April 16 2021 – Diana L
How much loose leaf tea per cup?
Not sure how to measure loose leaf tea? The tea industry agrees a good rule of thumb is to use 1 teaspoon of tea per six ounces of water. This is the average size of a teacup. However, some teas are dense, and some are fluffy. What if you want to brew loose leaf tea for a large mug? How do you adjust the amount of loose leaf tea?
What is the right amount of loose tea per cup?
To measure the right amount of tea, start with a perfect teaspoon. The key is consistency, so use the same spoon each time as you determine your preferred strength.
Teas that are fluffy such as white, herbal, and oolong may require a heaping teaspoon (or maybe even two teaspoons). The same applies if you prefer your tea on the stronger side. Add more tea to intensify the flavor; steeping the tea longer will not - rather, it could result in a bitter cup.
Water temperature and steeping time each play an important role in creating the flavor in your cup:
Common mistakes made when brewing tea
Mistake 1: Using the wrong water temperature
The temperature of the water is very crucial and varies depending on the type of tea. You may remember your Mom putting the teapot on the stove and awaiting the screech announcing that the water was "ready" to pour over her tea bag. In reality, for most teas, it was too late.
If you are a tea newbie, you will be amazed at the difference in the flavors that are released by using the right water temperature when brewing tea. Different tea varieties release the polyphenols (or tannins) at different temperatures, which can alter the flavor caused by an over-extraction or under-extraction of these tannins.
For tea brewing, it is best to start with fresh, filtered cold water. Added chlorine or other minerals and sediment that may be found in tap water can affect the true flavors of your tea.
Using water that is too hot (screeching hot) is called "burning" the tea. This means the tannins have been over-extracted, causing green and white tea to become astringent. Studies have shown that water that is too hot may also destroy the health-promoting compounds in tea such as catechins.
If you use water that is not hot enough, then your tea will lack its full flavor potential due to the under-extraction. Boiling water and then letting it cool, hoping to reach the right temperature, removes oxygen from the water, decreasing the resulting flavor of the tea.
The optimal temperature for herbal teas is much higher than a delicate white or green tea. Herbal teas do not contain tannins which is why they can handle the higher hot water temperature. Using a lower temperature for delicate white and green teas keeps the leaves from losing their flavor due to over-processing. Use this quick chart to find the proper water temperature for your favorite tea:
- Green tea 150-175°F
- White tea 175-185°F
- Black tea 205°F
- Oolong tea 195°F
- Rooibos tea 205°F
- Herbal tea 212°F
It's really simple to achieve the right temperature if you have an electric kettle with temperature control. If not, just remember the rule of thumb that water simmers at 190°F, so for green tea keep the water just below a simmer. The teapot "screech" indicated that the water was a full boil, and at sea level, this means 212°F, so hopefully, your mom was steeping herbal tea!
Mistake 2: Not steeping the tea for the right amount of time
Steeping time allows the loose tea leaves to diffuse and release the unique aroma and flavors of the tea. The steeping process begins the instant you pour heated water over the tea leaves.
Our general rule of thumb for steeping time:
- Green tea 3-4 minutes
- White tea 7-9 minutes
- Black tea 3 minutes
- Oolong tea 3-6 minutes
- Rooibos tea 3-5 minutes
- Herbal tea 5-8 minutes
A common mistake is to steep tea longer in search of stronger flavors. Oversteeping can simply lead to bitterness. So it's crucial to use the proper steeping times for each type of tea.
If you are looking for a stronger flavor in your cup of tea, then add more tea instead of more time. Or likewise, if you prefer a lighter flavor, reduce the amount of tea.
If you don't have a perfect teaspoon just for tea, you will be playing a bit of a measuring guessing game. Tableware spoons will not give you a consistent measure. So make sure you have all the right tools, and you'll enjoy the perfect cup of tea every time.