Suggestions for Steeping Tea

October 03, 2020

These are general guidelines for steeping tea, but it can be fun to play around with steeping time, amount of tea leaf, and water temperature. We encourage you to experiment and find the right way to make tea for you.  Please think of any suggestions given below as a possible starting point - meant for you to improvise and depart from as you learn more about what you like.

Because tea leaf size is so incredibly variable, tea is best measured in terms of weight instead of volume—for example ‘a teaspoon full’ is not as accurate as ‘2 grams.’ For western teapot style preparation, use 2 to 3 grams of tea for every 6 to 8 oz of water that your teapot holds.

If you don’t have a scale to weigh your tea, then on average a teaspoon is about 2 grams of tea. For white or otherwise very fluffy teas, 2 grams is more or less 1 tablespoon. If the tea is in smaller pieces (like many Japanese teas) or balls (like gunpowder and jasmine pearls), you’ll want to slightly decrease the amount of tea that you use to approximately 3/4 teaspoon. If you’re unsure of the best amount of tea to use, we urge you to err on the side of stronger tea because you can always add water to your tea if it’s too strong, but tea that is too weak is not so nice.

For gong fu style tea preparation, a good starting place is 1 gram of tea for every 20 ml of water that your steeping vessel holds. Some teas like to be leafed heavier and some lighter, but 1 gram per 20 ml of water is a good place to begin. Much of the fun of gong fu tea is getting to know the specific tea you’re steeping (as well as your preferences generally) through experimentation.

For iced tea preparation, follow the suggestions for making western style tea, but use half the amount of hot water. When your tea has finished steeping and you have removed the leaves, add the other half of the water as icy cold water.


Black Tea
Western method: water at or just under a boil, 4 minutes for unflavored teas
and 3 minutes for flavored teas
Gong Fu method: water at or just under a boil, typically start with a rinse and then 10 to 15 second initial steep, a flash steep, and then add time as desired for subsequent steeps


Green Tea (except Japanese Greens)
Western method: water between 170 and 180, 2 to 3 minutes
for unflavored teas and 2 minutes for flavored teas
Gong Fu method: water around 175 to 185, typically start with rinse and then 10 (up to 15) second initial steep, a flash steep, and then add time as desired for subsequent steeps

Japanese Green Tea
note: generally one uses more tea leaf when preparing
Japanese teas because the water is so cool and/or the steep time
is very short
Gyokuro Western Method: water at 155 to 165, 1 min
Gyokuro Traditional Method: water at 120 to 130, 2 min
using 5 grams of leaf for 50 ml of water
Light Steamed Sencha: water at 160 to 175, 1 min
Deep Steamed Sencha: water at 160 to 175, 45 seconds to 1 min
Houjicha: water at boiling, 15 to 30 seconds OR
alternatively try water at 180 for 2 to 3 minutes
Kukicha: water at 180 for 1 or 2 min


White Tea
Western method: for unflavored white teas there are two main approaches
#1 use water at 180 to 195  for 3 minutes
#2 use water at a boil for 4 to 7 minutes. This
method will give you a much more robust tea

For flavored white teas use water at 180 for 2 min

Gong Fu method: depending on your preference, use water
around 185 all the way up to water at a boil. If using cooler
water steep a little longer, if hotter water steep very quickly —
somewhere between 5 to 20 seconds depending on the
temperature of your water


Oolong Tea
Western method: water between 190 to 205, 3 minutes
Gong Fu method: water between 195 to 205 (although some
steep greener oolongs at 185 to 190), typically start
with rinse and then 10 to 15 second initial steep, a flash
steep, and then add time as desired for subsequent steeps


Puerh & Heicha
Western method: not recommended for raw puerh but generally good for ripe puerh teas and heicha which like very hot water and are also very forgiving (so steep for 2 - 3 minutes or more with 205 - 210 water)
Gong Fu method: water at a boil, always start with a rinse  (sometimes two rinses for ripe puerh), 5 to 10 second initial steep, a flash steep, and then add time as desired for subsequent steeps


Tisane - Herbs, Flowers, Fruits
Western method: water at a boil, 5 minutes
(except Yerba Maté uses 180 degree water for 5 minutes)