Making loose leaf tea usually goes through basic steps such as preparing, boiling water, brewing tea, filtering tea, and enjoying. To have a good cup of tea, you also need to pay attention to many factors.

If you are a novice leaf tea drinker, you are confused about where to start or need a reference, take a few minutes to read through this article to get a stepbystep picture of how to make a cup of tea with loose leaf for the first time for beginners.

Basic steps for a good cup of loose leaf tea 
Basic steps for a good cup of loose leaf tea

Many drinkers only require tea, a cup, and a kettle to enjoy tea, while others enjoy collecting complex, multiitem tea sets to use in their tea ceremonies. It is hard to tell you how to make the perfect cup of tea with loose tea.

However, you can find the answer with confidence in yourself after a few trials. Because only you know what style and flavor best matches you. Let the following guide lay the foundation for you to make one cup of tea from loose tea.

Step 1: Preparing ingredients and tea tools

Some of the ingredients and tools often used for loose leaf tea making are:

  • Good type of loose leaf tea
  • Water
  • Kettle/ Water boiler
  • Teacup
  • Teapot (optional)
  • Tea strainer (optional)
  • Scale (optional)
  • Measuring spoons (optional)
  • Measuring cup (optional)
  • Thermometer (optional)

Here are our tips about certain ingredients and tools to help you make a cup of tea with tea leaves for the first time.

Tea

A good tea from a trusted supplier is an important first step to a perfect cup of tea. Loose tea is usually the whole leaf or has a bigger leaf size than tea in a teabag. On average, 1 gram of dried tea needs 50120ml of water. The ratio of tea and water may vary depending on the type of tea, shelf life, storage conditions, personal preferences, etc.

Some kinds of loose leaf teas
Some kinds of loose leaf teas

If there is no use instruction on the bag of loose tea you bought, you can refer to the following table:

Tea variety Quantitative Note
Green tea 4- 5 grams for 250ml cup
  • Serves 2- 3 people
  • For flowerscented tea, you should refer to the ratio for the main ingredient of the tea.
Black tea 5- 6 grams for 250ml cup Serves 1- 2 people
Oolong tea 5- 6 grams for 250ml cup Serves 2- 3 people
White tea 4- 5 grams for 250 ml cup Serves 2- 4 people
Herbal tea 5- 6 grams for 250 ml cup Serves 1- 2 people
PuErh tea 5- 6 grams for 250 ml cup Serves 1- 2 people
Shan tea 4- 5 grams for 250 ml cup Serves 2- 4 people

Tip:

The density and size of the tea leaves are different among many tea types, so you should measure tea by weight. If possible, please use a kitchen scale to help you take the number of tea leaves exactly.

If you do not have a scale or need to use it much for other purposes, the simplest solution is to use a teaspoon or tablespoon right in your kitchen.

Kitchen scale and spoons
Kitchen scale and spoons

You can also use specialized spoons such as measuring spoons set, measuring spoon for 1 cup and 1 pot, or measuring spoon for loose tea.

Some specialized measuring spoons
Some specialized measuring spoons

Firstly, you can try one spoon of tea leaves to brew with 250ml of water (use tablespoon for whole loose leaf tea and teaspoon for smaller or twisted leaves). It is better to take note of your tool and how you measure it for the first time. After that, you can use the same tools and adjust the tea amount later if needed.

If you like a strong taste or want to add ice and other ingredients to the finished tea, you increase the amount of dry tea or reduce the ratio of water used for brewing.

After taking a sufficient quantity of loose tea, close the tea bag or box tightly and store it in a cool, dark, and dry place away from direct sunlight to ensure that the tea preserves its good taste evenly in the following brews.

If you do not use all the loose tea, click here to read about How long does loose tea stay fresh?

Tea cup and teapot

You can use any porcelain or glass cup you have to make loose tea.

Teacup of various sizes
Teacup of various sizes

A teapot will aid in the preparation of tasty tea and consistent quality throughout time. If you don’t have a pot, you don’t need to buy one immediately for the first few times.

After a few brews and you love to drink loose tea, it’s time to gift yourself a favorite cup and pot.

Read more about Vietnamese teacups and teapots here

Currently, there are many types of teacups with filter parts (strainers) that can be used to make tea for one person.

Teacups with strainer is enough for one serving
Teacups with strainer is enough for one serving

If you want to drink many cups of loose tea or make it for a few people, buy a teapot or a dedicated tea set, better with a filter/strainer included.

Teapots or tea set with filter parts
Teapots or tea set with filter parts

Tip:

Loose tea leaves will expand about five times after brewing. Therefore, the cup or pot for making tea should have a volume of at least six times larger than the amount of dried tea to achieve the best quality.

Water

Water plays an important role that affects having a good cup of loose leaf tea. It is better to choose pure water to make tea because the purer the water is, the more oxygen it contains, which helps to highlight the delicious taste and aroma of the tea.

