How to Easily Make a Proper Cup of Tea

Making a perfect pot of tea is all in the details. Learn the proper way to make tea with my step-by-step instructions.

How to brew tea properly

A Proper Cup of Tea

As a certified Tea Sommelier, I’ve learned that when it comes to making a proper cup of tea, it’s all in the details.

And my reward? A perfect cup of tea each and every time.

For me, the joy of tea is in the ritual. The more I repeat the series of steps for brewing tea the proper way, the more I enjoy it.

Of course you can just boil some water and grab a tea bag but if you want to elevate the experience, there are a few extra steps you can take.

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Tips to Making a Proper Cup of Tea

TIP #1: Use Filtered water.
Use clean, purified water that won’t add any other taste to your tea. I always make my tea with filtered water since better the water, the better my tea will taste.

TIP #2: Set the correct water temperature.
Water temperature is a little tricky. Some tea require just boiled water while other teas are a little more sensitive to hot water (especially green tea) so you’ll need to make sure the water temperature is correct.

I use my electric kettle with temperature setting (this is a MUST for serious tea drinkers) and set the temperature for each type of tea I drink. 

For all black tea, like Earl Grey and English Breakfast, you can use hot boiling water. I set my electric kettle to 208°F.

Brew tea

TIP #3: Steep for the correct amount of time.
Oversteeping tea leads to a bitter cup. This is the time to use the timer on your phone.

Follow the steep time recommendations on the tea package, but roughly it is: black tea for 4-5 minutes, green and oolong for 3 minutes, and white tea for 4 minutes.

Once the time is up, your tea is ready to drink. Don’t leave the tea leaves sitting in water since that just makes the tea way too strong and bitter.

If you’re making a big pot of tea, use a teapot with an infuser to take out the leaves after the steep time. You can add the infuser back in the teapot if you want to steep the tea again in hot water.

TIP #4: Use the correct amount of tea.
The general rule of thumb is to steep 1 1/2 teaspoons of tea for every cup of water.

However, not all teas are the same so some may require more or less so check your tea package for the appropriate amount per cup.

My Tea Measuring Spoon Pick:

TIP #5: Use whole leaf loose tea.

I rarely use tea bags since the tea is usually not as good as whole loose tea.

Tea in tea bags are the leftover broken bits, or “tea dust,” collected after whole tea has been processed. That doesn’t sound too appealing does it?

Good quality tea is a rolled whole tea leaf. As the tea steeps, it will unfurl in the hot water and you should be able to see the entire leaf. Whole loose leaf tea is the best tea to steep.

TIP #6: Warm the teapot.
Warming the teapot helps to brew the tea properly, keeping the water temperature hot.

Pour some hot water into a teapot and swirl it around a bit, warming it up from the hot water. Throw out the water. 

Now your teapot is nice and warm, ready to brew tea.

RELATED: Want to Get into Oolong Tea? Start Here.


How to Make Tea Properly Cheat Sheet

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How to make tea

What I Use to Make Tea Properly

Steep tea

How to Make Tea Properly

STEP 1: Boil water.

Different types of tea require different water temperature to brew. Check the tea packaging to see the recommended water temperature.

Black tea is steeped in boiling hot water. Instead of boiling water on a stovetop, I use my trusty electric kettle with temperature setting and set it to 208°F.

Be sure to use the best quality water for your tea. I always use filtered water.

Brew tea

STEP 2: Warm up teapot.

This step is a detail that takes your tea to the next level and almost no one does it. But they should.

Fill half the teapot with hot water and give it a few swirls.

We’re warming the teapot so that when the hot water for tea goes in, the water temperature won’t drop too much.

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How to brew tea

Once the teapot has warmed after a few seconds, throw out the water.

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Brewing tea

STEP 3: Put tea into teapot and add hot water.

Figure out how much water your teapot holds and add the right amount of tea.

For every cup, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of tea.

You can use this Perfect Tea Measuring Spoon which will measure out 1 1/2 teaspoons.

RELATED: How to Store Tea Properly

How to brew tea

STEP 4: Cover teapot and steep tea.

Set the timer on your phone to steep it to the correct amount of time.

The steep time is different for each kind of tea so check the tea package to see what is recommended.

