Steeping Chart By Tea Type
The following information should be used as a practical guide to steeping various types of teas. However, within each Tea Type are countless variables that may influence optimal brewing methods. Everything from the shape of the dried leaf (e.g., pearl, needle, nugget, twisted leaf, etc.) to the amount of oxidation and even the method used to de-enzyme the fresh leaf (e.g., pan-fired, steamed, etc.), will influence how a tea should be steeped. After all of those aspects have been taken into consideration, at the end of the day, what matters most is what tastes best to you! Feel free to use this guide as a starting point and then adjust based on your personal taste. If ever in doubt, give us a shout and we'll be glad to offer additional suggestions.
|TEA TYPE||TEMP (F)||TIME (Min)||RE-STEEPS|
|GREEN (pure leaf, deep steamed)||160||30 sec||2-3|
|GREEN (pure leaf, light steamed)||175||1-2||2-3|
|OOLONG (greener style)||185||2||4+|
|OOLONG (darker style)||185||3||4+|
|BLACK (lighter style)||185||2-3||2-3|
|BLACK (darker style)||205||3-4||2-3|
|PU-ERH (raw/sheng) Pre-rinse suggested||175||1-2||5+|
|PU-ERH (dark/shou) Pre-rinse suggested||205||2-3+||5+|
|YERBA MATE (pure)||175||2||3-4|
|YERBA MATE (blend)||185||2-3||2-3|
For cold-brewing information, see our Iced Tea page.
When steeping tightly wound tea leaves such as a Ti Kwan Yin or Four Seasons Oolong, the initial infusions will be soft and light. We call the first steep or two "wake up" infusions as the leaf becomes rehydrated and starts to unfurl. It will take a couple of infusions (steeps) to fully reveal the full array of flavors contained within the leaf.
We encourage you to start small, steeping only the amount needed for one small serving. Then, enjoy successive infusions of the leaf to find the perfect cup for you, noting the changes in flavor over the repeated infusions.
Steeping Pu-erh Teas
When steeping pure leaf pu-erh teas, it is recommended that you employ a pre-rinse of the leaves. Often, the first two initial steeps or pre-rinses are discarded while the leaves of the pu-erh just begin to rehydrate. For some pu-erh teas, it is not until the third or fourth steep that the tea really starts to reveal its characteristics more fully in the cup. Here is an example of steps taken to steep a compressed pu-erh cake, button or mini-bowl. Loose leaf style pure leaf pu-erhs should undergo the same pre-rinse routine.
1. Prepare the pu-erh leaf for brewing by unwrapping the compressed mini-bowl or button or by breaking off a desired amount from a pu-erh cake using a pu-erh knife. For loose leaf pu-erh teas, simply measure out 3g leaf per 8 oz water.
2. Rinse the leaf using 185-210F water for 10-20 seconds to start the re-hydration process and to rid the aged leaf of potential impurities.
3. Using a pu-erh knife or similar object, break into the bowl or compressed leaves to help loosen them for a good infusion.
4. Following pre-rinse, discard the resulting liquor.
5. Add hot water to vessel to begin first full steep.
6. Once allotted steeping time has passed, you may choose to once again discard the liquor or you may consume your first cup of tea.
7. The leaves may then be re-steeped several more times to reveal their full potential.
Alternative Steeping Tool: The French Press
Check out the brief video tutorial for tips on what to do or not do when using a press-style vessel to brew up your favorite tea.
- Measure out leaves and place in vessel
- Add water of recommended temperature based on tea type
- Place lid on vessel and leave plunger at raised level
- Once steeped for appropriate amount of time, depress plunger
- Dispense all brewed liquid so as to not oversleep the remaining leaves
- Enjoy your freshly brewed tea
- And, don't forget to save those leaves for a second or third steep once you've enjoyed your initial brew
Enjoy the Benefit of Multiple Steeps (Re-Steeps)
One of the benefits of high quality loose leaf tea is the ability to enjoy multiple infusions of the leaf. As seen in the chart at the top of the page, pure leaf teas of certain types might yield upwards of five or more steeps! The following are a few tips regarding re-steeping.
- Pure leaf teas typically re-steep better than blended teas
- Fruit pieces and spices added to blends will yield less and less of their potency in successive steeps
- To get the most out of re-steeping herbal and/or fruit-only teas, add an additional minute or two to the steep time for each successive steep
- Some tightly wound teas such nugget-style oolongs or pu-erh buttons will often yield more intensity over the course of multiple infusions
- Caffeine level (if any) will decrease over the course of each successive steep allowing you to enjoy more cups throughout the day without overdoing it on the buzz factor