How Much Loose Leaf Tea to Use for One Cup

How to Make Loose Leaf Tea

Learn how much loose leaf tea you need for each cup of water you’re brewing, plus the tools and quick tricks that’ll make steeping every kind of loose tea a breeze!

Before you start steeping, make sure you have your loose tea handy, a way to heat up water, plus your favorite cup and way to strain tea. A set of measuring spoons will also be helpful, but don’t worry if you don’t have a set handy - there are other ways to measure tea without measuring spoons.

When brewing loose leaf tea, it’s helpful to have a tea infuser for simple steeping and easy clean-up. There are several types of infusers you can use to match your particular steeping need, whether you like to make a single cup at a time or several servings in one go. This gold star infuser is perfect for making a single cup and functions as a reusable tea bag. Or, if you don’t want any clean-up at all you can put your own loose tea in these biodegradable paper filters and throw them away or compost them after you’re done steeping.

Sips by is a personalized tea discovery subscription. Each month, we match tea drinkers across the U.S. with delicious teas from over 150 global tea brands that we’re sure they’ll love. Members receive 4 teas chosen just for them in every box. Learn more here.

SHOP BEST LOOSE LEAF TEA

Discover the best loose leaf teas as rated by Sips by's 600,000 tea-loving Members. Across all tea types, from black tea to green tea to herbal tea and more, these are the best loose leaf teas from different tea brands around the world. Find your favorite loose leaf tea - no matter the type or flavor of loose leaf tea you're searching for, Sips by has options you'll love. Discover your new favorite loose leaf tea, as well as disposable tea bag kits to make brewing loose leaf tea easy.

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TYPES OF LOOSE LEAF TEA

How much tea you use per cup will depend on what kind of tea you’re steeping. The tea variety and volume of added ingredients can slightly alter how much loose tea you use and how long you steep it - so for lighter teas with more volume like herbal blends you may need a bit more tea per cup than you would when using strong black tea leaves. All of these variables will slightly change how you prepare your loose leaf tea.

Trust us - while all this math may be overwhelming for a cup of tea, tasting your first cup of deliciously steeped tea will be worth it!

    • Herbal: Herbal teas are made from herbs, fruits, spices and flowers. These caffeine-free blends are characterized by their light, mingling flavors that range from floral to citrusy or sweet to earthy. Because they have so many delicious ingredients mingling together, such as real flowers or chunks of fruit, herbal teas generally have a larger volume compared to other teas and you may need to use more tea when steeping to extract the full flavor it has to offer.

    • Rooibos: Also known as “red bush tea,” rooibos has small needle-like leaves and creates a delicious, antioxidant-rich red brew. Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free and has a slightly sweet, nutty and fruity flavor and aroma, great for drinking by itself or blended with other inclusions such as dried fruits, flowers and spices. Rooibos is simple to steep as the small leaves will infuse easily and can steep for up to 5-10 minutes without becoming bitter.

    • Pu-erh: Pu-erh tea is a prized fermented tea that is often aged until it matures into a smooth, sweet, and rich flavor but young, unaged pu-erh will also have a nicely vegetal and smoky flavor. Pu-erh is known for its many health benefits, including the potential to lower bad cholesterol, help prevent diabetes, and promote digestion. For the best flavor, loose leaf pu-erh should be steeped no longer than 5 minutes.

    • Black: Black tea is the most widely consumed tea in the West. It’s the most heavily oxidized tea, generally with the highest levels of tannins and caffeine, making it brisk and uplifting. Black teas will have a dark liquor and bold taste when steeped, so you’ll generally use less loose leaf tea per cup compared to other types of tea. Be mindful not to over-steep or press your black tea leaves to avoid releasing bitter tannins.

    • Oolong: Oolong tea is a complex, semi-oxidized tea that is ideal for re-steeping. The flavors can range from light to full bodied, floral to creamy, and sweet to toasty. Because there are so many different types of oolong, oolong tea can be steeped anywhere from 1-5 minutes.

    • White: White tea is a beautifully delicate tea known for its subtlety of fragrance, taste and color. White tea is the least processed tea, contains around 10-75mg of caffeine per cup, and often has a distinctly floral character. Most white teas should only be steeped for 1-3 minutes.

    • Green: Green tea is associated with freshness and purity, a high antioxidant content, and other beneficial properties. Flavors can range from mellow and sweet to vegetal and grassy, with nutty, floral, buttery, roasted, fruity, herbaceous or oceanic notes. Most green teas are tricky to steep for beginners as they require low temperatures and steep times or else they will turn bitter.

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HOW MUCH LOOSE LEAF TEA TO USE FOR ONE CUP

Whether you're trying to steep one cup or five, knowing exactly how much loose tea to use can be difficult. Your instinct might be to pour with the heart, but taking the extra bit of time to measure your tea will save you from sipping a bitter cup.


