the way it has been processed, it will require a unique brewing technique.

As there are a multitude of teas in existence, the brewing time and temperature will vary greatly. It is always best to follow the instructions provided by your tea supplier. However, there are plenty of reputable sources online to help guide you.

We are going to show you a brewing guide, which will be especially useful to those who are new to the loose leaf or specialty tea community. Just remember there are always exceptions dependent on the supplier, variety, quality or even rarity of your tea.

The general measurement per serve is 2.5g – 3g of tea per cup (200-250ml), which is usually around 1-2 teaspoons per cup. This can vary dependent on the weight and the size of the leaf. Sometimes the larger leaves, lighter in weight, require an extra teaspoon or two, to make up that measurement. We want to have an accurate measurement to brew tea correctly and experience its true flavour and characteristics.

DO NOT brew your tea with tap water! Always use filtered or spring water to maintain the integrity of your brew.

It is also important to remember that if you have a good quality loose leaf tea, it doesn’t just stop at the one steep or infusion. You should get several infusions from each serving of tea you brew. If you choose to enjoy your tea in this way, start with a shorter brewing time (approx. 40-60 sec) initially 

and increase the time with each infusion as you progress.

You will notice the flavour change and evolve with each infusion. Make the most of your tea and don’t let the good stuff go to waste!

We recommend that you follow the directed brewing times and temperatures, to avoid scorching a delicate tea leaf that cannot endure boiling hot water. Over-brewing is also a common and easy thing to do. Both situations can result in an overly bitter, unenjoyable cup of tea.

how to brew tea blog

If you are a dedicated tea drinker, we would suggest that you invest in a temperature-controlled kettle.

However, if that’s not on your radar, pour boiled water into a vessel and either top it up with some cold water to cool it down, or let it sit for a few minutes, before pouring it onto your leaves. Our tea brewing guide below is a recommendation only:

how to brew tea blog


Brew time 2-5 minutes

Temp 75°C – 85°C

White teas are the most delicate and least processed of all the tea types. White tea is minimally oxidised, rich in nutrients and antioxidants. They are lightly fragrant in aroma and mostly subtle in flavour. Often made from young leaves, shoots, and buds , the tea leaves can appear to look silver and velvety. Some of the most popular white teas include Silver Needle, Pai Mu Tan (White Peony) & Moonlight White

how to brew tea blog


Brew Time 1-2 min

Temp 75°C -80°C

Yellow Tea is a rare and unique variety, drawing upon the processing techniques in the production of green tea. However, there is an additional stage in the process, where (after initial wilting/withering) the leaves are “smothered” (wrapped in cloth) and left for several hours or days, prior to the next stage of processing. The “smothering” process enhances the flavour and gives the tea its yellow colour, which is where it differs to green tea.

The art and tradition of processing Yellow tea lies with only few skilled tea masters and the method not widely practiced. Sadly, some techniques have been lost. There are very few yellow teas still available and found only in China. This is why Yellow tea is so rare, beautiful and often in limited production.

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Brew Time 1-3 minutes

Temp 70°C – 80°C

Green tea is minimally oxidised similarly to white tea, which retains its high level of antioxidants. It is quite easy and common to over steep green tea or use water that is too hot, which unfortunately produces a bitterness in the liquor. This has created is a misconception held by many. A good quality green tea when brewed correctly, offers a complex variety of flavour profiles, depending on the country of origin and growing conditions. The water temperature is very important.

Some high-grade green teas such as Gyokuro (a Japanese green tea), is brewed somewhere between 60°C -65°C for 1-2 minutes only, to produce smooth, delicately sweet and marine notes.

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Brew Time 1-5 Minutes

Temp 80°C – 90°C

Oolongs are a fascinating tea variety. Originally named wulong or black dragon (or Blue tea), oolong’s vary considerably in oxidation (15% to 85%), which means they fall somewhere between black and green tea. Some oolongs are richer and darker, reminiscent of black tea, while others are light and fresh, much like green tea. You will need to be mindful that the tea brewing guide will have varying steep times and water temperatures, depending on the type of oolong you are brewing. Lighter oolongs are well known for their fragrant floral or fruity notes. Darker oolongs have nutty, woody or roasty characteristics. Commonly produced in China and Taiwan, these teas have often hold mystical stories behind their names, and are rich in history. Some famous oolongs include Tieguanyin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) and Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe).

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Brew Time 2-3 min

Temp 90°C – 99°C

Black tea (also known as Red tea) comes in many varieties and grades and produced in many parts of the world. Generally, it is fine to brew at 100°C. However, we would suggest brewing it just off the boil. With some specialty and delicate black teas, you will find that 90°C is recommended. If you like to add milk to your black tea, we recommend trying it without, from time to time. Especially if you have a high quality, loose leaf specialty tea. A good Black tea will produce rich and complex flavours when enjoyed in its pure form.

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Brew Time varies

Temp 85°C – 100°C

Puerh (Dark Tea) is quite different to the tea varieties. Firstly, a majority of Puerh is found in the form of a compressed cake, less commonly in loose leaf form originating from Yunnan Province in China. Outside of the Yunnan region it is known as fermented or brick tea.

True Puerh is produced in specifically in this Yunnan region. Much like Darjeeling, produced in the Darjeeling region or champagne, produced in the champagne region in France.

Large, broad leaves plucked from wild or ancient tea trees, in old growth forests of Yunnan generally produce the authentic and unique flavours, Puerh is known for. Many of the ancient trees of this region belong to the local villagers who will pick and produce the tea by hand.

There are two kinds of Puerh in existence – Sheng Puerh and Shou Puerh.

Sheng Puerh (raw or alive)

Sheng is naturally fermented tea. After undergoing regular tea processing, the tea progresses to post-fermentation. The tea is placed in a cloth and set over steam to reintroduce a minimal amount of moisture to the leaves. It is then compressed, creating an environment for the micro-organisms to thrive. Humidity is maintained below 80% with natural warmth and good circulation.

The tea is then stored climate-controlled room to ensure these micro-organisms remain alive. The ageing and maturation process can be anywhere between approx 10 – 30 years and beyond. Over this time the flavours will develop and improve with age. Aged Puerh is very valuable and can be worth a lot of money.

Flavour is often lightly sweet or earthy, reminiscent of mushrooms, damp soil, forest rain or woody.

Shou (cooked or ripe)

Shou goes through an accelerated fermentation process. It was introduced in the 1970’s to meet the demand of the consumer and the increase in ready-to-drink tea. While Shou Puerh will mature with age, it does not hold the same quality and characteristics of Sheng Puerh.

After undergoing regular tea processing, the leaves are layered in large piles in a humid room and sprayed with mist, to begin the fermentation or “cooking” process. The leaf is turned regularly for even fermentation and the tea becomes warm inside the pile, allowing for the microbial activity to flourish. This process can take a number of months.

Once the fermentation process is complete, the leaf is dried and usually compressed into various shapes.

The flavour is rich, earthy often producing notes of leather, wood, toast or tobacco.

Puerh is known to offer significant health the benefits; believed to assist with digestion, weight loss, lowering cholesterol, rich in anti-oxidants.

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Brew 3 – 8 mins + (time varies)

Temp 100 °C

Herbal tisanes refer to any plant species that is not linked to the Camellia Sinensis tea plant. This means that herbal tea is not actually a “tea”. The only recognised tea varieties are those mentioned above.

As there are endless varieties of herbs in existence, the tea brewing guide and steep times could vary. However, most herbs can tolerate boiling water for brewing. Herbal and wellness tisanes will suggest a brewing time of 99°C -100°C.

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