Guide to Brewing Tea

Hand pouring milk into cup of rick green matcha tea.

As you no doubt know, the Mountain Rose Herb team loves a good cup of tea. Our in-house artisan tea experts blend our teas with health and well-being in mind using superior botanicals to create nourishing, delicious teas with rich, organic flavors and nuanced tasting notes. But the quality of a tea is best showcased when it is brewed correctly. If you appreciate a fantastic cup of tea, here are some pointers on how to create your dream cuppa’.

Whether you are a big fan of the freshest loose leaf teas, as we are, or you’re reaching for that emergency running-out-the-door teabag to throw in your tea tumbler, there are a number of factors that go into a great tea-sipping experience.

Tea QualityOld or low quality plants simply don’t have the flavor that fresh, high-quality ones do. This is true whether we’re talking about tea blends or culinary herbs.

Tea Storage—While starting with the freshest botanicals is imperative, how your tea is stored is equally important for preserving both flavor and wellness-supporting compounds. This is why our loose leaf teas go directly into airtight packaging promptly after blending.

Tea Quantity—The amount of tea you should use in a cup varies depending on the type of tea you are brewing. Herbal, red, and rooibos teas are a little “fluffier” and tend to require a bit more tea per cup than green, white, or black teas. This has to do with the relative density of the caffeinated teas as well as their caffeine content. Many tea aficionados say you should use one teaspoon of caffeinated tea to six ounces of water, and one tablespoon of herbal tea to eight ounces of water.

Tea Temperature—Some teas should ideally be brewed at a lower temperature than others to get the best flavor. While black and most herbal teas brew best in water between 180-212°F, more delicate tea leaves can burn at that temperature. However, water that is too cool often won’t properly extract the full flavor or constituents from botanicals. The exception, of course, is if you are wanting to extract mucopolysaccharides from a demulcent herb like marshmallow; heat destroys mucopolysaccharides, so in that case, it’s important to make your tea with room temperature water.

Tea Steep Time—Different teas require different steep times to properly extract the unique, naturally occurring compounds. You’ll often see tea aficionados recommend a shorter steep time for caffeinated teas. This is a way to control the amount of tannins and caffeine that is extracted into the water. Steeping these teas too long can result in an overly bitter cup. Herbal, red, and rooibos teas can often steep much longer without negative affect.

All of this said, how you like your tea is really a matter of personal preference. So, while we suggest starting with the recommended quantities, temperatures, and steep times in In  the table below, we always encourage people to experiment in order to customize your brewing experience!

TeaInfusionsInfographic-1
*For those with visual impairment, the text version of this infographic can be found at the end of the blog. 

How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea

How to Brew Herbal Teas

Depending on your goals and the herbs you’re using, you may choose to make your herbal tea as an infusion or a decoction. Hot infusions draw out vitamins, enzymes, and aromatic volatile oils from the aerial parts of a plant (flowers, leaves, etc.) as well as some aromatic roots. Many of us were taught to use water that is just shy of the boiling stage for herbal infusions (about 180-200°F), but usually it’s fine to bring the water to a boil (212°F) and call it good—we don’t always have time to be fussy. Decoctions are simmered and are better at extracting the constituents of hard roots and barks, dried berries, and seeds. Decoctions are more concentrated and stronger in flavor.

Herbal Infusions

Makes one 8 oz. cup.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. organic herb(s) of choice
  • 8 oz. water heated to 180-212°F

Directions

  1. Fill a reusable tea infuser, cotton tea net, or a disposable tea filter with the herb(s). Alternatively, just dump the herbs into a cup and plan to strain them out after.
  2. Pour water over tea and steep 3-5 minutes, or until desired strength.
  3. Remove infuser or strain out herbs and enjoy!

Herbal Decoctions

Makes one 8 oz. cup. 

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. organic herb(s) of choice
  • 8 oz. water

Directions

  1. Put herb(s) in a small saucepan and cover with 8 oz. water.
  2. Slowly heat to a simmer.
  3. Cover and gently simmer for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Strain into a mug and enjoy!


    A steaming cup of english breakfast tea being poured.

