Making tea

Types of tea

There’s no trick to making good tea, just follow our guidelines and you can’t go wrong. Generally speaking, one or two teaspoonfuls are added to 150 ml of water plus one more teaspoonful “for the pot”. Setting a timer with the correct time of infusion is invaluable. There are numerous timer apps available for smartphones, including those especially for brewing tea.

Here’s the lowdown on how to brew specific types of tea...

Black tea

This is one of the easiest teas to make. Steep it for two to three minutes to benefit from its stimulating effects, while extending that to five minutes gives an infusion which aids digestion. However, some variation is acceptable depending on the type of tea and the desired taste profile. For example, a robust Assam drinks well with milk. Remember to only make one brew from a single amount of the tea – no multiple infusions here, because it’ll have no flavour the second time around. Only certain other teas can be infused several times to varying effect, e.g. pure green tea and pu-erh.

Green tea

A little care is needed when making green tea. Boil the water as usual, then let it cool for a couple of minutes in order to drop to around 80 degrees. A common mistake is to pour really hot water onto green tea, resulting in a brew made bitter by the tannins brought out in it. A general rule-of-thumb is to infuse the tea for 2-3 minutes using water at 70-80 degrees C. An advantage of pure green tea is that is possible to infuse the same leaves two or three times.


This is a semi-green tea, so it’s best to use water at approximately 90 degrees C (or less). Brew it like green tea and it’ll turn out just fine (3 min. at 70-80C). However, experimenting with steeping times of two to five minutes is usual for Oolong. Again, multiple infusions are possible – the leaves may be used up to five times.

Yellow tea

Yellow tea is popular due to its distinct aroma and excellent flavour profile. Once more, pouring water at around 80 degrees C onto yellow tea leaves and steeping it for three minutes is ideal. The leaves can be infused for up to three times.

White tea

Pour over water at around 90 degrees C and steep it for up to five minutes. Start out at two minutes, and then experiment to find what time of infusion suits you best. Up to three brews may be made from one batch of leaves.

Blooming tea

These have become quite popular because they’re so beautiful. Of course, it’s recommended to brew them in a glass teapot to get the best view of them opening up and revealing their inner secrets. Pour over water at 80-90 degrees C and leave the tea in the pot for three minutes. Three brews can be had from blooming teas.

Fruit tea

Fruit tea is incredibly tasty and so easy to make. It’s almost impossible to steep fruit tea for too long, although an astringent and sourish edge might result occasionally. Boiling water is used, and the usual time for infusion is five to eight minutes.

Rooibos and Honeybush teas

These two are similar in taste, appearance and preparation. Use boiling water and steep the tea for five minutes, but it won’t spoil if you leave it for longer than that. Multiple infusions aren’t possible as the subsequent brews lack flavour, so only steep Rooibos and Honeybush once.

Herbal tea

There are many and various types, requiring a little variation in their preparation. Boiling water is poured onto the herbs, which are then left to steep for between eight and fifteen minutes. Please read the instructions on the pack and follow them for best results. The issue is that herbal teas can turn bitter if not prepared properly. Only brew the herbs once as they aren’t suitable for multiple infusions.


There are two distinct methods for preparing this type of tea - the original South American way or the easier European one. In South America, the tea is prepared in dried gourd, known as a calabash. Initially, warm water is poured over two or three teaspoons of the tea. A few minutes later, hot water is poured into the vessel. After three minutes the tea is ready. However, if this is a little too complicated, the European variation is simplicity itself - water at 80 degrees C and a steeping time of three to five minutes.

Ayurvedic tea

No complicated instructions here. All you need is boiling water, which is poured over the tea and then left to steep for five to eight minutes.

Lapacho tea

This is credited with being beneficial for the human organism. Its preparation is slightly different to other teas. Use one soup spoonful of lapacho tea for one litre of water. Bring the tea to the boil in the water and simmer it for five minutes. Then allow the lapacho to steep for another fifteen minutes.


We’ll outline the ordinary preparation of it here, but traditional Gongfu style is another option and might prove highly rewarding. A lot depends on the exact pu-erh in question, especially whether its green or black in form. The chief difference lies in the temperature of the water used. For the green type, a temperature of 80 degrees C is best, while the black varieties call for hotter water. Steep it for three to five minutes.

Iced tea

Preparing it hot

Use the recommended quantity of the tea (see the label), pour it into a warmed teapot and add boiling water. Allow to steep for the time specified. Then strain the brew and sweeten to taste.

To serve, fill glasses or a jug up to 2/3 of capacity with ice cubes, and pour over the hot tea evenly.

The contrasts in temperature mean the tea will retain all its active substances, taste and aroma, compared to a tea that’s just left to cool.

Preparing it cold

To make what’s known as a “cold brew”, use double the quantity of the tea specified on the label, tip it into a glass vessel and pour in cold water to 2/3 of capacity. Steep for 10-15 minutes, then strain the liquid into a pot or jug 1/3 filled with ice. Sit back and enjoy!

Tip: Use sugar, lemon and other ingredients for additional flavouring shortly before the tea is poured onto the ice cubes. This is because it’s very hard for any sweetener to dissolve once the tea is cooled by the ice.

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