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  • Writer's pictureKiley

Steeping Temperatures -- Loose Leaf Tea

Good afTEAnoon, everyone!

Okay, that sounded a little better in my head, but I'm still gonna go with it...haha.

In my last blog post, I wrote all about the different ways to easily brew your loose leaf tea, including sustainable practices that I personally recommend! If you didn't have a chance to read it yet, you can do so here.

First off, I'd like to say that I myself used to do this whole steeping thing consistently wrong until only a few years ago.

Basically it all boiled down to {wow I'm on a roll today! 😉} WATER TEMPERATURE.

Water temperatures are soooo important, y'all.

I feel like looking back, it should have been an obvious part of tea brewing for me-- but at time, I was in college, always on the go, and in addition to this was the type of person who never read the instructions on things before attempting them because I assumed I already knew what I was doing. #IWASWRONG

Anyways, as probably many of us have done, I would heat up lots of water in my kettle and walk away to do something else until I heard the kettle screaming bloody murder at me to come and rescue it from the stove. Then, I'd pour scorching-hot water onto whatever loose leaf tea or tea bag was in my cup {which was usually green tea, by the way} and let it steep for a few minutes. After taking a sip I'd think, "gee, I really don't like this tea", or, "maybe green tea isn't for me after all", and then reassure myself that "green tea is so good for me though so I better drink up".

All this to say: the taste was bitter and terrible, and wasn't the pretty, vibrant green color that I'd been sold on the package and naturally desired to see in my cup.

To help show you all an example, I went ahead and steeped some loose leaf tea, and since we're already talking about green tea I decided to demonstrate with a light citrus green.

This is typically what improperly-steeped green tea looks like after only 2 mins {see image below}. It is not even done steeping, but already has a brownish hue, and will taste bitter and unpleasant {especially without sugar or honey}. It also almost leaves a dry aftertaste in your mouth. This happens when we pour 212 degrees F water, or water that is too hot onto the loose leaf tea leaves. It's essentially burning your tea, rendering it pretty much ruined in most cases. Some green teas that have been infused with flowers or other botanical ingredients will naturally take on a less-than-green color, but for the most part, we are looking for a vibrant, light green when steeping green tea.

improperly steeping citrus green tea {2 mins in}

...And this is what properly steeped green tea looks like after only 2 mins {see image below}. It is not done steeping yet but already you can see a lighter, more visible green color, and we all can expect a more pleasant flavor. Here, we are actually able to taste the delicious, delicate flavors that the tea has to offer, because by pouring water that is 175-180 degrees F onto the tea, we're not burning it! Using this lower water temperature, we are warming it up perfectly so that it can begin to release it's flavors and nutrients as it should. It will now be enhanced by sugar or honey, rather than trying to be 'fixed' by it.

properly steeping citrus green tea {2 mins in}

Of course, this was only an example for green tea. But honestly, the same goes for all other teas! Each variety will have a slightly different steeping temperature that depends specifically on the type of tea it is / what it is blended with, and this will determine the flavors you'll get out of the tea. It's just one of the reasons why it's always a good idea to use a brewing guide or read the instructions on the box.

A little more in depth...

Herbal and black teas are a lot 'sturdier' than green and white teas, and therefore should be steeped at a higher temperature, usually close to or right at 212 degrees F {boiling water}. Personally though, I still do not use boiling water on any of my teas. I usually stick to around 205-ish degrees even when making a cup of herbal or black tea, just to be on the safe side.

White and green teas are different. They are more delicate, leafy, and can be easily scorched and ruined by the wrong temperature of water, leaving you with a bitter flavor. I try to steep white and green teas between 170-185 degrees, depending on its variety and properties.

Here is a Tea and Toast brewing guide for you to download and print out if you'd like! It's

not perfectly precise for each and every tea out there, but it's a great place to start.

These guides are also included on cards in each one of my tea gift boxes, and can also be found on my website under the loose leaf tea section.

For my next post, I'll get more in depth about what makes each tea variety different! What is the different between an herbal tea and a white tea? Or a green tea and a black tea, other than their color or caffeine content? You'll find out soon...

Thanks for reading! 😊


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How much loose tea is used per cup of tea

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