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How To Steep Loose Tea

How Long Does Loose Tea Last

How To Steep Loose Tea

Loose teas shelf life is impressively long, which makes sense given its origin. Loose leaf teas far predate tea bags and single-serving infusers, harking all the way back to ancient China and India. There, tea farmers tightly packed loose leaf tea into bricks or cakes for transport from the estates where they were grown and processed to faraway lands. Ultimately, the packed tea was stored in cool, dry places and delicately chipped away at, serving by serving, until fully consumed. Today, Tea Forté continues the tradition of offering high-quality blends hand-selected from the finest producers, but our loose tea is carefully packaged in luxury containers for safe long-term storage, maintaining freshness and full flavor for two or three years . Our exceptional tea experience begins with handcrafted, uncommon, limited-availability teas, cultivated in just the right place at just the right time. We travel thousands of miles to procure fine whole leaves, resulting in loose leaf offerings that are distinctive, memorable and always worthy of a second cupful. To explore Tea Fortés collection of loose tea, consider our Single Steeps Samplers to try an array of flavor profiles, or head straight for your favorite blend in a signature Loose Leaf Tea Canister.

All of our 60+ Loose Leaf Tea Canisters are recyclable and USDA Organic certified.

How To Brew Loose Leaf Tea

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All you really need to prepare loose leaf tea is hot water, the leaves themselves, and a tea strainer. However, each type of tea requires slightly different steeping techniques. For the best cup, follow the recommended measurements, water temperature, and steeping time outlined on the package of tea. Experiment with different quantities of tea or steeping durations. Finally, add in your favorite sweetener or milk for a soothing cup of tea that really hits the spot.

Start With Fresh Ingredients

If youre making an herbal tea from fresh ingredients, such as herbs or ginger or turmeric root, its best to use them shortly after theyre cut or purchased.

Dried tea leaves have a long shelf life when kept dry in an airtight container and out of direct light. However, extended storage times may negatively affect the quality, flavor, and aroma .

True teas contain polyphenol antioxidant compounds called catechins, theaflavins, and thearubigins. Theyre responsible for many of teas health benefits but degrade over time .

Researchers who monitored the antioxidants in green tea stored at 68°F found that catechin levels were reduced by 32% after 6 months .

The quality of your water also affects the flavor of your tea. Tap water high in minerals or treated with chlorine will impart an off-flavor, so ideally, you should use fresh, cold, and filtered water when brewing.


The tastiest and healthiest cup of tea starts with quality ingredients and fresh, cold, and filtered water. Dried tea has a long shelf life, but over time, it loses some of its flavor, aroma, and health-promoting antioxidants.

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Before You Start: How To Steep Tea

Tea is created from a tea plant, which is processed and dried into loose tea leaves or in bags. Herbal tea is not made from leaves, but with unopened flower stems, buds and roots. All of these tea products should be steeped.

When you steep tea, the water extracts flavor from the leaves to prepare the drink. When steeping loose-leaf tea, you’ll need an infuser or kettle teapot. For steeping a tea bag, a six-ounce cup is recommended. Drinking tea that has been ;properly stored will give you the freshest taste after steeping.

How Long Should Loose Leaf Tea Steep

A guide to brewing loose leaf tea
Taryn NugentMay 11, ’21

This question goes hand in hand with can I boil tea leaves or can I pour boiling water over tea its all about brewing instructions. Many are so worried when they first try loose leaf tea about getting things right. While Ill go into some technicalities on this and explain the ideal way in the industry to prepare each tea, its important to keep something in mind: theres no right way to brew tea.

Tea is right if it tastes good and taste is subjective. Experiment, use trial and error, and find a way to enjoy the tea. This means you can even add things to it like milks, creamers, sweeteners, or even alcohol. Tea is meant to be enjoyed and theres a wide variety of ways to do that.;

Steeping Lengths

So firstly, the length of steeping. If youre wanting a generally good rule of thumb, loose leaf can be enjoyed by steeping for 2-8 minutes if brewing hot. Conversely, prebagged teas tend to dump their contents and steep within 1 minute and get bitter if left in longer than that. A good, visual, rule of thumb to go by is: wait until the leaves completely unfurl. If youre brewing herbal tea thats going to be more difficult because there likely arent any leaves, so youll need to go by taste instead.

