Much of the beauty of tea is there in the steeping process. There is something really magical about seeing these delicate, dried and curled leaves become vibrant and young again. It can be captivating to watch them open up into surprising colors and forms.

In addition to the pleasure of watching the leaves transform, the steeping process ensures that every cup is your own creation. We offer some tips for getting the measurements just right on this page, and some tips for the water temperature on this page. Making a cup or pot of tea is such a simple thing, yet each cup or pot is unique. Tea is a really wonderful combination of simple, beautiful, and unique. This is at the heart of the culture and joy of tea, and something we love to share.

Here we have some general tips for steeping. With these general tips in mind, we also recommend to experiment a little, to find what you enjoy most for each tea.

Because you will want to remove the tea leaves from the water, you will need some way to do that. In the west, we tend to use pots with strainers or sieves, which can be removed with the leaves. You can also find pots with fixed sieves, in which case the pot is emptied when the tea is done steeping, and the leaves are easily removed. Especially in the China, Japan, and other eastern tea cultures, the pot may be the size of a single serving, and not have a sieve. There are also gaiwans, like lidded bowls, in which the tea leaves are steeped, and their liquor (as the steeped liquid is sometimes called) can be poured into another cup for drinking.

At Amsterdam Teas, we strongly recommend that the tea leaves have room to steep, so we don’t tend to use small tea balls or paper sachets. Based entirely on our subjective experience, this really does make a difference. And when we’re in a pinch, without an adequate strainer or sieve, and without a suitable pot or gaiwan, we imitate the gaiwan, steeping tea leaves in one cup and finding a safe and secure way to remove the leaves or transfer the liquid into another cup. It doesn’t happen to us often, but we like to think these little DIY moments go well with tea.

The steeping time is key to the flavor. You can find our recommendations for the steeping time of each of our teas on their packaging and with their other information here at the webshop. In general, a rule of thumb for a tea with a nice, full leaf can be about 2 minutes of steeping time. Some will take a little more time to really let their flavor out. Others, like many fine Japanese teas, will take less time. Some Japanese teas will steep for as little as 30 seconds. One characteristic to keep in mind if you’re trying a new tea for the first time is that for a good tea, the smaller or more delicate the leaf, the less time that it may require to steep.

You can often steep a really good tea multiple times. We recommend you try multiple steepings with all of our teas. A rough rule of thumb is to give each next steeping just a little more time than the last, by about 20-30 seconds. But for senchas and other Japanese teas, the second and third steepings will sometimes require slightly less time than the initial steeping.

Temperatures tend to vary by the kind of tea. We also give you a recommended temperature for each of our teas on their packaging and with their other information here at the webshop. We also offer a few tips on how to get the temperature just right over here. Because black teas are fully oxidized, they can usually take water up to the boiling point. In general, green, yellow and white teas will steep at a lower temperature than black teas. Robust green leaves may be only a little below black teas, at temperatures like 90˚  Celsius, but others, like the fine Japanese gyokuro, will be as low as 60-70˚ . Many good green teas fall between those points at about 80°-85°. Oolongs, which are partially oxidized – resulting in a mix of black and green characteristics – will likewise steep at a mix of temperature between those for black and green teas. Aiming 80°-90° can serve as a rough rule of thumb, lower for a more green oolong, and higher for darker, more oxidized leaves.

Different waters will have different effects on the flavor, but the World Health Organization has indicated 65° to be an effective anti-bacterial temperature, so that a steeping temperature at 65° or above will kill most bacteria. Of course, whether it’s from the tap or some other source, you want to be sure that your water is reliably clean.

The amount of tea and water can really vary with personal taste. Like with the steeping time and water temperature, we give you recommendations for each of our teas on their packaging and with their other information here at the webshop. A general rule of thumb is to use 2-3 grams of tea leaves with 180-250ml water. Again, Japanese teas in particular are often an exception, calling sometimes for more tea and/or less water.

Brewing a cup of tea doesn’t take much, but can still be very personal. We’d love to hear what works best for you! We find the simple craft of making a cup of tea to be a big part of the pleasure. Have a little fun with it, and see what you like best!