 

Caffeinated Teas

Black, green, and white teas are all made from leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Different varietals have developed in different regions, and their unique characteristics are influenced by soil composition, climate, and careful selection by tea growers. But really, how the Camellia sinensis is processed after harvesting is what makes different kinds of caffeinated tea. Oxidation, or lack thereof, is a key piece of this process; it’s what makes a particular tea look and taste the way it does. Oxidation involves exposing the tea leaves to air, which releases enzymes that change the color and flavor. Black teas are fully oxidized and pu’erh tea goes through an additional fermentation step. Green tea leaves, on the other hand, are steamed or pan-fired to stop the oxidization process quickly and maintain their green color and fresh taste. The oolong version is partially oxidized so you get both off-green and black leaves. White tea is the least oxidized of all, which gives it its delicate flavor profile.

How to Brew Caffeinated Teas: Black, Green, and White

Makes one 6 oz. cup. 

Ingredients

Directions

How to Brew Red and Rooibos Teas

Makes one 6 oz. cup.

Red and rooibos teas need more heat and a longer steep time than most herbal or caffeinated teas to properly extract flavor and constituents.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Fill a reusable tea infuser, cotton tea net, or a disposable tea filter with tea leaves and place in a cup.
  2. Pour water over the tea and steep 5-10 minutes, or until desired strength.
  3. Remove infuser and enjoy!

 Pouring yaupon tea into small cast iron ceremonial tea cup.

How to Brew Mate and Yaupon Teas

Makes 6 oz.

Mate and yaupon teas should be brewed at a lower temperature than herbal or black teas.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Fill a reusable tea infuser, cotton tea net, or a disposable tea filter with tea leaves and place in a cup.
  2. Pour water over the tea and steep 5 minutes, or until desired strength.
  3. Remove infuser and enjoy!

 

How to Brew Chai

Chai blends are excellent as both a traditional decoction and as an infusion.

Traditional Chai Decoction

Makes 12 oz.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. organic chai blend of choice
  • 8 oz. water
  • 4 oz. organic milk or milk substitute
  • 2-3 tsp. organic sweetener of choice

Directions

  1. Fill a tea infuser or cotton tea net with the chai tea. (Alternatively, put loose tea directly in pan.)
  2. Place in a pan with 8 oz. water and 4 oz. milk/milk substitute.
  3. Gently simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove infuser or strain into a cup.
  5. Stir in sweetener.

Pro Tip: You can of course use all water in place of milk or milk substitute.

Chai Infusions

Makes 8 oz.

Ideal temperature of water and steep time for chai tea depends on if your chai includes black tea or green tea. Black teas can handle higher temperature and a longer steep.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. organic chai blend of choice
  • 8 oz. water. See temperature for black and green teas in table above.

Directions

  1. Fill a reusable tea infuser, cotton tea net, or a disposable tea filter with the herb(s). Alternatively, just dump the herbs into a cup and plan to strain them out after.
  2. Pour water over tea and steep 3-5 minutes, or until desired strength.
  3. Remove infuser or strain out herbs and enjoy!

 

How to Brew Matcha Tea

Makes about 12 oz.

Matcha tea is traditionally prepared in a bowl using a bamboo whisk called a chasen to give the matcha its frothy, creamy texture. But you can easily make matcha with a small kitchen whisk, or just a spoon if you don’t want the frothy bit. Matcha is a tea that should be brewed at a lower temperature.

Ingredients

  • 1-3 tsp. organic matcha tea, to taste
  • About 10 oz. hot but not boiling water—175-180°F, or for a mellower flavor use water about 160°F

Directions

  1. Place matcha in a cup or matcha bowl and add a little of the hot water.
  2. Use a whisk to thoroughly mix, pressing against sides of the cup/bowl to remove any lumps.
  3. Gradually add remaining hot water, continuing to whisk until fully incorporated and frothy.
  4. Pour into cup and enjoy.

 

Pro Tips:

  • You can sift the matcha powder through a mesh strainer before brewing to make an extra-smooth cup. This is a handy trick if your tea has absorbed some moisture and has begun to clump.
  • If you like iced matcha tea, follow directions through step 2. At step 3, add iced water instead of hot.