Loose Tea Per 1 Cup (8 oz) Water Ratio
  • White: 2 - 3 tsp
  • Herbal: 1 - 3 tsp
  • Pu-erh: 1 - 3 tsp
  • Oolong: 1 - 2 tsp
  • Rooibos: 1 - 1 ½ tsp
  • Green: 1 - 1 ½ tsp
  • Black: 1 - 1 ½ tsp

The chart above will guide you through how to steep most loose leaf blends from the softest to strongest types of tea, though you should always check the package for instructions on your exact tea. Also, remember that it’s your cup of tea and your tastebuds matter the most! If you prefer your tea stronger, start by adding 1 teaspoon to the recommended amount and increase to taste. If you want a lighter cup of tea, use ½ - 1 teaspoon less than the recommended amount.

Most loose leaf teas are also meant to be re-steeped, as the flavor will change with each steep. We recommend re-steeping your leaves 1-3 times so you can get a new experience in every cup and better value out of your loose tea. Make sure to reuse your wet leaves within 1-3 hours or the delicate flavor in your leaves will start to break down.

HOW MUCH LOOSE LEAF TEA TO USE PER TEAPOT

After getting the hang of steeping one or two cups of tea you'll probably fall in love with the taste so much you’ll want a whole teapot - or maybe you’re nice and just want to share. Either way, we know that you won’t always be making exactly 8 ounces of tea. The converted measurements below will let you know exactly how much tea to use in every situation!

HOW MUCH LOOSE TEA FOR SMALL 2 CUP TEAPOT (12-18 OZ)

  • White: 4 tsp - 2 tbsp
  • Herbal: 1 - 2 tbsp
  • Pu-erh: 1 - 2 tbsp
  • Oolong: 2 - 4 tsp
  • Rooibos: 2 tsp - 1 tbsp
  • Green: 2 tsp - 1 tbsp
  • Black: 2 tsp - 1 tbsp

HOW MUCH LOOSE TEA FOR LARGE 4 CUP TEAPOT (32 oz)

  • White: 2 - 3 tbsp
  • Herbal: 1 - 3 tbsp
  • Pu-erh: 1 - 3 tbsp
  • Oolong: 1 - 2 tbsp
  • Rooibos: 1 - 2 ½ tbsp
  • Green: 1 - 2 ½ tsp
  • Black: 1 - 2 ½ tsp

loose leaf star infuser

HOW MUCH LOOSE TEA TO USE FOR ICED TEA

When making loose leaf iced tea, simply double the normal amount for each type of tea. You can steep loose tea normally and pour it over ice, make cold brew loose tea in the fridge, or practice shinobi-cha, a Japanese method of brewing loose tea directly over ice.

WATER TEMPERATURE FOR LOOSE TEA

You may have never thought about water temperature when using tea bags, but it makes a difference if you want to optimize the flavor extracted from your high quality loose tea leaves. This guide breaks down the recommended water temperature for steeping each type of tea.

  • Herbal: 212℉ // Hard boil
  • Rooibos: 212℉ // Hard boil
  • Pu-erh: 212℉ // Hard boil
  • Black: 205℉-212℉ // Soft boil
  • Oolong: 185℉-195℉ // Light steam
  • White: 175℉-185℉ // Light steam
  • Green: 175℉ // Faint steam

HOW LONG TO STEEP LOOSE TEA

When using a tea bag the general rule for steeping is around 3-5 minutes or just eyeballing your cup to see if it’s dark enough. However, when steeping loose leaf tea you’ll want to be a little more precise so you can get the best possible flavor out of your leaves! Steeping times will vary depending on the type of tea you’re using but our quick guide below will help you determine how long to steep your loose tea.

  • Herbal: 5-10 minutes
  • Rooibos: 6-7 minutes
  • Pu-erh: 2-5 minutes
  • Black: 3-5 minutes
  • Oolong: 2-4 minutes
  • White: 1-3 minutes
  • Green: 2-3 minutes

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

BEST LOOSE TEA COLLECTION

Want to discover the best loose leaf teas as rated by Sips by's 600,000 tea-loving Members? Across all tea types, from black tea to green tea to herbal tea and more, these are the best loose leaf teas from different tea brands around the world. Find your favorite loose leaf tea - no matter the type or flavor of loose leaf tea you're searching for, this Best Loose Leaf Tea Collection has options you'll love. Discover your new favorite loose leaf tea, as well as disposable tea bag kits to make brewing loose leaf tea easy.

Drinking tea out of a double-walled mug

Shop Best Loose Tea Collection


Interested in trying these teas and others? Subscribers receive 4 teas chosen just for them in every box. Learn more here.

About Sips by: We’re a female-founded and led startup that makes discovering tea fun, personalized, and affordable. The Sips by Box is the only multi-brand, personalized tea subscription box. Each month, we match tea drinkers across the U.S. with delicious teas from over 150 global tea brands that we’re sure they’ll love. Based out of Austin, Texas, we are adept at savoring a hot mug even when it’s seasonally inappropriate.

  




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