The best water for making tea is clean spring water, water wells in unpolluted areas, or rainwater. You do not use contaminated or hard water. If you make tea at home or work, the most convenient is to use water through a filter device or bottled water.

Water from a filtered or bottled faucet
Water from a filtered or bottled faucet can replace pure natural water

The amount of water that your cup or teapot can contain may differ from the one shown in Table 1. You should measure the quantity of water that needs to prepare tea. Then, you fill your cup/pot with water, use a measuring cup/kettle, or a 450 500ml water bottle to estimate.

From that result, you can recalculate the grams of loose tea that you should use to brew. You should prepare more water than enough for your teacup or teapot because the water evaporates while boiling.

measure the suitable quantity of water by tools
Remeasure the suitable quantity of water by tools

Thermometer

A liquid thermometer will help accurately ascertain the boiling point of water used to make loose tea. If you don’t have one, keep reading till the end to find out our solution.

Specialized thermometer
Specialized thermometer for measuring water temperature

Kettle/Water boiler

This article focuses on brewing hot tea with loose tea, so a kettle/water boiler is indispensable. There are plenty of options that are both traditional and modern for you.

Some styles of kettles
Some styles of kettles

However, an electric water boiler may be more convenient than a kettle for a newbie. It will be better if your water boiler is transparent and has volumetric markings or displays the temperature of the water.

Versatile electric kettles
Versatile electric kettles

Strainer (Tea filter, Tea infuser)

Tea strainer makes it easy to separate the tea leaves and liquor. The most common material of tea strainer is stainless steel, also available in paper, ceramic, or glass.

Some people prefer many cups or teapots that already have strainers inside, while others like using separate things. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of them in the following table:

Type Pros Cons
Paper/Nonwoven tea filter bags

  • It is filtered and disposed of tea grounds easily.
  • It doesn’t need to wash after use.
  • It can not be reused.
  • It has a small volume, only suitable for some small leaf teas.
Strainer attached to the teapot

  • It is already available in the pot, no need to buy.
  • It does not affect the space in the teapot.
  • It is difficult to clean.
  • The filter holes are large. Therefore some tiny tea leaves can go out with water.
Basket Strainer as removable part of the teapot

 

  • It is easy to remove for cleaning.
  • It has an enough space to make loose tea.
  • It can be reused many times.
  • It is suitable for brewing a small amount of tea only.
  • You need to clean after and before use.
Shape strainer/infuser (Ball, tube,…)

 

  • It has a nice design.
  • It can be reused many times.
  • It is not enough space to make loose tea.
  • It is difficult to disassemble.
  • You need to clean after and before using.
Separate strainer

  • It fits a variety of cups and pots.
  • It does not affect the tea brewing space.
  • It can be reused many times.
  • You need to clean after and before use.

After reading this far, you may choose to prepare the ingredients and tools that suit your taste and condition to be ready for making your own cup of tea with loose leaves in the next step.

Step 2: Boiling water

You pour the right amount of water for your loose tea into the kettle and start boiling. Each kind of tea requires a particular temperature of water. Please see the table below for more information:

Tea variety Temperature (°C) Note
Green tea, flower scented tea 75- 85 Some Asian green teas focus on clear green liquor and fresh aroma so you can brew at 60 75°C.
Black tea 100 Premium black tea in the high mountains can be brewed at a temperature of 80 90°C
Oolong tea 80- 95 The higher the fermentation, the higher the brewing temperature.
White tea 75- 90 Smaller leaf white tea may need a lower temperature.
Herbal tea 80- 100 There may be various herbal combinations in one tea, so the brewing temperature is different. If you are unsure about your herb, let’s brew at 100°C
Pu-Erh tea 100
Shan tea 90- 95

If your electric kettle/water boiler has the function that selects or indicates the water temperature, it will be quite helpful. If not, you can use a thermometer to check the proper time to turn it off. In case you don’t have both of the above, practice observing the water in the kettle.

States of boiling water to make a cup of loose tea
States of boiling water to make a cup of loose tea
  • State 1: Tiny bubbles start to form, the current temperature is about 6075°C. These temperatures should be for green tea that requires light liquor.
  • State 2: The size of the water bubble gets bigger, the water smoke starts to rise. The temperature at the moment is 75 90°C. Let’s use it for Green tea, small leaf White tea, low fermented Oolong, and Herbal teas.
  • State 3: Water bubbles’ size is bigger than 5mm, more smoke. You can hear the sound of boiling water. It is 90 95°C, perfect for White tea, Shan tea, high fermented Oolong, and highgrown Black tea.
  • State 4: Fully boiling water at 100°C, visible smoke, and clear boiling sound. The electric boiler reaches the threshold automatically turns off. It is ready for black tea, Puerh tea, and some herbal teas.