Herbal tea basically cant be over-steeped . So, for these ones, you really have to try it at each stage. To get the true taste of all of the ingredients, we recommend a 5-8 minute steep on our herbal teas.;

Steeping Temperatures

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How To Brew Loose Leaf Black Tea And Herbal Infusions

  • For our loose black tea and loose herbal infusions, bring spring or freshly drawn filtered water to a boil .
  • In your chosen vessel, place the tea either directly in the pot or inside an infuser . In general, we recommend one teaspoon of tea per 8 ounce cup.
  • Pour the water just off boil directly on the tea leaves, also known as bringing water to tea. Since black tea and herbals lend themselves best to a strong, indulgent experience, pouring the water directly over the leaves encourages an aggressive extraction.
  • Allow the leaves to steep for 5 minutes.;
  • After 5 minutes, remove and discard the tea by removing the infuser or pouring the water and leaves through a strainer.
  • Tea Ball And Tea Infusers

    Alternatively, you can use a tea ball or infuser when brewing. A tea ball is a hollow ball into which you place your tea leaves before pouring hot water on top for steeping. Tea balls and infusers are typically made of metal, most commonly stainless steel.

    Make sure to leave space in your infuser or tea ball so that the leaves can expand and release flavors. If you pack it too full, your tea will be watery and have little flavor.

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    How To Steep Loose Leaf Tea Mistakes To Avoid

    Proper brewing makes a good tea stand out. Although pouring hot water over loose leaf tea sounds very easy, there are a lot of things you should pay attention to when brewing your tea, if you want it to taste delicious. Becoming a tea master is a matter or time and practice and not something you can learn from books. We highly recommend experimenting with all tea types. If you have recently discovered loose leaf tea, this article should give you an overview of the basic brewing mistakes to avoid, teach you how to steep loose leaf tea and get you ready for experimenting.

    Do: Finish With A Cold Steep

    How to Steep Full-Leaf Loose Tea and Herbs

    If your leaves are still going strong after your last cup of tea for the day, transfer them to a pitcher of cold water and leave them in the fridge overnight to make a refreshing iced tea. The long, cold infusion will draw out every last bit of flavour, without extracting any bitter or astringent compounds. This is the best way to make sure youre getting the most from every tea leaf!;

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    Utensils For Brewing Tea In A Teapot

    A good teapot, a strainer and a nice tea cups are all you need for a proper tea session. Avoid old teaware with unknown residues and invest more in a piece that will last for years. Volume, material and type will make brewing tea either very easy or very difficult. The best teapot for one person is usually around 200-400 ml. Our choice is a Japanese kyusu with a removable mesh because its easy to clean and handle, will last for years, and you can use it to brew almost any loose leaf tea. If you are a beginner, avoid tea vessels without handles.

    If your teapot doesnt have a built-in strainer, you will also need a strainer. Keep your teapots clean and empty the leaves after brewing.

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    How Long Does Tea Last?

    You may be wondering whether that old box of tea in my cupboard is still drinkable? The answer is probably yes. Different teas last for different amounts of time but generally, tea takes a while to go stale and tasteless.

    How long does teavana tea last then? Well, it depends. In most cases,; unflavored teas have a longer life than flavored teas.

    Flavored teas and herbal teas are best within six months to a year if the package has been opened. After that, you can still drink them, but the flavors will start to dissipate. You can tell because the scent wont be as strong, the tea leaves and herbs will begin to fade, and the tea just wont taste the way you remember.

    Fear not! There is nothing to be worried about when it comes to drinking old tea. It wont hurt you it just wont taste great either. So, make sure you store your tea properly and take some out to brew every now and then to see how the flavor has developed.

    Unflavored green and black teas are usually good for up to 18 months, while most oolongs are generally best within two years. White and pu-erh teas can age extremely well; may people age them on purpose with the goal of enriching their flavor.

    Over time, loose leaf tea will mature and the breadth of flavor may expand. However, as we have mentioned the tea will lose its potency after a while. It is best to take advantage of the tea at its peak and not hang on to exposed leaves for more than a year.

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    Sieving The Tea Leaves

    As most people have a sieve in their kitchen, this is an easy way to brew when you dont have an infuser at home.

    Brew the loose leaf as your normally would in a cup or mug. Once brewed, grab another mug and place the sieve on top of it. If the sieve is much larger than the mug, youll have to keep hold of it when pouring.

    Pour the cup with the brewed tea into the clean mug. You will now have a finely filtered cup of fresh tea.

    How Long To Steep Purple Tea

    Steeping Full

    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.

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    Dig Through Your Kitchen Drawers For A Suitable Replacement

    Anyone with a well-stocked kitchen is sure to have a strainer somewhere. Its a cooking essential that you or someone you know is bound to have.

    While it might not be meant for straining loose-leaf teas, it does a perfectly good job of it.

