How to Brew a Good Cup of Tea

As long as you pay attention to water, temperature, portion, and time.


Great tea starts with the water. Begin with freshly drawn water from the best source you have available—if you have filtered or spring water, even better. Use fresh water every time, as water that’s already been boiled tends to be flat. As the water is boiling, get out your tea. If you’re using loose-leaf tea, use one teaspoon of tea to every eight ounces of water. For a tea bag, use one bag for every eight ounces of water.


If you’ve picked a black, dark oolong, or herbal tea, pour the water over the tea as soon as it’s reached a rolling boil. If you’ve picked a green, light oolong, or white tea, let the water cool for several moments (or to about 180 degrees) before pouring. The more delicate tea leaves can be scalded by water that’s too hot, which may result in a bitter cup. 


Let the tea steep. For a black tea and most herbal teas, four to five minutes is good. An oolong should take about three to four. A green tea only needs two to three minutes, and a white tea even less—only about two minutes. 


When time is up, remove the tea leaves or tea bag from your cup. Remove the tea bag gently—don’t squeeze it out. Once the tea is discarded, you can add what you like. The heartier black teas mix well with milk and/or sugar. The more delicate teas, like Darjeelings, oolongs, green tea, and white tea, are great on their own, but can be sweetened if desired.