How to make the perfect cup of loose leaf tea
Loose leaf tea is enjoying a well-deserved renaissance. Its promise of a full flavoured, fresher cup of tea is winning over a new generation of tea lovers.
If you've only ever made tea using a bag or you need a refresher, we've put together this quick guide on how to make the perfect cup of loose leaf tea.
Choosing your loose leaf tea
You don't need to be a tea aficionado to enjoy loose leaf tea – you can still have your usual cup of black tea without the bag. We firmly believe there is a type of tea to suit everyone, and if you want to try something a bit different, there are plenty of options.
- Black: from loose leaf Earl Grey tea to English Breakfast
- Green: high in anti-oxidants and low in caffeine
- White: fresh, sweet and mild – perfect cold in summer
- Oolong: a luxury semi-fermented tea in a range of exquisite aromas
- Tisane:herbal infusion available in a rich variety of flavours
If you've never made a cup of loose leaf tea then you’ll need to gather the right equipment first (hint – you'll have most of it in your kitchen already!).
What do you need to make loose leaf tea?
You don't need expensive equipment to make the perfect cup of loose leaf tea.
Start by finding yourself a decent cup or mug; we recommend porcelain or china. You'll also need a tea pot (if you want to use one), a teaspoon and a tea infuser.
Don't let this last item on the list put you off. A tea infuser is simply a holder for your loose leaves that you can put into your mug or pot of hot water to brew your tea.
For inspiration, check out our top three tea infusers at Pumphrey's Coffee:
1. Tea infuser click spoon
The tea infuser click spoon is an easy way to steep (or brew) loose leaf tea. Simply add your dried tea, click the spoon shut and add to your pot or mug of hot water.
This cylindrical tea brewing basket has room for the leaves to expand for effective steeping. It fits most mugs and tea pots, and has a lid that doubles up as a drip tray.
For tea brewing without the mess, this stainless steel strainer has its own drip bowl.
Steps for making the perfect cup of tea
Part of the joy of drinking tea is the experience of making it. When you go to boil the water, there's a sense of occasion that signals the start of something important. Millions of people make tea everyday, but how do you make the perfect cup of tea?
Start with freshly boiled water
Before you begin, warm your mug or teapot, then fill it with freshly boiled water – never use re-boiled water as this can make your tea taste metallic.
Add your tea leaves to the infuser
If you're using a mug, add one heaped tea spoon of tea leaves to your infuser. If you're using a tea pot, add one teaspoon for the pot and one for each person.
Steep (or brew) your loose leaf tea
Brewing loose leaf tea is a little different to using tea bags. For optimum infusion, each type of tea has a different brewing temperature and steep time.
Green, white and oolong teas are delicate and should be left for more than 4 minutes at around 80°C. If you don't have a fancy electric kettle that lets you boil water to different temperatures, then simply add one part cold water to four parts hot water.
Black tea should be brewed at 100°C for at least four minutes (don't add the milk first because you'll cool down the water too quickly).
Herbal teas (or tisane) follow the usual rule of thumb – the longer you leave them to brew, the stronger the flavour, and ultimately this is down to personal preference.
Don't leave the leaves in for too long or it will over-steep and taste bitter.
Remove the leaves and add milk
Herbal and green teas aren't usually made with milk, but some black teas, like loose leaf English breakfast tea, taste delicious with a splash of milk.
It's a controversial debate – should the milk go in first or after? For those that like milk with their tea, we recommend adding it in at the end, after the infusion has finished. Putting milk in first risks cooling down the hot water too quickly before the leaves have properly infused.
Where to buy loose leaf tea?
Most supermarkets stock loose leaf tea, but the best quality teas are sourced by specialist purveyors who scour the globe looking for the finest ingredients.
We've been selling tea since 1750 at Pumphrey's Coffee in the heart of Newcastle. We stock every type of loose leaf tea, and if you love tea as much as we do then you'll notice the difference in the quality of our ingredients.
From white teas to the best Assam loose leaf tea, flavoured teas and herbal infusions, we have something to suit every kind of tea drinker (including those who prefer tea bags!). It's easy to buy, simply browse the website and check out when you're ready.