I can and will give you a good ‘average’ tea steeping time for the five types of tea in this world. That been said, I encourage everyone to go grab their white lab coats, heat up some water, get out the clip board and start experimenting! The question of ‘how long to steep tea’ truly is a question with a different answer for everyone and every tea. Remember it is TEA, your style and not anyone else’s 😉
Recommended time to steep each type of tea.
White tea – 5 minutes in water 180°F or 82°C.
Green tea – 2 minutes in water 160°F or 60°C
Oolong tea – 2 minutes in water 190°F or 87°C
Black tea – 4 minutes in water 200°F or 93°C
Pu-erh tea – 4 minutes in water 200°F or 93°C
Notice how Black and Pu-reh teas are the same? This is because Pu-reh teas are a sub-category of black teas which have been aged. They are like a fine wine in the world of tea. They are also the only teas which can handle boiling water, making them somewhat easier to steep.
We must stress that this is a very simple set of guidelines not only because there are many variables that will come in to play when steeping tea but also because we all like our tea a little different. They are though, a perfect starting point for all tea lovers!
Simple methods for getting water to an optimal steeping temperature
Wouldn’t it be easier to just boil some water and let it sit for a few minutes before pouring it over my tea? …. Well, yes. Sometimes we may be at a friends house or at work and we won’t have all our tools for preparing that perfect cup of tea. These are the most accurate times for letting boiled water sit before adding it to your tea.
White tea – Boiling water should be left for 3 minutes.
Green tea – Boiling water should be left for 5 minutes.
Oolong tea – Boiling water should be left for 2 minutes.
Black tea – Boiling water should be left for 45 seconds.
Pu-erh tea – Boiling water can be used.
Another accurate way to tell just how hot your water is, is to watch the bubbles. The bubbles are telling the story of how hot your water is and using them as a temperature gauge is a pretty cool trick!
White tea – 180°F or 82°C. Tiny bubbles will be forming around the base of your pot.
Green tea – 160°F or 60°C. No bubbles yet, the indicator is a light amount of steam rising from the water.
Oolong tea – 2 minutes in water 190°F or 87°C. Many bubbles will be dancing at the base of your pot with a few tiny ones rising to the surface.
Black tea – 4 minutes in water 200°F or 93°C. The bubbles will be jumping from the bottom of the pot and rising to the surface.
Pu-erh tea – 4 minutes in water 200°F or 93°C. You can allow the water to boil. The bubbles will be trying to jump out it’s so hot!
Why steep your tea?
Whole tea leaves are the bomb! and getting them at their most natural state is a sure way to make sure they are as full of flavour and nutrients as possible. Adding hot water to whole tea leaves ensures you use every available part of the leaf to maximum effect. The stems, which contain the highest amount of L-theanine (perfect for combating stress) and the leaf itself which contains all the antioxidants.
Steeped tea is the original tea preparing method, Everyone from China to India and all over Japan brew their tea this way. This tells us that it must be a pretty good way to prepare ones tea. Not only will you feel more immersed in your tea brewing practice, you will also be unlocking the full benefits of your tea and that sounds pretty good to us.
All the best and all the tea,