Why Is My Loose Leaf Tea Weak? – Tips for a Better Brew

You did it! You found a loose leaf tea you liked the sound of, you bought an infuser, made a beautiful-smelling cup of tea and… it just tastes like water. But don’t just pour it down the sink and shove those tea leaves to the back of the cupboard! Consider these top tips to brew a perfect cup of loose leaf tea every time.

If your loose leaf tea is weak, try brewing the tea for longer (typically for around 3-4 minutes) or with hotter water (usually around 100°C, right after the kettle has boiled). This allows the tea to infuse better, meaning you’ll get more flavor from the leaves.

More specifically, the best way to brew depends on the type of tea used, as well as your personal tastes. We’ve got the definitive guide to make sure your loose leaf tea tastes just as good as it smells!

1. Make sure you steep the tea for the right amount of time

There’s nothing worse than a weak cup of tea, and by far the most common reason for a watery, dissatisfying cuppa is that the tea simply hasn’t had long enough to infuse. In today’s rapid-fire world, it’s easy to get impatient and remove the tea leaves as soon as possible – but pull the trigger too early, and you’ll be left with a flavor profile thinner than a wet matchstick.

For black and herbal teas, brew for at least three minutes, and for no longer than five minutes. That can feel like an eternity when you’re stood watching the mug, but it’s worth it. Be warned, however: after five minutes or so, black teas begin to release tannins, which can contribute to a bitter flavor. Who among us hasn’t accidentally left a cup of tea to brew for too long? That sharp taste of an over-brewed cup of tea is one to be avoided at all costs.

For white teas, the recommended brewing time is much less: between one and three minutes. However, if you’re looking for a much punchier flavor, feel free to allow the leaves to steep for longer.

2. Use the correct amount of loose leaf tea

It might seem obvious, but one reason your cup of loose leaf tea tastes so weak is that you simply aren’t using enough tea! After all, teabags are easy – simply drop the bag in the mug and you’re on your way to a lovely brew – but when we actually have to think about the amount of tea we’re using, it’s easy to lose our way. Thankfully, it’s not as complicated as it might seem.

For black tea, use one heaped teaspoon for the perfect cup of tea. For herbal teas and white teas, which typically have a more delicate flavor profile, use two heaped teaspoons. Of course, how much you use ultimately depends on your tastes, and how luxurious you want your cup of tea to be, but start with these measurements in mind and you won’t go far wrong.

But wait! What even is a heaped teaspoon? A ‘heap’ isn’t much of a useful measurement! What if I have a bizarre spoon that’s either incredibly flat or remarkably deep? Well, thankfully companies like Bird & Blend sell a so-called ‘Perfect’ teaspoon, designed to give you a precise ‘heap’ every time.

3. Make sure the water is heated to the correct temperature

Whether you like your tea hot, cold-brewed, or iced, there’s one thing we can all agree on: you can’t make a good cup of tea with lukewarm water. In fact, there’s a level of precision that might surprise you when it comes to boiling tea.

When it comes to black and herbal teas, it’s very important to pour the hot water over the leaves right as it boils – around 100° Celsius (or 212° Fahrenheit). It might not be the most energy-efficient way to brew tea, especially if you aren’t stood right next to the kettle, waiting for it to boil, but it is the most flavor-efficient!

For more delicate teas, such as white teas and oolong teas, using boiling water is more likely to scald the leaves. As a result, you should pour the water at approximately 85-90° Celsius (or 185-195° Fahrenheit). The easiest way to do this is to exercise the three-second rule: boil the water, wait three seconds, and then pour.

Tea TypeWater Temperature
Herbal & Fruit100°C/212°F

4. Use a cup or infuser with enough space for loose leaf tea

This one is less obvious to loose leaf tea beginners: the size of the cup or mug you use can have a significant effect on the flavor of your tea. Why? Well, it’s one of the reasons why loose leaf tea often tastes better than tea from mass-produced teabags.

Think back to high school science and it begins to make a bit more sense. If something is steeped in water, that water gets absorbed. In a cup of tea, the chemical reaction works both ways: as the tea leaves take on water, the water takes on the flavor of the tea. In order to get the best-tasting cup of tea, the leaves need enough space (or, more specifically, enough surface area) to allow the reaction to take place.

In practice, this means you’re more likely to get a weaker cup of tea when brewing in a tall and narrow cup or infuser – and a better one when brewing in something wider. Why not experiment and taste the difference for yourself?

5. Make sure to use high-quality tea

Because loose leaf tea isn’t apportioned into teabags in a factory, the quality of taste – and the strength of the tea – can vary significantly. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re using high-quality tea when you brew.

A simple barometer of tea quality is to inspect the size and condition of the leaves you’re using to brew: are the leaves crushed and powdery, or are they intact? Is the tea pungent, as it should be, or is it stale and scentless? If you’re not sure what to measure against, cut open a store-bought teabag and observe how the tea inside is often little more than powder and dust. It makes sense that only good tea leaves make for a good cup of tea!


What's not to like about tea? From sweet herbal infusions to rich black blends, there's a whole world of tea out there to discover, including the one that's right for you. I'll help you find it.

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