Tip:

  • If the water has boiled over the threshold you need, add a little more water. Another option is to turn off and wait for the water to cool. Boiling water cools down to around 80°C after 5 minutes and 7075°C after 10 minutes.
  • You can pour hot water into another cup/pot or a cup with a clean metal spoon and use it to make tea. The quality of the finished tea may lower slightly.
  • While waiting for the water to boil, you can prepare the tea and put it in the brewing cup/teapot. Let’s move on to the next step.

Step 3: Steeping tea

You pour part of the hot water into the cup with the dried tea, rinse the cup and tea, and then rapidly pour the remaining water out. If you are making loose tea in a teapot, you can pour that water from the pot into the cup you’ll be drinking.

This process helps clean teacup and teapot, soften and wake up the tea leaves, as well as keep the temperature of the cup/pot consistent with the brewing water.

the tea before steeping
Wake up the tea before steeping

You fill the cup/pot with boiling water, equivalent to the amount of water needed to brew the dry tea you estimated before. We officially enter the steeping tea stage.

To get a good taste and beautiful liquor, you should notice the steeping time of each tea type. If you steep tea over its appropriate time, the substances that cause a bitter and acrid taste will dissolve in the tea.

Please refer to the following timetable as a simple recipe for beginners:

Loose tea variety Steeping time (minute)
Green tea, flowerscented tea 1-3
Black tea 3-4
Oolong tea 3-4
White tea 1-2
Herbal tea 3-6
PuErh tea 2-4
Shan tea 1-3

Tip:

  • A cup or pot with a lid can shorten steeping time compared to the one that doesn’t have it.
  • You can steep the loose tea for a longer period if you prefer a bitter taste or want to stay awake.
  • Increase the amount of dried tea to brew instead of steeping it for too long if you want to add other items to your tea but don’t want the flavor to vary too much.
  • To take advantage of the medicinal properties of herbs, many people will cook herbal tea in boiling water and brew it for about 1530 minutes.
  • As a newbie, if you are not familiar with the strong tea taste, you can steep for a shorter time (even less than 1 minute) to enjoy a lighter and more aromatic taste. All tea types can be infused a few times until the taste is gone, but of course, the first 1 2 brewing times will taste the best.
  • If you steep within the right time and your tea tastes too bitter, reduce the amount of dry loose tea next time.
  • During the steeping time, make sure the teacup and strainer are ready.

Step 4: Removing tea leaves out of the teapot

If you don’t mind having some tea leaves in your teacup or want to keep steeping while drinking, you may not need the strainer and skip this step.

It will be better when separate the tea from the water to ensure the tea liquor is perfect.

If you use a paper/nonwoven filter bag or ball/tube shape infuser, lift it out of the cup/pot.

Paper filter bag ready to be removed.
Paper filter bag ready to be removed.

It is simply pouring the water out if the tea strainer is attached to the pot.

The filter in the pot keeps the tea leaves inside
The filter in the pot keeps the tea leaves inside

For removable basket strainers, you need to take them out from the cup/pot gently.

Basket strainers can be easily removed
Basket strainers can be easily removed

For separate strainers, place it on the rim of the cup and slowly pour in the tea.

It's so relaxing to watch the tea filter through a separate strainer
It’s so relaxing to watch the tea filter through a separate strainer

Tea making is done. Are you ready to enjoy it?

Related post: How to make a cup of tea with a teabag: A helpful guideline for you

Step 5: Enjoying

After finishing all steps, hold off for a moment to prevent getting burned. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the scent from the tea cup. Green tea, Shan tea, white tea, flower scented loose tea will taste the best if you drink it hot, a little bit right after pouring tea into the cup. Take small sips and keep them in your mouth for 1 2 seconds before drinking to feel the full aroma and taste.

Drinking green tea regularly
Taking time to enjoy the aroma of loose tea will help you relax

The majority of teas taste better when served hot. But you can drink it hot or cold, depending on your pleasure.

To create milk tea, pour the milk into the cup first, then mix with the tea liquor. Milk tea will need tea liquor having a bold taste and dark color, so it is necessary to increase the amount of tea and brew time.

You may want to know: Vietnamese milk tea: Recipes and Tips to choose the best tea ingredient

If you wish to add extra components to your tea (lemon, sugar, peach, ice, etc. ), do so one at a time and see how the tea liquor changes, prioritizing the ingredients that hardly dissolve first and the ice last.

We hope our article has been of some assistance to beginners who are learning how to prepare a good cup of tea with loose leaves for the first time. Tea making is enjoyable. It can be easy or complex, depending on how you approach it. Slowly experiment, enjoy and adjust to make the best cup of tea for yourself.

If you want to buy bulk tea from a reliable supplier, please contact us via: info@vietnamtea.com

Author: Ms. Hang Gina – FGC Sales Executive

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