RELATED: Best Books on Tea

Brew tea

STEP 5: Strain tea solids and pour hot tea into tea cups.

PRO TIP: Hold onto the teapot lid with a finger so that it doesn’t fall off as you’re pouring.

Add milk or sugar if drinking oolong or black tea. Don’t add milk or sugar if you’re drinking green or white tea. (Please, no.)

I’m using a tea strainer so that I can filter out the tea leaves but if your teapot has an infuser, there’s no need for one.

I really don’t like tea leaves sitting in water after the steep time since it makes the tea really bitter. To avoid this, use a tea infuser inside a teapot so that the tea leaves are separated from the water after the first pour or make just enough tea and pour out every last drop so there isn’t any water sitting in the teapot. 

RELATED: Decadent Milk Tea with Brown Sugar

How to brew tea properly

If you want to have another cup, pour more hot water into the teapot and set the timer again. For the second steep, add 1-2 more minutes.

With these steps, you’ll enjoy a perfect cup of tea each and every time.

 
 
 
How to Make Tea Properly

How to Make Tea Properly

Yield: Makes 2 cups

Making a perfect pot of tea is all in the details. Learn the proper way to brew tea.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon loose tea

Instructions

    1. Boil water.
      Black tea is steeped in boiling hot water. I use my trusty electric kettle with temperature setting and set it to 208°F.
      Check the tea packaging to see the recommended water temperature for all other types of tea.
      (Filtered water is best.)
    2. Warm up teapot.
      Pour 1/2 cup hot water into your teapot and swirl it around to get it warm. Discard the water.
    3. Put tea into teapot and add hot water.
      Put tea and the remaining 2 cups of hot water into a teapot.
    4. Cover teapot and steep tea.
      The steep time is different for each kind of tea so check the tea package to see what's recommended.
    5. Strain tea solids and pour hot tea into tea cups.

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15 Comments

  • 7 years ago

    So enjoyed the videos. I do warm my pots and cups, but I also have to use my tea cozies, as I don't care for cold tea (unless of course, it is iced…). I have to look for the book she mentioned. I do have her molds for sugar/butter. I love them, but don't use them often as people stare at them as they are "pretty" and don't want to use them. Too funny if you ask me.

  • Jee (Oh, How Civilized)
    7 years ago

    Hi Winnie, I love pretty sugar and I agree with you, they're meant to be enjoyed/used!

  • 1 year ago

    Awesome….this perfect cup of tea for beautiful morning and i will definitely make this tea for my husband….Thanks for sharing…..!

  • Susan
    9 months ago

    When I put 16 oz of water into the teapot I don’t get enough tea for 2 cups of tea back. How much water should go into the pot to brew two 8 oz cups?

    • Oh, How Civilized
      9 months ago

      Hi Susan, try adding 2-4 oz of more water to fill the two cups.

  • 7 months ago

    I often drink tea, but I think it’s just a habit. I have not found the benefits.
    but if I don’t drink tea I feel something is missing

  • Sk anand
    5 months ago

    Super

  • Zeezee
    5 months ago

    Comment *it is really helpful,i’ll try it for my family members

  • Ashok
    4 months ago

    What should be the temperature?

    • Oh, How Civilized
      4 months ago

      Hi Ashok, the temperature depends on the tea. Most tea will come with brewing directions including water temperature on the packaging.

  • RAPHAELLE THIBAUT
    3 months ago

    Hi! Can I get the reference of the white teapot set you’re using? It’s gorgeous.

  • Melissa
    3 months ago

    In a post somewhere you mentioned steeping the tea first for less than a minute. I got my brother a rishi barrel aged Chiangmai black tea that suggested steeping it first for 45 seconds. Do you have any thoughts on that? Should I do that for other black loose teas?

    • Oh, How Civilized
      3 months ago

      The first steep isn’t really a steep but a rinse and that can be for about 15 seconds, just to wake up the leaves. After the rinse is the first steep which should be the 45 seconds for that tea. You do short steeps when you plan on doing multiple steeps. So after the first 45 second steep and you drink that tea, do another steep but add 30 seconds more to the previous steep. Drink that, and then you can do another steep adding another 30 seconds.

      You can totally do that for all other loose teas, not just black tea.

  • 4 days ago

    I do not like to drink tea, yet I take a cup after eating

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