Perfect? For me, but maybe not for you. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Perfect? For me, but maybe not for you. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Hundreds and maybe even thousands of articles are written on how to steep tea. Plus a ton of videos. Even so, new information always seems to pop up in discussions with tea-loving friends online. A recent incident prompted me to put down some thoughts on tea steeping instructions, and I hope you will excuse any that are repeats from past articles I’ve written. It can be tough to keep track.

First Things First

People who are new to tea or who want to explore tea beyond their normal morning or afternoon cuppa need a starting point. A general guide will be a good first try with any tea. Use boiling water for black tea and infuse for 3-5 minutes, for example. Use water heated to about 180-195°F for oolongs and infuse for 2-3 minutes, for another example. But after a few times, you will naturally find yourself trying other water temperatures and infusion times. You will leave this first guidance behind.

Moving on to Your Own Preferences

Tea invigorates, and so you will find your brain stimulated to try new things with it. The more you try, the more you will experiment. You will find that oolongs are quite varied, that you can steep them anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. You will notice a difference in your black tea when you use water that is slightly below boiling (about 200°F) and infused for 2 or 3 minutes instead of the usual 5 minutes. You may find that a whole teaspoon of dry tea per cup of water is too much – or too little!

What It All Means

We all need that start, that first instruction in how to do something. Our parents held our hands as we took our first steps and soom we were running. Our teachers started us with the alphabet and soon we knew how to read whole words and sentences and paragraphs. The first flute lesson is about how to hold it properly, where to place your fingers, how to blow across (not into) the opening, and then you can begin learning to play. So it is with tea. Steeping instructions hold your hand, teach you basics, and help you prepare for the experience. Then, you can follow your own way. Life is like that, too. Gee, no wonder tea is so popular!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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