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Steeping
guide

How To Steep
Any Premium Tea

Steeping tea like a seasoned professional is a skill, but one that’s approachable and rewarding right from the start. If you’re interested in learning the tea steeping ropes, you’ve come to the right place.

When steeped well, tea can be ripe with fresh flavor, crisp with a soothing acidity, refreshingly sweet, and creamy. When steeped poorly, the flavors break down into an indistinguishable mush, the sweetness fades away, harsh bitterness arises, and everything good and pleasant about the tea disappears into oblivion.

You’re not interested in bad, bitter tea. You’re after premium, ethical tea that’s brewed with precision and skill. You’re after tea that’s bursting with flavor, that compliments your lifestyle, and that will help you accomplish your health goals. Here’s how you can achieve it.

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What You Need To Get Started

Your tea can only be as good as the leaves you buy, so always start with fresh, premium grade tea leaves.

You’re in luck, because that’s our speciality.
Our tea subscription offers the opportunity to taste multiple teas per month, which is great for learning about tea and honing in your tea brewing.

Find a source of clean, tasty water and a kettle to heat it up. If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, don’t use it (tea is 99% water, after all).
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A timer is essential for precise steeping times, as well as a thermometer for brewing with ideal water temperatures.
With your tea, water, timer, and thermometer on hand, there’s one more choice to make before proceeding with the brewing.

Two Tea Steeping
Processes

Tea steeping around the world has evolved into two primary methods: Western and Eastern styles.
They both have their advantages and inconveniences, so choose whichever method best suits your circumstance and lifestyle.

Eastern Style Tea Steeping

Tea steeping in the East takes a few different forms, but the most common method uses a small ceramic cup with a loose lid, called a gaiwan.

Here’s a typical gaiwan method:

- 5g of tea to 100g of water
- Preheat gaiwan
- Throw out the first 10 second steep (on some teas)
- Steep for 15 seconds
- Add 5 seconds every subsequent steep
With this method, you use a large amount of leaves and a small amount of water. The steeping times are very short (usually 10-30 seconds) and frequent. It’s an involved process, but it allows you to taste the tea as it changes and transforms over 5 to 15 different infusions, allowing you to become intimate with a particular tea’s sensory experience.
If you’re fascinated by tea and have the time to invest into one for a long sitting, Eastern style steeping is a great way to dive in. However, it’s not the best way to make a solid cup to go. For that, you’ll want to try out the next method.

Western Style Tea Steeping

Teapots of all shapes, sizes, and materials are the vessels that drive the Western style of tea steeping.

Here’s a common Western style method:

- 2.5g of tea (about 1tsp) per 225ml of water
- Preheat teapot
- Steep tea for 2-5 minutes
- When it’s finished, pour it out
- Add 30 seconds every subsequent steep
This method can brew any size batch of tea you would like, but takes several minutes to do so. Instead of using a lot of tea leaves and just a little time, you use only a few tea leaves a lot of time.
While the Western style makes brewing a big pot for continual sipping or a mug to go a simple ordeal, it takes a heavier toll on the leaves than Eastern style brewing. Instead of offering a dozen or more steeps, the leaves will only be at their prime for two or three. You get a larger batch, but the sensory experience isn’t as diverse or drawn out.

How To Steep
Specific Tea Types

Even though pu-erh, black, oolong, green, yellow, and white tea all come from the same plant, they thrive under unique circumstances. If you want to experience everything your premium tea has to offer, you need to charm it with the proper steeping time and water temperature.
Firstly, take note of the tea leaves themselves. Large tea leaves require a longer steep than cut or small leaves. Rolled or twisted leaves often require a short, undrank infusion called a ‘Flash Rinse’ to awaken the leaves and allow all the flavors to be released.
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These are some industry standard guidelines for steeping different types of tea. Since no two teas steep the exact same way, I encourage you to play around and make small adjustments with your recipe. Part of the fun is becoming intimate with how a tea brews and tastes, so don’t be afraid to explore.

