Steeping Black Tea
As is true for green, white, and yellow tea, steeping black tea in a gaiwan, a small or large teapot, or even in the cup from which you will drink will all yield delicious results as long as the proportion of leaf-to-water has been considered.
measure your teapot
Fill your teapot with water to its ‘functional capacity’ (the practical level at which it will pour without the contents spilling out from the body of the teapot; also allowing for the addition of the mass of the leaves) and then measure this volume of water in ounces. Divide this number by 6. Most recommendations for the amount of leaf tea to use are based on 6 ounces of water. For example, a 24-ounce teapot generally requires 4 measures of leaf tea to make a full-strength pot of liquid tea.
- Measure of tea:
use 2 to 3 grams of leaf for every 6 ounces of water
For small leaf black teas ( such as Keemun Hao Ya A , Ceylon Koslanda or a CTC tea): use 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of tea.
For medium-size leaf ( such as 1st Flush Castleton Garden Darjeeling or Bai Lin Gong Fu): use 2 teapoons of tea.
For leafy, orthodox-style tea ( such as Ceylon Lover’s Leap, Nepal Everest or Yunnan Jingdong Wuliang): use 1 to 2 Tablespoons
- Water Temperature:
use water that is 190 °F to 200°F.
Asian description: ‘old man water’ – that’s just under a full boil. Or boil the water and let it rest for one minute
- Steeping time:
keep the leaf in the water for the appropriate amount of time
Black tea steeping time varies depending on the cut of the leaf.
Finely cut leaf usually needs just 2 to 3 minutes, whereas a large leaf black tea may need 5 minutes to fully develop.
Some large leaf orthodox black teas, especially China black tea (hong cha) such as Yunnan dian hong and eastern China blacks such as Bai Lin and Golden Monkey can be re-steeped a second time, but most Indian and Ceylon black teas do not re-steep well, if at all. Ultimately the tea drinker is the judge of this, so when in doubt, simply try it! If the results are acceptable, you will have a second (or third) cup of tea; if not, then adjustments can be made to the original steeping methodology, as necessary.
Re-steeping generally works best when the first steeping has been for only a short time (2 to 3 minutes).
Be sure to check the ‘Steeping Instructions’ accordion section of each tea’s detailed product page for any tips or suggestions that we may have published for that tea.
More tea steeping information: