Brewing loose leaf tea: better to learn the principle than step 1-2-3

More and more tea drinkers now are aware that you are in a better chance of getting a descent cup of tea by using whole leaf teas. Many inexperienced tea drinkers are however at loss when it comes to loose leaf tea brewing. 

Some tea suppliers seek to address this by offering step 1-2-3. Although these instructions could get you started if you are completely naïve to loose teas, they however can turn into restriction with time to stop you brewing a ‘real’ pot of premium tea. 

We therefore advocate to learn also the principle. Once this is understood, loose tea brewing is not such a myth really. 

Understanding loose leaf teas

Various teas are made of leaves of various degrees of tenderness (the focus here is of course the premium loose leaf teas):

  • Most of the premium green teas are made of very young and tender tip leaves
  • White teas are ranked according to the levels of the tenderness of the leaves (Silver Needle contains the tip needle leaves only which is the top of the range; White Peony contains the tip leaf plus a couple of leaves below; the lower grades contain more and more mature leaves and less tips etc)
  • Most of the Oolong teas are made of relatively mature leaves
  • Black teas vary, some made of tip leaves and others mature leaves
  • Most of Pu-erh teas are a mixture of both tip and mature leaves, and harvested from tea trees instead of tea shrubs. 

With this understanding, the thumb of rule for tea brewing is: the younger the tea leaves are, the lower the water temperature should be and shorter brewing time required. For example, always use 100oC water for Pu-erh teas, but only about 90oC for green teas. 

The principle of brewing loose leaf teas

The rest are quite simple: 

  • Always rinse the leaves (add hot water for about 5-10 seconds and dispose the water)
  • ½ - 1 minute for the first brew and increasing the brewing time for 30 second with each additional brew. 
  • The tea leaves can be used repeatedly until the flavour is no more: the mature leaf teas last much longer than the young leaf ones, eg some of the Pu-erh teas can be used up to 30 times while most the green teas can only be used for 3-4 times. 
  • Control you preferred tea strength by: the amount the leaves put in and brewing time. 

So, the thing to be avoided is to constrict yourself. Experiment with different tea varieties, the amount of leaves put in and tea brewing time, tea vessels to use etc. You will find your niche of brewing very soon and it is not nearly as hard as some make it out to be. 

Last thing to remember, loose leaf tea is a dynamic drink that what is perfect for someone else may not be even close to be ideal for you. Explore and enjoy the experience of exploring. 



Last modified onWednesday, 20 July 2016 13:37
En Jie Rudd

The founder and owner of Valley Green Tea

I grew up in the Fu-Jian Province – the tea country of China. Tea drinking has been part of our daily life for as long as I can remember.

While I was working as a public health researcher a few years ago, I read many research reports conducted over the last 30 years about the health benefits of green tea in fighting certain life style related challenges such as cancer, obesity, cardio-vascular and inflammatory diseases etc.

From my research, I realised there is a significant gap between what people consume (i.e. commercial tea bags) for assumed health benefits and the actual benefits that have been enjoyed by the Chinese for a long history from the premium loose leaf teas.

As well as being potentially beneficial to health, the premium loose teas (green tea being the biggest group) are most enjoyable beverages with a fascinating history, colourful culture and holistically dynamic in every aspect.

It is my passion to share, not only the products, but also the whole culture dynamics around the premium teas with the tea enthusiasts, here in Australia and around the world.

Valley Green Tea currently supplis a diverse range of premium loose teas to the tea drinking community that suit all tastes and all cultures and to pass on a deep understanding of the history and benefits of this wonder beverage.


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