Steeping can get a little tricky, but here at Talk Boba we’ll teach you exactly what you need to know! We’ve already taught thousands of boba lovers how to get started and we plan to continue that.
What is steeping tea exactly? It’s the process of extracting the delicious flavors from your loose leaf teas in a way that gives you the best flavor possible. Many people get confused that the longer you steep your tea, the better the taste is. This myth cannot be any farther from the truth, it really comes down to the type of tea leaves you have and even down to the water temperature in which you steep your tea that determine the flavors. Most of the time the longer you steep your tea, the more burnt or acidic it begins to taste, and no one wants that right?
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Now to steeping…
Why You Should Care About How You Steep Your Tea?
The short answer, because the taste and aromatics of your tea depends on how well your steeping process is.
There are two main things you should focus on when steeping tea: the temperature of the water used for steeping and the duration of time that you steep your tea.
The temperature of the water is very important to keep in mind because the extraction of flavors from your loose leaf tea depends on the heat of the water. If your water isn’t hot enough, you may be sacrificing a great deal of flavor that has not been properly extracted from the tea leaves. If your water is too hot, you might actually burn your tea leaves, extracting a more acidic flavor, one that no one enjoys. Whether you’re using a water kettle or traditional pot, be sure you know the temperature!
How long you steep your tea also plays a huge part in the flavor extraction of your loose leaf teas. Just like the temperature of the water, the shorter duration in which you steep your tea the less extraction of flavor you might have (this is not always the case depending on the type of tea leaf used). Or the longer you steep your loose leaf tea (above the optimal time), the more prone you are to extracting acidic and burnt flavor profiles instead.
Here are the proper temperatures and times to steep for some of the most popular teas. Note, we’re going to define the optimal temperature of water for steeping with “boiling” or “short of boiling.” We understand not everyone has a thermometer to keep very precise, plus no one really has the time for that right? Here at Talk Boba we like to keep things as simple as possible and digestible.
Boiling – Temperature of water in which it has reached a rumbling boil. (200-212 Degrees Fahrenheit)
Short of boiling – Temperature of water in which it is just about to begin a rumbling boil but isn’t quite there yet. (170-185 Degrees Fahrenheit)
How Long to Steep Green Tea?
Not long at all. Generally most green teas are of a lighter tea, requiring a lower temperature of water in order to optimally extract its flavors without burning or ruining the taste. We’ve found that the best temperature of water is short of boiling and a shorter duration of steeping. Somewhere around 2.5-4 minutes is great for most green teas.
If you’re interested, here’s our favorite green tea blend from Stash Tea. We usually steep this blend of green tea with short of boiling water temperature for 3.5 minutes max. Give it a try and let us know what you think!
How Long to Steep Black Tea?
For loose leaf black tea, steeping is a bit different. Since black tea is a heavier tea base with more depth than green tea, it requires a bit more. The water temperature in which you should be steeping black tea is at boiling. As for the duration of time in which you need to be steeping black tea, for the ideal flavor, steeping for 4-5 minutes is preferred.
If you don’t like your black tea to be too robust or harsh, steep it for less with the same water temperature. We found that 4.5 minutes is our sweet spot.
How Long to Steep White Tea?
Steeping white tea is very similar to steeping green tea. White tea is another less demanding or gentle tea that doesn’t require much in order to extract its full flavor. We asked our white tea connoisseur in the office how she makes her white tea every morning and here’s what she said.
Ideally you’d want to use a temperature of water that is short of boiling while steeping for no more than 4 minutes. Our white tea lover usually steeps her tea for 3 minutes instead of 4 minutes because she drinks it almost every morning, she likes a more subtle flavor profile.
This is her favorite brand for a white tea blend too, in case you want to try out her exact process!
How Long to Steep Oolong Tea?
Oolong tea isn’t as delicate as green tea but it isn’t as strong as black tea either, it’s in the middle. Anyone a middle child here? For the best flavors, steep your oolong tea with water temperature that is boiling but only for about 3-4 minutes. Oolong tea doesn’t need any longer steep times like black tea does, you’ll find that it becomes acidic soon after 5 minutes of steeping.
How Long to Steep Herbal Tea?
Herbal teas tend to require a bit more in order to extract their best flavors. Some of the most popular herbal teas are ginger tea, hibiscus tea, sage tea and a few others. With water temperature that has reached its boiling point, steep your herbal teas for a longer duration like 5-7 minutes long. You may adjust how long or short your steeping duration is based on how strong you want the flavors to be.
How Long to Steep Earl Grey Tea?
The treatment or steeping of earl grey tea is similar to oolong tea. With a water temperature that reached its boiling point, steep your earl grey tea for no more than 5 minutes. Generally we like to steep it for 4.5 minutes to be exact. We think it offers both a smooth texture and bold flavor with these preferences, give it a try and let us know how yours turns out!
How Long to Steep Chai Tea?
Anyone here a fan of chai tea? We know some people don’t like the “spicy” or “cinnamon” like experience with it. Let us know! Some of the team here enjoy it very much, especially in Fall or Autumn seasons. To steep chai tea to perfect, use a water temperature that has reached its boiling point and steep for 4-6 minutes.
How Long to Steep Jasmine Tea?
Being one of the most delicate teas out there (in this list of loose leaf teas at least), the steeping temperature and duration isn’t much. With water temperature short of boiling, steep your very delicate jasmine tea for 1.5-3 minutes. If you’d like, test the different flavors from steeping for 15-30 seconds more and determine what you like the best!
Did we answer all your steeping questions? If not, let us know here and we’ll be sure to add it to this article or another full depth guide. Maybe we should talk about the best tools to use for steeping loose leaf teas like infusers.
Please share this article with anyone you know that might need help with steeping, we want to continue helping thousands of people learn more. Now that you know a bit about steeping, maybe check out our boba flavor recipe guides so that you can make delicious bubble tea! Thanks for reading with us and remember, just talk about boba!