Looking to make a specific type of tea taste better?
Check out our guides focused on one type of tea:
For tips on how to make all types of hot tea taste good, read on.
Start by brewing your tea at the correct temperature.
The most common mistake people make when brewing green tea or white tea is they steep it in water that is too hot.
So what is the correct temperature to brew tea at? The exact temperature varies based on the type of tea, amount of tea, and your personal preference. This chart provides some solid guidelines.
In general, steeping at a higher temperature will extract slightly more caffeine (in teas that have caffeine) but will also extract more bitter flavors.
Tip: A simple, easy way to gauge the temperature of your water is with an instant read thermometer. They're one of our favorite kitchen gadgets. Instant read thermometers allow us to brew our tea or coffee at the perfect temperature. They're also useful for cooking to ensure that meals have reached the right internal temperature for food safety.
Don't steep your tea too long.
Like brewing temperature, steep time for tea is also subjective. The chart above is a good place to start but depending on your personal preference you might want to steep your tea shorter or longer. Steeping longer will extract slightly more caffeine but will also extract more bitter flavors.
Use the right equipment for loose leaf tea.
It's easy to find a simple, metal ball infuser for loose-leaf tea at a grocery store. However, we think grocery store steepers are usually inadequate for a few reasons:
- They're difficult to open and close.
- They sometimes don't stay closed, which causes tea leaves to accidentally spill into your drink.
- They only hold a very small amount of tea.
- They're not fine enough, which causes tea leaves to accidentally leech into the water.
For this reason we highly recommend the Stainless-Steel Mesh Finum Brewing Basket. It holds more tea than you'll ever need, fits perfectly over a tea cup, doesn't require opening/closing, and can handle finer tea leaves than grocery store steepers. It even makes half-decent cold-brew coffee.
Use filtered water for your tea.
Water quality is less important than tea quality, steep time, or brewing temperature. With that said, using better-tasting water can make a noticeable difference in how your tea tastes. This is particularly true with subtle tasting teas like white teas.
Add a sweetener, spices, or a thickener.
Freshly brewed, high-quality tea tastes great all by itself. However, you can also add a variety of ingredients to make your tea taste more flavorful Here's a few of the most popular add-ins for tea:
- Sweeteners: Raw honey or organic cane sugar works great with pretty much any type of tea. You could also experiment with stevia extract or other types of sweeteners.
- Thickeners: Thickeners like milk, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, or macadamia milk also pair well with pretty much any kind of tea.
- Citrus: One of the most popular types of black tea is Earl Grey tea, which is flavored with bergamot oranges. Lemon works great with most teas. You could also experiment with other citrus flavors like orange, grapefruit, lime, lemon myrtle, lemon balm, or lemongrass.
- Chocolate: Chocolate, cacao powder, or cacao nibs all add an extra caffeine kick and a little more flavor to your tea. Chocolate and cacao are often added to black tea, maté, and oolong tea.
- Vanilla: You can add vanilla via vanilla extract, vanilla powder, or by grinding up whole vanilla beans. Vanilla is commonly mixed with black tea or oolong tea.
- Chai Spices: Chai spices frequently include cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves. However, you could get creative and try other flavors like black peppercorns, white peppercorns, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, or star anise. Chai spices are commonly added to black tea or oolong tea.
- Mint: Mint and green tea is a classic, refreshing summertime combination. A few popular types of mint include peppermint, spearmint, and sweet mint.
- Berries: Berries like blackberries, blueberries, pomegranates, raspberries, and strawberries are often added to herbal tea or green tea.
- Other Fruits: Other fruits are commonly added to white tea, herbal tea, rooibos, and green tea. A few examples are peaches, apples, cherries, coconuts, mangos, pineapples, and apricots.
- Flowers: Add unique flavor and potential nutritional enhancements with dried flowers like jasmine, hibiscus, rose hips, rose petals, or lavender.
- Tulsi Leaves: Tulsi, also known as holy basil, is an aromatic plant that is popular in India and Southeast Asia. Its taste varies from clove-like to lemony depending on the specific type of tulsi.
- Root: Commonly used in home-brewing, flavors like sarsaparilla root, licorice root, and chicory root are also ways to make tea taste better.
And make sure to use high quality tea.
You can brew your tea perfectly but if won't matter if you use low quality tea.
So what makes a variety of tea good? Tea quality often depends on individual plant genetics, growing conditions, and harvesting/processing.
Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to know these facts when you're selecting tea. Therefore, we think buying tea from popular, reputable companies is one of the best ways to get high-quality tea. Here's a few of our favorite, reasonably priced companies:
Flavors, Steep Time, and Brewing Temperature for All Types of Tea
Remember that steep time and brewing temperature is partially based on personal preference. Comparing and contrasting with the first chart can help you find yours.
Green Tea - View Full Guide
- Green Tea Steep Time: 45 seconds to 3 minutes
- Green Tea Brewing Temperature: 165°F to 185°F --- 74°C to 85°C
- What to Add to Green Tea: Mint, Berries, Honey, Lemon, Milk, Jasmine Flowers
- Personal Favorites: Numi Jasmine, Pure Leaf Gunpowder
Black Tea - View Full Guide
- Black Tea Steep Time: 4 minutes to 7 minutes
- Black Tea Brewing Temperature: 195°F to 205°F --- 90°C to 96°C
- What to Add to Black Tea: Chai Spices, Bergamot Orange, Milk, Chocolate, Vanilla
- Personal Favorites: Harney & Sons Vanilla/Caramel, Stash Double Bergamot Earl Grey
- White Tea Steep Time: 3 minutes to 5 minutes
- White Tea Brewing Temperature: 165°F to 175°F --- 74°C to 80°C
- What to Add to White Tea: Peach, Berries, Mango, Jasmine Flowers
- Oolong Tea Steep Time: 2 minutes to 4 minutes
- Oolong Tea Steep Temperature: 195°F to 205°F --- 90°C to 96°C
Chamomile Tea - View Full Guide
- Chamomile Tea Steep Time: 5 minutes to 10 minutes
- Chamomile Tea Brewing Temperature: 200°F to 212°F --- 93°C to 100°
- What to Add to Chamomile Tea: Honey, Lemon, Lavender, Mint, Licorice Root
- Personal Favorite: Yogi Honey Lavender Stress Relief
- Herbal Tea Steep Time: 5 minutes to 10 minutes
- Herbal Tea Brewing Temperature: 200°F to 212°F --- 93°C to 100°C
- Ginger Tea Steep Time: 5 minutes to 10 minutes
- Ginger Tea Brewing Temperature: 200°F to 212°F --- 93°C to 100°C
- What to Add to Ginger Tea: Honey, Lemon, Chai Spices, Vanilla, Milk
- Personal Favorite: Rishi Turmeric Ginger
- Kava Tea Steep Time: 5 minutes to 10 minutes
- Kava Tea Brewing Temperature: 205°F to 212°F --- 96°C to 100°C
- What to Add to Kava Tea: Cinnamon, Honey, Chai Spices, Vanilla, Milk
- Personal Favorite: Yogi Kava Stress Relief
- Maté Tea Steep Time: 5 minutes to 10 minutes
- Maté Tea Brewing Temperature: 208°F to 212°F --- 97°C to 100°C
- What to Add to Maté Tea: Mint, Chocolate, Lemon
- Personal Favorites: Guayaki Enlighten Mint, Numi Maté Lemon
- Rooibos Tea Steep Time: 5 minutes to 10 minutes
- Rooibos Tea Brewing Temperature: 208°F to 212°F --- 97°C to 100°C
- What to Add to Rooibos Tea: Cinnamon, Apples, Ginger