A woman is pouring green tea from a small white teapot into a fairness cup. 3 teacups are sitting in front of the fairness cup.

You can do it! You can make a good and drinkable cup of tea.

My Tea Stories 

An electric tea kettle is set at 210 degrees. Next to the kettle, a glass teapot and a gaiwan are sitting on a tray. The gaiwan contains jasmine pearls tea. The caption reads 'The water is too hot (210F) for this jasmine pearls green tea'.

Oftentimes when people hear that I am a certified tea specialist, they become reserved, shy or reluctant talking about tea. Or they might nervously laugh and explain that they can not make a cup of tea. Then they share with me that they feel they don’t know how to make a cup of tea or they are concerned that they will make a mistake in steeping tea. I want to encourage tea lovers to keep steeping tea. Anyone can steep a cup of tea. Don’t let the trepidation of making a mistake, ruining a cup of tea, or making a strong cup of tea be the catalyst for not trying. I would like to share some of my mistakes. I am just a regular person who still has mishaps, blunders and foibles in making a good cup of tea. Hopefully my mishaps can create laughter and a sense of hope that anyone can make a cup of tea. 

One example of my foibles includes situations when I forget I am steeping tea. To be more accurate, I am distracted while steeping a cup of tea. Louie, the dog, is very vocal (barks incessantly) when a person walks in front of our house. If the said person happens to be walking a dog, it is a full blown emergency and my barky fur baby demands immediate attention! I have been in the middle of steeping tea only to have to leave the tea, go to Louie, reassure him and remind him to be quiet. When I do arrive back at the steeping tea, I find it to be over-steeped, very strong, stout and undrinkable. I then have to start all over steeping another cup of tea. 

Another mishap occurs when I am in too big of a hurry to accurately gauge the water temperature for the type of tea I am steeping. I know this is counter culture to the gentle art of patiently waiting for the tea to steep and taking a meditative moment while the tea is steeping. When I am in a hurried state of being, and need the tea pronto, I frequently let the water boil, and then immediately steep green or white tea. What I am confessing is that sometimes I use too hot of a water temperature for a tea instead of waiting for the water to cool down because I am in too big of a hurry. I then have to start all over steeping another cup of tea. 

My last confession is that I sometimes forget to use a tea infuser basket or a disposable tea bag for steeping my tea. I blame this on not being fully awake, and in a sleepy state when I make tea in the mornings. I usually realize this mistake when I go to pour the tea and my cup runs over with tea leaves. I keep the tea but double strain it, and usually reheat it in the microwave because my double straining process markedly cools my tea. I start all over heating, but not steeping, the tea.

I say all this with a light, laughing spirit regarding failed attempts to steep tea. There are times when distractions, being in a hurry, or forgetting to use an infuser basket happens to the (not so) best of us while steeping tea. Steeping tea is part science and part art form. It is exceedingly easy and simple to start over and make another cup that is drinkable if the first one doesn’t work out.

You Can Do It!

A white and gray Scotty dog. The caption reads 'Louie, King Barks a Lot. One of my biggest tea steeping distractions!

I frequently share with people the analogy that if they can make a pan of brownies, or a dish of lasagna, or make jello that actually sets (I am still working on that one: don’t add fresh kiwi or fresh pineapple to jello), then they can make a cup of tea. What is the worst thing that could happen? Wayne Gretzky is quoted as saying “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. If you fail to try to make a cup of tea, you will successfully fail at making a cup of tea every time. At worst, you may have to start over. At best, you just might make the best cup of tea you ever have enjoyed. Plus, an added bonus, you may want to share in your successful steeping of tea and make a cup of tea for someone else to enjoy along with you. 

Help Is On The Way 

A glass teapot, cup, and saucer on a tray. The teapot contains black tea that has not been strained, and the cup contains black tea with small tea leaves strewn over the top and on the saucer. The caption reads 'This photo is depicting what happens when I forget to use an infuser...tea leaves everywhere!

Below is a helpful suggested guide for steeping hot tea. Numerous tea steeping guides can have a five to ten degree variance in suggested steeping times. The main concept to remember is that green and white tea need cooler water temperatures for steeping. Oolong teas ideally should be steeped in water that has not gone to full, rolling boil. Black, herbal, and Pu’erh teas can be steeped in boiling water. Any of these teas can make a creamy, smooth tasting iced using tepid water, and placing in the refrigerator for approximately six or more hours to steep.

Black, Herbal, and Pu-Erh Teas - approximately 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves to approximately 8 oz. of water, using boiling water (about 210 F).

Oolong Teas - roughly 1 teaspoon of tea leaves to roughly 8oz. of water, using roughly around 180 F water.

Green and White Teas - approximately 1 teaspoon tea leaves to 8 oz. water. Different temperature charts can present a range of water temperature from 160F up to 180F. I like to keep things on the cooler side and steep green and white teas around 170F.

I have faith in you, you can do it. I know you can! Just give steeping tea a try. What is the worst that could happen?

Steeping tea through all the distractions,


About The Author

A photo of Leslie on the patio wearing a pink cardiganLeslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Level IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea.  No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!

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