How To Brew The Perfect Cup Of Tea

Make a proper cuppa.

cups of brewed tea with cookies and lemon slices

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

A warm cup of brewed tea is a great idea when the chill sinks into your bones on a cold winter day or your throat has a little tickle. But you'll need to know how to properly brew tea so you enjoy the cup you have.

Here, learn how to brew tea for a hot drink. Plus, learn how to turn hot, brewed tea into your favorite iced tea drinks.

How To Brew Tea

To brew hot tea, first bring water to a boil in a stovetop or electric kettle, but don’t let it boil for a long period: Pour the water over the tea as soon as it starts to boil, as over-boiling reduces oxygen and can compromise the taste of the tea. 

For lighter or more delicate teas (like white or green), let the water cool slightly after boiling and before pouring over the tea.

For a single cup of tea, use a teaspoon of loose-leaf tea or one tea bag (which contains about a teaspoon of tea). For a pot, use multiple tea bags or about a teaspoon of loose tea per cup.

How long should tea brew?

After pouring the hot water over the tea, let it steep for about three to seven minutes. Part of this time range comes down to personal preference: If you like stronger tea, keep steeping for longer. And if you prefer a subtler tea (or less caffeine), steep it for less time. (You can taste as you go to get the perfect cup.)

pouring hot water into a tea cup with a tea bag

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

But even if you like strong tea, don’t let the bags sit in the cup or pot for too long: Over-steeping makes tea bitter. And almost no amount of cream or sugar can save that.

How Do You Make Brewed Tea Into Iced Tea?

After you’ve brewed hot tea, you can turn it into iced tea by… simply adding ice. To ensure the right strength after dilution, make your brewed hot tea twice as strong as you typically would.

Can you make any tea into iced tea?

Black teas are most typically used to make iced tea, but you can use any variety to make your custom cup. Fruity teas often make seasonal favorite iced teas, and green, white, and oolong blends are perfectly refreshing.

How To Cold Brew Tea

You can also use a cold-brewing method to get iced tea without ever using boiling water. To do this, simply put tea in cold water—about one bag or teaspoon per cup—and let it steep in the fridge for at least two hours (but typically not more than 10). This can actually improve the taste of iced tea by retaining sweetness and reducing bitterness. 

Try a version of this method to make sun tea: Simply let the tea steep for several hours in the sun before adding ice.

How Do You Brew Tea for Sweet Tea?

Sweet tea prepared in the classic Southern style comprises three steps: First, brew black tea (we suggest steeping for about 15 minutes). Then, sweeten it with sugar while it’s hot, and chill it until it’s cold before serving it over ice.

Start with water brought to a roiling boil (212°F), and pour it over the tea bags. Let it steep until the tea is very dark, nearly opaque. Add the sugar after—not before—removing the tea bags.

We also suggest adding a little baking soda to your tea if you want crystal clear tea.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles