How to Make Tea Properly

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

Making a Proper Cup of Tea

It’s all about the details when it comes to making a perfect cup of tea.

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

How do you make tea properly?

  • Warm the tea pot and teacups.
  • Use cold filtered water.
  • Setting the correct water temperature for your tea.
  • Using 1 1/2 teaspoons of tea per cup.
  • Steeping whole leaf tea or high quality tea.
  • Setting the timer to steep the tea for the right amount of time.

And my reward? A perfect pot 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.

There are many ways to make a cup of tea using different vessels but the easiest is in a teapot.

The other methods use country-specific steeping pots or cups like gaiwan (Chinese) or yixing teapot (Chinese), or kyusu (Japanese). There is a bit of technique and formality to using each of these vessels so it’s not as easy to use as a simple teapot.

RELATED: Green Tea Starter Guide

Water for Tea

I like to use filtered water for tea. Use clean, cold water that won’t add any other taste to your tea.

Water Temperature

Water that has come to a gentle boil is best for black and oolong tea. For green and white tea, go for a lower temperature (simmered water).

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Amount of Tea to Steep

The general rule of thumb is to steep 1 1/2 teaspoons of tea for every cup of water.

If you want to get fancy and use a scale, weigh out 3 grams of tea for each cup.

Best Tea to Steep

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

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

Brew tea

Steep 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 usually steeps 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 tea filter to take out the leaves after the steep time. You can add the filter back in the teapot if you want to steep the tea again in hot water.

How to make tea

How to Make Tea Properly Cheat Sheet

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Steep tea

How to Make Tea Properly

I’ll walk you through each step to make the perfect pot of tea.

STEP 1: Boil water.

Each type of tea has a different water temperature it’s best to steep to steep the tea in to get the best flavor. Check the tea packaging to see the recommended water temperature.

(I use my trusty electric kettle which has a temperature setting to make sure I’m brewing tea properly.)

RELATED: Tea Brewing Guide for Beginners

Brew tea

STEP 2: Warm up teapot and tea cups.

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

Fill the teapot and tea cups halfway 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 so much.

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How to brew tea

Once the teapot has warmed, throw out the water.

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How to make tea

Do the same for the tea cups to make them warm by pouring some hot water into the cups then throwing out the water.

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.

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How to brew tea

STEP 4: 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 they recommend.

Brew tea

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

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.

If you want to use a tea strainer that comes inside a teapot, find one that’s big enough so that the leaves have plenty of room to steep.

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 filter inside a teapot so that the tea leaves are separated from the water after the first pour.

In my case, I made just enough tea for two cups and knew no tea would be sitting in water in the teapot.

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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.


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon loose tea


    1. Boil water.
    2. Warm up teapot and cups.
      Pour a bit of hot water into your teapot and tea cups and swirl it around to make sure the it gets warm. Discard the water.
    3. Put tea into teapot and add hot water
      For every cup, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of tea.
    4. 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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  • 6 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)
    6 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
    8 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
      8 months ago

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

  • 5 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
    4 months ago


  • Zeezee
    4 months ago

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

  • Ashok
    3 months ago

    What should be the temperature?

    • Oh, How Civilized
      3 months ago

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

    2 months ago

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

  • Melissa
    2 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
      2 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.

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