 

Want Another Way to Bring Tea Into Your Life?

Learn How to Make Instant Herbal Tea Cubes

 

You may also enjoy:

 Pinterest Image for How to Make Tea

INFUSION REFERENCE TABLE TEXT FROM INFOGRAPHIC ABOVE

Herbal Teas: 1 Tbsp. per 8 oz. | 180-212°F, Just shy of a boil to a full boil | 3-5 minutes

Black Teas:1 tsp. per 6 oz. | 180-212°F, Just shy of a boil to a full boil | 2-5 minutes

Green Teas: 1 tsp. per 6 oz.| 175-180°F, Steaming hot | 1-2 minutes

White Teas: 1 tsp. per 6 oz.| 175-180°, Steaming hot | 5-7 minutes

Red & Rooibos Teas: 1 tsp. per 6 oz. | 212°F, Full boil | 5-10 minutes

Mate & Yaupon Teas: 1 tsp. per 6 oz. | 160-180°F, Hot to steaming hot | 5 minutes

Chai Teas: 1 Tbsp. per 8 oz. | See black or green tea, depending on which is in the chai blend | 3-5 minutes

Matcha: 1-3 oz. per 10 oz. | 160-180°F, Hot to steaming hot


Topics: Herbalism, Tea & Herbal Drinks

Heidi

Written by Heidi on September 16, 2022

Heidi is a native Oregonian and an award winning freelance writer with a passion for urban homesteading. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing, and has been honored to receive a number of literary prizes including the esteemed Pushcart Prize, and an Individual Artists Award in Creative Writing from the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. When she isn’t working in the garden, cleaning the henhouse, preserving food for winter, pruning the fruit trees, or writing and editing content for really fantastic small businesses, you’ll find her in her quilting room, or somewhere with her nose in a book, or up in the mountains alongside her husband and her terrier pup, Gracie Cakes.


WELCOME

We offer one of the most thorough selections of certified organic herbs, spices, and botanical products and are commited to responsible sourcing.

Guide to Brewing Tea

Hand pouring milk into cup of rick green matcha tea.

As you no doubt know, the Mountain Rose Herb team loves a good cup of tea. Our in-house artisan tea experts blend our teas with health and well-being in mind using superior botanicals to create nourishing, delicious teas with rich, organic flavors and nuanced tasting notes. But the quality of a tea is best showcased when it is brewed correctly. If you appreciate a fantastic cup of tea, here are some pointers on how to create your dream cuppa’.

Whether you are a big fan of the freshest loose leaf teas, as we are, or you’re reaching for that emergency running-out-the-door teabag to throw in your tea tumbler, there are a number of factors that go into a great tea-sipping experience.

Tea QualityOld or low quality plants simply don’t have the flavor that fresh, high-quality ones do. This is true whether we’re talking about tea blends or culinary herbs.

Tea Storage—While starting with the freshest botanicals is imperative, how your tea is stored is equally important for preserving both flavor and wellness-supporting compounds. This is why our loose leaf teas go directly into airtight packaging promptly after blending.

Tea Quantity—The amount of tea you should use in a cup varies depending on the type of tea you are brewing. Herbal, red, and rooibos teas are a little “fluffier” and tend to require a bit more tea per cup than green, white, or black teas. This has to do with the relative density of the caffeinated teas as well as their caffeine content. Many tea aficionados say you should use one teaspoon of caffeinated tea to six ounces of water, and one tablespoon of herbal tea to eight ounces of water.

Tea Temperature—Some teas should ideally be brewed at a lower temperature than others to get the best flavor. While black and most herbal teas brew best in water between 180-212°F, more delicate tea leaves can burn at that temperature. However, water that is too cool often won’t properly extract the full flavor or constituents from botanicals. The exception, of course, is if you are wanting to extract mucopolysaccharides from a demulcent herb like marshmallow; heat destroys mucopolysaccharides, so in that case, it’s important to make your tea with room temperature water.

