It’s a question we’re often asked. “How long do I steep my tea?”
The answer is both simple and complex. The simple answer is, “Steep it as long as you like.” But if it’s your first time drinking a particular tea, it’s nice to have a frame of reference to know where to start. We’ll focus on steeping tea bags, rather than loose leaf teas.
These guidelines are useful for the majority of teas you can easily find at your grocery store, for example, Wegman’s Just Tea offers a wide variety of tea from black and green to rooibos and herbals. Their steeping instructions are a solid benchmark.
Black Tea, like English or Irish Breakfast Tea. (Even flavored black teas like Earl Grey or Cinnamon Spice black tea)
Start by bringing water to a full boil, steep the tea bag for 3 minutes, then taste. If you would like it to be stronger, steep for another minute. Taste again. There’s no absolute right or wrong answer. The bolder you like your beverage, the longer you’ll want to steep it. Some prefer the stronger, bolder flavor, while other like to soften the bold flavor with sugar and milk. The risk of steeping it too long will result in a bitter flavor.
While some brands of chai recommend a longer steeping (up to 10 minutes!), the same general guideline applies. Steep for 3 minutes, then taste it. Steep another minute or two and taste it again. Once you’ve experimented with a cup or two, you’ll find your particular preference and it will no longer be a guessing game.
Rooibos and Herbals
Bring water to a full boil. These types of infusions may generally be steeped in the same time frame as black teas. Steep for 3 minutes and then taste. For increased strength, steep for another minute and taste again.
Green teas are generally recommended to be steeped at a slightly lower temperature than black teas. One easy way to achieve this is to bring water to a boil, then let it sit for one full minute before steeping the green tea. The steeping time may be less as well. Start by steeping for 1 minute, then taste it. For a bolder brew, steep for an additional minute, taste and repeat until the desired strength is achieved.
Like green teas, white teas are generally recommended to be steeped at lower temperatures. Bring water to a boil, then let it sit for a minute to a minute and a half. Steep for one minute, then taste. If you would like a stronger brew, steep for another minute and taste again.
As you steep your tea, you’ll begin to develop a sense of how you like your tea. Some people enjoy bolder, stronger flavors, while others like a subtle taste. Your preferences are what they are, and that’s one of the wonderful pleasures of tea. You can have it your way, every day.