If you follow along on Instagram you may have seen this chart on Tea Steeping Times:
Not only does water make a huge difference in your tea experience, but also the time tea is steeped.
If there's anything you take away from this be it that the longer you steep tea in hot water the more bitter it will become as it starts to release tannins.
What Are Tannins?
Tannins are the same compounds you find in wine.
They are responsible for giving tea its flavor, and chemical properties that may also reap benefits. Not only are tannins found in tea they are also found in tree bark, leaves, spices, nuts, seeds, fruits, and legumes. plants produce them as a natural defense against bugs. they also contribute to color. The more popular sources of tannins are tea, coffee, wine, and chocolate. Studies have shown tannins to have antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits.
Hot Water VS Cold Water For Tea Steeping Times
You can steep your tea in cold water and leave it for a longer period of time to get some of the properties, but a better way to get cold tea is to steep it with hot water first and then let it cool down and then add ice to adjust to your liking.
Steeping cold may not extract all the right compounds tea has to offer. According to a Food Chemistry study the stages of these compounds being released looks like this:
One: The first compounds that come through when you submerge tea leaves in water are the chemicals that contribute to tea's aroma and flavor profile
Two: Beneficial micronutrients, flavanols, polyphenols, and caffeine are released
Three: Heavier micronutrients and bitter tannins come out
If you don't steep at the right time or temperature, you miss out on all the benefits of drinking tea in the first place.
How Long To Steep Loose Leaf Tea
Black tea steep time is about three to five minutes. Black teas are usually infused for a longer period of time and higher temperature. This increases their caffeine content and results in a dark, full-bodied cup. Consider a longer steep if adding cream and sugar.
Infuse green teas for about one to three minutes. Green tea can easily become bitter if over-steeped. Go with a shorter green tea steep time and increase along the way so you can taste the difference. Specialty green teas, like Gyokuro and Kabusecha, should be infused for a longer period of time using cooler water.
White tea steep time is about two to three minutes. White tea can be made either from the first buds and tips of the tea plant, or from more mature dried leaves. White teas undergo minimal oxidation, and have a light body and delicate, mellow flavor.
Oolong tea steep time is about one to three minutes. Usually produced in China and Taiwan, oolongs are unique teas that are partially oxidized, placing them somewhere in between black teas and green teas. Oolong teas can be infused multiple times, with subtle variations in flavor to be enjoyed in each successive cup.
Steep pu-erh teas for four to five minutes, similar to black teas. Pu-erh teas can also be prepared using the Chinese Gongfu method, where tea is infused successively for multiple short steeps. These rich, full-bodied teas don’t become as bitter thanks to the aging process they undergo.
This tea was first discovered growing wild in the Assam region of India, and is now grown commercially in Kenya, Africa. Steep purple teas for two to three minutes. Purple tea is produced from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, and the leaves of this new varietal are purple instead of green.
A recommended herbal tea steep time is five or more minutes. Herbal teas should be prepared using boiling water. Unlike many caffeinated teas, herbal teas usually don’t become bitter if you extend the steep time. Some herbal teas, especially those with potent spices like ginger and turmeric, can be infused even longer for an extra flavorful cup.
A great option if you are looking to avoid caffeine. Rooibos teas can be infused for five or more minutes without growing bitter. Native to South Africa, rooibos teas are full of antioxidants, and are a satisfying full-bodied alternative to black teas.
Tea steeping times is not an exact science, and personal preference plays a big role in how long you should infuse your tea. Some people prefer teas on the milder side, while others prefer them to be very strong. Our recommendations for how long to steep your tea are suggestions, not hard and fast rules. Feel free to experiment with different steep times and taste the differences.