Black Tea

This tea type requires an extreme steeping environment to pull out the full realm of flavor contained within the leaves. For example, the black tea steep time can be as high as five minutes, which is unmatched by the other tea types with the exceptions of Pu-erh and Herbal.

90-100 Celsius
WESTERN 3-5 Minutes +30 seconds every steep
EASTERN 10 seconds +30 seconds every steep

Oolong Tea

The oolong type is the biggest of the pure tea categories, so steeping recipes can be quite diverse. Darker colored (more oxidized) oolongs will thrive under conditions closer to those of black tea. Lighter colored (less oxidized) oolongs will thrive when brewing conditions moreso resemble those of green tea.

85-95 Celsius
WESTERN 2-4 Minutes +30 seconds every steep
EASTERN 15-25 seconds +30 seconds every steep

Green Tea

The next few less oxidized tea types are more delicate and require some lighter conditions to pull out the full flavor without over extracting bitterness. To pull out the sweet, soft, green notes of green tea, use the follow guidelines.

78-85 Celsius
WESTERN 2-3 Minutes +30 seconds every steep
EASTERN 10 seconds +30 seconds every steep

Yellow Tea

Yellow tea takes it down another notch with a slightly lower temperature to extract that rare gentle sweetness without any grassiness.

75-82 Celsius
WESTERN 2-3 Minutes +1 minute every steep
EASTERN 15 seconds +5 seconds every steep

White Tea

White tea is the most delicate tea type.
When brewed gently, it will feature a light floral
sweetness and smooth body.

75-82 Celsius
WESTERN 2-3 Minutes +1 minute every steep
EASTERN 15 seconds +10 seconds every steep

Pu-erh Tea

This aged tea type is ripe with earthy and spicy notes ready for the taking,
as long as you use a steeping method similar to that of black tea.

90-100 Celsius
WESTERN 3-5 Minutes +30 seconds every steep
EASTERN 10 seconds +5 seconds every steep

Herbal Tea

Herbal teas are infusions made with flowers, roots, and leaves that don’t come from the camellia sinensis plant. Since these are not true teas (like everything else we’ve discussed), they can require a variety of steeping methods. Examples of herbal teas are chamomile, hibiscus, matte, spearmint, and rooibos.

Generally, you can assume that an herbal tea is best made with very hot water for a long amount of time, though since this category is massive, there are exceptions.

90-100 Celsius
WESTERN 5-10 Minutes +1 minute every steep
EASTERN 30 seconds +20 seconds every steep

Troubleshooting
Your Tea

If you taste your tea and decide that it’s not quite what you expected, there are a few things you can try to bring it to balance, as long as you’re using fresh, premium tea. If your tea isn’t excellent to begin with, your ability to hone in on the flavor is severely limited.

Here are a couple approaches you can take to troubleshooting and improving your tea.

The Tea
Is Too Strong

If you take a sip of your tea and notice it’s too strong, you’ve likely used too many tea leaves or let the leaves steep for a little too long. Here are your options for resolving overpowering tea: - Use Less Tea Leaves
- Use More Water
- Reduce Steeping Time
- Reduce Water Temperature

The Tea
Is Too Weak

If your tea isn’t quite as flavorful as you were hoping, a few options are available for taking it up a notch and increasing strength: - Use More Tea Leaves
- Use Less Water
- Increase Steeping Time
- Increase Water Temperature

The Tea
Is Bitter

If you notice a harsh or unpleasant bitterness in your tea, you’re experiencing a classic case of over extraction. Essentially, the water has pulled too much out of the tea leaves, producing the bitterness. Your goal is to extract less next time. Here are your options: - Reduce Steeping Time
- Reduce Water Temperature

It’s important that you only change one variable at a time when you’re troubleshooting your tea. If you change too many things at once, it will be difficult to keep up with how your adjustments affect the tea.

If you apply these troubleshooting tools, you’ll become more and more comfortable with your teas, and they’ll taste better and better.
The key is simply to be aware of what is happening in the pot and in your mug.

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