Thistle Dew! Farms, Teas 'n Bees

How To Brew a Perfect Pot of Tea


Good water is crucial:
  • For best results, use artesian water.
  • Fill an empty kettle with fresh cold water.
  • If using tap water, let the water run for 30 seconds so that it is fresh.

Warm your pot:
  • While the water is heating, fill your teapot with hot tap water to preheat it. Alternatively, you can briefly hold your teapot over the steaming kettle (don't get too close).
  • Warming your teapot prevents cracking that can occur when boiling water is placed in a room temperature pot, and it helps the brewed tea maintain the proper temperature.
  • Discard the water once the pot is warm.

Measure Your Tea:
  • For loose tea, place approximately one teaspoon of tea leaves per cup into the pot, or into an infuser placed in the pot. (The amount depends on the type of tea and personal preference.)
  • If you don't have loose tea, use one tea bag per 1-2 cups, depending on the size of the bag and personal preference.

Boil Water:
  • As soon as the water comes to a boil, remove it from the heat.
  • Overheating the water reduces its oxygen content and causes the tea to taste flat.
  • Immediately pour the water into the pot, cover, and let stand.
  • If using green or white tea, allow the water to cool slightly before pouring onto the leaves (ideal temperature 158°-203°F).
  • NOTE: At an altitude of 5000 feet, water boils at 202°F instead of 212°F, so you don't need to cool the water much.

Steep Your Tea:
  • How long to steep depends on how strong you like your tea and the type of tea you're using.
  • Do not judge by color because some teas brew light while others brew dark.
  • Small leaves brew more quickly and are usually ready in two to three minutes; medium leaves in three to five minutes; large leaves in six.
  • Most teas will taste bitter if you steep longer than six minutes.
  • If you have used an infuser or tea bags, remove them from the pot when the tea has reached the desired strength.
  • Tea bags steep more quickly because the leaves are finely cut, so don't let them steep too long. You may squeeze the bags gently before removing them from the pot to reduce drips (tea bag squeezers make this very easy).
  • If you placed loose leaves directly into the pot, you may want to pour the tea into a second warmed pot through a strainer to separate the tea from the leaves. This will prevent the tea from becoming bitter. But if you plan to pour all the tea into cups soon, simply place a strainer over the cup and pour slowly from the original pot.

Keep Your Tea Hot:
  • If your teapot will be sitting for a while with tea in it, use a tea cozy to keep the tea at the proper temperature.
  • There are two types of cozies: an "over the top" cozy sits over the pot and must be removed to pour tea; a serving cozy wraps around the pot, leaving the handle and spout exposed for pouring. Both keep tea hot for long periods, depending on the quality of the cozy.
  • It is important, however, not to use a cozy if there are still tea leaves in the pot, since the excess heat will make the tea taste bitter. Only use a cozy if you have removed the tea leaves.

Adding Lemon, Sugar, or Milk:
  • If you add lemon and sugar to your tea, add the sugar first, since the citric acid from the lemon will prevent the sugar from dissolving.
  • Milk is often used in full-bodied teas such as India and Ceylon teas.
  • There is a debate over whether to add milk to the cup before or after the tea; according to the British Standards Institute, milk should be placed in the cup first.
  • Don't use cream as it interferes with the taste of the tea.

  • To wash your teapot, simply rinse with hot water and turn upside-down to dry.
  • Never put it in the dishwasher or use soap.
  • To remove stains, fill with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda and boiling water and soak overnight. Then rinse thoroughly and let dry.


Making a great cup of tea is not hard, and just requires a few simple steps to make sure the tea comes out tasting its absolute best.

Good Water

A great cup of tea starts with the water you use, which is especially true for drinking our teas with a subtle taste, like our White and Green teas, where any residual taste in the water can easily overwhelm the tea's taste.  If you happen to live somewhere with access to natural, clean spring or stream water then that is definitely the best water to use.  However if you're not one of those lucky few, then fresh bottled spring water – not “mineral” water – or filtered tape water is best.  That is preferred over untreated tap water, unless you live in an area with particularly clean and fresh tap water.

The water you use should be fresh, and most importantly, it should not contain a lot of minerals, especially calcium or iron and have a neutral pH.  If you use “hard” water – water with a high mineral content – the minerals can react with the antioxidants and other chemicals in the tea to reduce their effectiveness, as well as masking the tea's taste and aroma with a metallic overtone.