    Youll also need a tea pot or two mugs for this to be a success. Once you have everything you need, place the tea leaves in the mug or tea pot and let it steep.

    Follow up by pouring over the strainer and into a clean mug. If you dont have a strainer, you can follow this same method by using a cheesecloth, which works just as well.

    Benefits Of Making Tea With Cold Water

    If youre new to making cold brew iced tea, you probably have a few questions. For example, you may be wondering why so many people, including myself, say that cold brew tea is the best way to make iced tea.

    Additionally, you may be wondering the benefits of cold brew tea.

    In a nutshell, cold brewing tea is the perfect technique since the steps are foolproof, the flavor is smooth and complex, and the process may improve some nutritional benefits.

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    Follow Water Temperatures For Each Tea

    Water temperature plays an important role when making a good cup of tea because the flavours a tea releases will differ at certain temperatures.

    If the water is too hot, you risk burning the tea leaves and creating a bitter cup of tea.

    If the water is too cold, you risk not letting the tea leaves infuse properly and creating a weak cup of tea.

    A variable temperature kettle is super handy as you can control the temperature. This is helpful because the perfect temperate depends on the type of tea you are making. The water temperatures can vary and I recommend following the suggestions that come with the loose leaf tea first.

    Most tea companies should include ideal water temperatures with their steeping instructions on the tea label. However, below is a standard tea steeping guide.

    Please note the above is just a guideline and is most ideal for western style brewing. Water temperatures will vary depending on the exact tea and ingredients if its a blend. For instance, matcha is a green tea but it is actually recommended to use water that is heated to around 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

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    How can I heat water to the correct temperature for tea without a variable temperature kettle?

    If you dont have a variable temperature kettle, boil the water and let it sit uncovered for the appropriate time listed below. You can also check the temperature with a kitchen thermometer.

    Can I use a microwave to heat the water for tea?

    What Is Western Style Tea Brewing

    How to Steep Loose Leaf Tea

    Throughout this loose leaf tea steeping guide youll see me referring to this steeping method as western style. This is an easy steeping method that is used in a lot of households, restaurants, cafes, etc.

    If you typically prepare tea with tea bags, youre most likely already steeping western style. Preparing loose leaf tea with this method is fairly simple too.

    In comparison to other steeping methods like gongfu style, western style uses a lower tea leaf to water ratio. The steeping times are also much longer. This allows the tea drinker to extract as much flavour possible at once.

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    Aluminum Foil: Not Just For Saving Leftovers

    Aluminum foil is one of those materials that is easy to manipulate. You can mold it into just about any shape that you can imagine.

    The good news is that you can also mold it into a tea infuser when youre lacking one. All you need to do is roll your loose-leaf tea into an aluminum foil ball and then poke holes in it.

    Once youve done that, you can pour water over it and let it steep.

    Select A Tea And Put It In A Glass Jar

    The first step to make cold brew iced tea is to select a tea and put it in a jar with water.

    Loose tea is the preferred choice since its large leaves produce the most flavor as they unfurl in the water. However, you can also cold brew tea sachets which contain fairly big pieces of tea or tea bags.

    Tea bags are considered the lowest quality of the bunch, though you still can cold brew them.

    Regarding type of tea, anything goesblack, green, white, herbal, oolong and so on.

    And if youre like me and enjoy a perfectly made cup of hot black tea, guess what? With cold brew you dont have to worry about watching a tea timer or excessive bitterness.

    Suggested amount of tea to use per cup of water:

    Type of Tea
    2 4

    The amount of tea you use to make cold brew iced tea depends on the way the tea is packaged and how concentrated you want the tea to be.

    Ready to Drink Iced Tea: For ready to drink tea, the basic formula is to use about 1.5 times the amount of tea per cup of water than you normally would. For instance, if the tea package calls for 1 teaspoon of tea per 8 ounces of water for hot brew, then use 1.5 teaspoons for cold brew.

    Cold Brew Tea Concentrate:

    Tea concentrate is just stronger tea, usually double strength.

    With it you can create some really fun and flavorful drinks. All you have to do is combine tea concentrate with another drink using a 1 to 1 ratio.

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    Do: Steep For Shorter Times

    To better control the flavour of the brew, a slower steep time is always a good practice. Shorter steeps will extract great flavour without the bitterness as compounds like polyphenols and methylxanthines are among the slowest to infuse into any cup. Depending on the tea, we highly recommend limiting the following infusions for 30 seconds to 3 minutes for a well-rounded flavour without the astringent taste.


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