Tea Steep Time—Different teas require different steep times to properly extract the unique, naturally occurring compounds. You’ll often see tea aficionados recommend a shorter steep time for caffeinated teas. This is a way to control the amount of tannins and caffeine that is extracted into the water. Steeping these teas too long can result in an overly bitter cup. Herbal, red, and rooibos teas can often steep much longer without negative affect.

All of this said, how you like your tea is really a matter of personal preference. So, while we suggest starting with the recommended quantities, temperatures, and steep times in In  the table below, we always encourage people to experiment in order to customize your brewing experience!

TeaInfusionsInfographic-1
*For those with visual impairment, the text version of this infographic can be found at the end of the blog. 

How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea

How to Brew Herbal Teas

Depending on your goals and the herbs you’re using, you may choose to make your herbal tea as an infusion or a decoction. Hot infusions draw out vitamins, enzymes, and aromatic volatile oils from the aerial parts of a plant (flowers, leaves, etc.) as well as some aromatic roots. Many of us were taught to use water that is just shy of the boiling stage for herbal infusions (about 180-200°F), but usually it’s fine to bring the water to a boil (212°F) and call it good—we don’t always have time to be fussy. Decoctions are simmered and are better at extracting the constituents of hard roots and barks, dried berries, and seeds. Decoctions are more concentrated and stronger in flavor.

Herbal Infusions

Makes one 8 oz. cup.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. organic herb(s) of choice
  • 8 oz. water heated to 180-212°F

Directions

  1. Fill a reusable tea infuser, cotton tea net, or a disposable tea filter with the herb(s). Alternatively, just dump the herbs into a cup and plan to strain them out after.
  2. Pour water over tea and steep 3-5 minutes, or until desired strength.
  3. Remove infuser or strain out herbs and enjoy!

Herbal Decoctions

Makes one 8 oz. cup. 

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. organic herb(s) of choice
  • 8 oz. water

Directions

  1. Put herb(s) in a small saucepan and cover with 8 oz. water.
  2. Slowly heat to a simmer.
  3. Cover and gently simmer for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Strain into a mug and enjoy!


    A steaming cup of english breakfast tea being poured.

 

Caffeinated Teas

Black, green, and white teas are all made from leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Different varietals have developed in different regions, and their unique characteristics are influenced by soil composition, climate, and careful selection by tea growers. But really, how the Camellia sinensis is processed after harvesting is what makes different kinds of caffeinated tea. Oxidation, or lack thereof, is a key piece of this process; it’s what makes a particular tea look and taste the way it does. Oxidation involves exposing the tea leaves to air, which releases enzymes that change the color and flavor. Black teas are fully oxidized and pu’erh tea goes through an additional fermentation step. Green tea leaves, on the other hand, are steamed or pan-fired to stop the oxidization process quickly and maintain their green color and fresh taste. The oolong version is partially oxidized so you get both off-green and black leaves. White tea is the least oxidized of all, which gives it its delicate flavor profile.

How to Brew Caffeinated Teas: Black, Green, and White

Makes one 6 oz. cup. 

Ingredients

Directions

How to Brew Red and Rooibos Teas

Makes one 6 oz. cup.

Red and rooibos teas need more heat and a longer steep time than most herbal or caffeinated teas to properly extract flavor and constituents.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Fill a reusable tea infuser, cotton tea net, or a disposable tea filter with tea leaves and place in a cup.
  2. Pour water over the tea and steep 5-10 minutes, or until desired strength.
  3. Remove infuser and enjoy!

 Pouring yaupon tea into small cast iron ceremonial tea cup.

How to Brew Mate and Yaupon Teas

Makes 6 oz.

Mate and yaupon teas should be brewed at a lower temperature than herbal or black teas.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Fill a reusable tea infuser, cotton tea net, or a disposable tea filter with tea leaves and place in a cup.
  2. Pour water over the tea and steep 5 minutes, or until desired strength.
  3. Remove infuser and enjoy!

 

How to Brew Chai

Chai blends are excellent as both a traditional decoction and as an infusion.