It's best if the water also has a high oxygen content.  Filtered tap water will naturally have a lot of oxygen, but if you use bottled water you should shake it first for 10 or 20 seconds to “freshen” it up by dissolving oxygen from the air.  You should also stop boiling the water as soon as it boils.  If you boil it longer, the dissolved oxygen will quickly be removed.

Your Teapot

The teapot you use will also affect the taste, by changing how quickly the water cools in the pot.  If you have teas that need a longer steeping time, like black and green teas, you should try to use a teapot that resists cooling.  Cast iron is especially good, but expensive (and heavy!).  The more traditional ceramic and porcelain teapots are also very good, as they are good insulators – and of course can be very beautiful!

In China the material and appearance of a tea set is also something that is of importance, and  people will use tea sets made from different materials for different types of teas, that include “purple-sand” tea sets (a type of Chinese ceramic that has a distinctive purple color due to the use of a type of iron-rich sand), porcelain and glass tea sets.  People often use glass for green and white teas – and flower teas of course, purple-sand sets for Pu'Er and porcelain or purple-sand sets for Oolong and black teas.

Next, you want to check that your teapot is clean.  Over time, especially with black teas, a pot can develop a darkish film from the tannin in the tea.  This can alter the taste of the tea, again especially true if you drink subtle flavoured white and green teas.

...or brew in a glass!

Many Chinese teas, especially Green, White and – of course - Flower teas, are very attractive when they open up in the water as they steep.  Indeed, this is what initially gave rise to the idea of making Flower Teas.  In China, these teas are usually brewed directly in a clear glass, and not in a pot, so that you can not just enjoy the taste and aroma, but also watch the slowly changing shapes the tea takes as it infuses in the glass.

Water Temperature

OK, now that you're ready to make the tea, the most vital part in the whole process is the temperature of the water.  Different teas must be brewed at different temperatures.

Before brewing the tea, it is important that you pre-heat the teapot to avoid it cooling the water as soon as it is added, especially true for cast iron teapots.  Simply put some boiling water into the pot for a minute, then empty.

Thistle Dew! tea descriptions all list the temperature each particular tea needs.  In particular, Green and White Teas must be steeped at a lower temperature, around 160°F-180°F (70°C-80°C) to avoid the tea taking on a bitter taste.  When we ship you your tea, we include detailed brewing instructions to make sure you enjoy your tea to the fullest.

One simple way to get the right temperature for Green and White teas, is to stop heating the water before it comes to a complete boil by listening for when the water first sounds like it is starting to boil.  When the noise from the kettle starts to take on a quieter, deeper sound, you know it is around the right temperature for these teas.

How much tea

You also want to check that you use the right amount of tea and water.  Again, all Thistle Dew! tea's come with complete instructions that let you know how much tea to use with how much water.  This is more a matter of taste however, adding extra tea to the water will just result in a stronger, bolder flavour to the tea.  As a rule of thumb, about 1-2 teaspoons of tea per cup is usually in the right ballpark.

Now you're ready to steep the tea, you want to add the tea before the water.  If you add the water first, the tea will tend to float and stick to the top of the water, and so not properly steep in the water.

How long to Steep

You also need to steep each tea for the appropriate amount of time.  Too short a time and the tea's flavour, aroma and beneficial chemicals will not have enough time to diffuse out into the water.  Too long and the tea's taste will change, usually becoming more bitter or astringent.  For the first infusion, white tea's typically steep for around 30 seconds, green teas for around 2 minutes, and black teas for anything up to 5 minutes.

Unlike common “bagged” tea, Chinese loose leaf tea can be used – or “infused” - several times.  When you infuse the tea several times, you typically want to increase the steeping time by about 15-30 seconds each time.   The number of times you can infuse a tea is down to personal taste and the type of tea.  Generally tea's made from tea buds – like white and green teas – can only be infused 2-3 times, black and oolong tea's 3-5 times, while Pu'er tea can be happily infused up to 10 times.

One important thing to note is that you should not try to steep the tea for a longer time to get a stronger taste.  Instead just add more tea leaves – a longer brewing time will usually result in the tea taking on a more bitter, astringent taste.

Our instructions will include the typical number of times each tea can be infused, before it starts to loose its taste.

Finally, before you drink the tea, you should pre-heat the cups.  Pre-heating the cup helps ensure that the tea doesn't cool too much after it is poured, so preserving it's taste and aroma.

That's it!  Your done and now will have a great tasting tea that gets the absolute best taste and aroma out of your Thistle Dew! tea.

The table below gives you a good general outline of the type of material, amount of tea, water temperature and brewing times for different types of teas.

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