How to Brew Tea

Brewing up the perfect cup depends entirely on what you’re brewing. Every type of tea and tisane has a “preferred” water temperature and steeping time – and every person likes their tea brewed differently. We’ve put together a brief guide for times and temperatures, but this is just a starting point – you’ll want to experiment with temperature, steeping time, amount of tea, etc. to find the perfect procedure for your new brew.

In most cases, you’ll want to start with a slightly heaping teaspoonful of tea for one cup (6-8oz). For a stronger brew, use more tea, not more time!

Times and Temps
Green Tea
160-175F (boil water, then allow it to cool for a few moments)
1-2 minutes

Oolong Tea
175-190F (boil water, then walk it to the teapot before pouring)
2-3 minutes

Black Tea
212F (boiling)
3-5 minutes

190-200F (boil water, then walk it to the teapot before pouring)
5-8 minutes

Yerba Mate
175-180F (boil water, then allow it to cool slightly)
5-6 minutes for the first steeping; longer for subsequent steepings

175-190F (boil water, then walk it to the teapot before pouring)
5-6 minutes

1 heaping tablespoon
212F (boiling)
6-10 minutes

How to Prepare
There’s almost as many ways to prepare tea as there are varieties of tea. You can add loose tea to a teapot, pour in water, steep, and strain into your cup; you can use a mesh tea ball or spoon to make a single cup of tea at a time; you can use a strainer set into a teapot or cup to restrain the leaves; you can even prepare tea in a French press (typically used for coffee). We particularly recommend using a French press for brewing cacao.

The key, regardless of the method, is to allow the leaves enough room to “bloom” in the hot water – you want them to be able to be fully surrounded by the hot water and to plump up, infusing all their flavour into the drink. Bagged teas are convenient for when you’re on the go – you can simply pop a bag or sachet into hot water and fish it out when the brewing time’s up.

Loose vs. Bagged
Full-leaf teas are better. Period. Why? Because tea needs surface area to infuse hot water with flavour, and while you can get lots of surface area from little bitty broken bits of tea, like that found in most mass-market commercial tea bags, you also get a lot of bitterness and not a lot of subtle flavour from such teas. Which means that bagged tea – or at least the bagged tea you tend to find in the supermarket – tends to be not so delicious.

Beyond that, tea needs room to grow. No, seriously. Tea infuses better and creates a tastier drink when given room to “bloom” and expand in the water, fully infusing it with flavour. Most bagged teas don’t give the tea enough room to expand properly and therefore don’t allow the brew to reach its full potential. More importantly, most non-premium commercial bagged teas are made with “fannings,” which is essentially tea dust left over from the grading process. It’s bitter and astringent, and lacks all of the subtle and delicate flavours of a good loose-leaf cuppa. It’s cheap, though, which is why mass-market tea blenders use it – and since it’s dust, it doesn’t need that all-important room to grow.

For our most popular blends, Tea Noir offers a convenient to-go paper tea sachet that’s slightly larger than the average teabag, filled with the exact same long-leaf blends that we sell loose. This means you get all the hassle-free brewing of a bagged tea, with all the bold flavour of an artisan loose-leaf blend. Best of all worlds!

Most teas and tisanes can actually be steeped more than one time! When brewing, simply strain the leaves well, then infuse them into another pot of water. In the case of flavoured teas like those from Tea Noir, these subsequent steepings will often be weaker and less aromatic than the first, but you can still get 2-3 steepings per serving.

If you’re not going to resteep the tea immediately, store it in the refrigerator – wet tea leaves are a magnet for bacteria, and you never ever want to resteep leaves that have been left sitting at room temperature for more than a few minutes.

Tea Storage
Tea should be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct light. Our signature black zipper pouches are an ideal storage container for your new blend – they block light and let you squeeze out extra air as you use up the tea. Just place in a cupboard or cabinet, and you’re good to go!

Don’t store tea in the fridge or freezer! Moisture can collect and damage the leaves, muddying the taste.

Properly stored, tea never really goes “bad,” per se. However, some of the spices and herbs we use in our blends lose potency over time, making for a less tasty brew. Our teas are best used within 6 months, although they’ll still be tasty for up to two years.