Traditional Chai Decoction

Makes 12 oz.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. organic chai blend of choice
  • 8 oz. water
  • 4 oz. organic milk or milk substitute
  • 2-3 tsp. organic sweetener of choice

Directions

  1. Fill a tea infuser or cotton tea net with the chai tea. (Alternatively, put loose tea directly in pan.)
  2. Place in a pan with 8 oz. water and 4 oz. milk/milk substitute.
  3. Gently simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove infuser or strain into a cup.
  5. Stir in sweetener.

Pro Tip: You can of course use all water in place of milk or milk substitute.

Chai Infusions

Makes 8 oz.

Ideal temperature of water and steep time for chai tea depends on if your chai includes black tea or green tea. Black teas can handle higher temperature and a longer steep.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. organic chai blend of choice
  • 8 oz. water. See temperature for black and green teas in table above.

Directions

  1. Fill a reusable tea infuser, cotton tea net, or a disposable tea filter with the herb(s). Alternatively, just dump the herbs into a cup and plan to strain them out after.
  2. Pour water over tea and steep 3-5 minutes, or until desired strength.
  3. Remove infuser or strain out herbs and enjoy!

 

How to Brew Matcha Tea

Makes about 12 oz.

Matcha tea is traditionally prepared in a bowl using a bamboo whisk called a chasen to give the matcha its frothy, creamy texture. But you can easily make matcha with a small kitchen whisk, or just a spoon if you don’t want the frothy bit. Matcha is a tea that should be brewed at a lower temperature.

Ingredients

  • 1-3 tsp. organic matcha tea, to taste
  • About 10 oz. hot but not boiling water—175-180°F, or for a mellower flavor use water about 160°F

Directions

  1. Place matcha in a cup or matcha bowl and add a little of the hot water.
  2. Use a whisk to thoroughly mix, pressing against sides of the cup/bowl to remove any lumps.
  3. Gradually add remaining hot water, continuing to whisk until fully incorporated and frothy.
  4. Pour into cup and enjoy.

 

Pro Tips:

  • You can sift the matcha powder through a mesh strainer before brewing to make an extra-smooth cup. This is a handy trick if your tea has absorbed some moisture and has begun to clump.
  • If you like iced matcha tea, follow directions through step 2. At step 3, add iced water instead of hot.

 

Want Another Way to Bring Tea Into Your Life?

Learn How to Make Instant Herbal Tea Cubes

 

You may also enjoy:

 Pinterest Image for How to Make Tea

INFUSION REFERENCE TABLE TEXT FROM INFOGRAPHIC ABOVE

Herbal Teas: 1 Tbsp. per 8 oz. | 180-212°F, Just shy of a boil to a full boil | 3-5 minutes

Black Teas:1 tsp. per 6 oz. | 180-212°F, Just shy of a boil to a full boil | 2-5 minutes

Green Teas: 1 tsp. per 6 oz.| 175-180°F, Steaming hot | 1-2 minutes

White Teas: 1 tsp. per 6 oz.| 175-180°, Steaming hot | 5-7 minutes

Red & Rooibos Teas: 1 tsp. per 6 oz. | 212°F, Full boil | 5-10 minutes

Mate & Yaupon Teas: 1 tsp. per 6 oz. | 160-180°F, Hot to steaming hot | 5 minutes

Chai Teas: 1 Tbsp. per 8 oz. | See black or green tea, depending on which is in the chai blend | 3-5 minutes

Matcha: 1-3 oz. per 10 oz. | 160-180°F, Hot to steaming hot


Topics: Herbalism, Tea & Herbal Drinks

Heidi

Written by Heidi on September 16, 2022

Heidi is a native Oregonian and an award winning freelance writer with a passion for urban homesteading. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing, and has been honored to receive a number of literary prizes including the esteemed Pushcart Prize, and an Individual Artists Award in Creative Writing from the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. When she isn’t working in the garden, cleaning the henhouse, preserving food for winter, pruning the fruit trees, or writing and editing content for really fantastic small businesses, you’ll find her in her quilting room, or somewhere with her nose in a book, or up in the mountains alongside her husband and her terrier pup, Gracie Cakes.