Western vs. Eastern Style Brewing

How do you brew tea?

How you brew tea has a lot to do with where you live and how your culture was originally introduced to the delicious wonders of tea. While there are many nuances to brewing tea, there are two popular brewing styles that stand out as favorites: Western and Eastern. Western brewing will be familiar to most of us who live in the US and Europe, with large teapots or mugs, a relatively high ratio of water to tea and longer steep times. This is the style that was popularized in Europe and we associate with afternoon tea. In Eastern or Traditional brewing, tea is generally steeped in smaller pots or gaiwans with a higher ratio of tea to water and shorter steep times. In this guide, we will explore how to brew tea in both styles, as well as how to make chai concentrate, cold brew iced tea, and more!

How to Brew Tea: Western Tea Service

Learn how to brew tea in a Western-style tea service with Hayley from Saratoga Tea & Honey Co.

Western Brewing

How to Brew White Tea

For Silver Needle teas (comprised entirely of downy buds), we recommend brewing 5 grams of white tea buds in 16 ounces of 175° - 185° F water for 5-7 minutes. For bud and leaf white teas like Bai Mu Dan Wang, we recommend brewing 5 grams of tea in 16 ounces of 185° F water for 3 minutes.

Western Brewing

How to Brew Green Tea

We recommend brewing 5 grams of green tea in 16 ounces of 160° - 185° F water for 2 minutes. Japanese green teas such as Sencha will typically benefit from brewing with water on the cooler end of this spectrum (~160-165° F).

Western Brewing

How to Brew Oolong Tea

Most oolongs benefit from brewing 5 grams of oolong tea in 16 ounces of 195° F water for 3 minutes. If you are brewing a rolled oolong, we recommend a brief rinse of your leaves at the same temperature before brewing. Don't forget to save your leaves, as many oolongs resteep 3-5 times in a Western-style pot.

Western Brewing

How to Brew Black Tea

We recommend brewing 5 grams of black tea to 16 ounces of 205° F water for 3-5 minutes. Fans of particularly robust black tea (esp. with a splash of milk) may want to brew 8 grams for 5 mintues.

Western Brewing

How to Brew Aged Tea

Aged teas fall into two categories, raw and ripe. For raw (sheng) aged teas, we recommend a brewing temperature of 195° F. For ripe (shou) aged teas, we recommend a brewing temperature of 205° F. Both types of aged tea should be brewed at a ratio of 5 grams to 16 ounces of water and may benefit from a rinse. Don't forget to save your leaves, as these teas are particularly suited to re-steeping!

Western Brewing

How to Brew Scented Teas

Most scented teas will be best brewed like their base tea. We recommend using a ratio of 5 grams of tea to 16 ounces of water. Some scented teas that are meant to be particularly robust may benefit from using 8 grams of tea, longer steep times, or slightly hotter water.

Western Brewing

How to Brew Herbal Teas

Herbal Tisanes are some of the easiest teas to brew. Brew 5 grams of your favorite herbal infusion in 16 ounces of boiling water for 3-5 minutes and enjoy! Remember: the longer you steep, the more benefit you will extract from your medicinal herbals!

How to Brew: Traditional Gongfu Teaware

Learn how to brew in a traditional Gaiwan with Hayley

Eastern Brewing

How to Brew in a Chinese Gaiwan or Yixing Pot

Brewing in a gaiwan or small Chinese teapot is one of our favorite methods. Each steep is quick and the method is perfect for lingering over multiple resteeps. After preheating your teaware, simply fill your gaiwan or small teapot 1/3 full with leaves (slightly less for rolled oolongs) and cover with the appropriate temperature water. Steep 20-60 seconds (20-30 for green teas and light oolongs, 45-60 seconds for black and aged teas). Resteep many times at decreasing time intervals to enjoy the full potential of your leaves.

How to Brew in a Japanese Kyusu

Learn traditional brewing methods for Japanese green tea with Hayley

Eastern Brewing

How to Brew in a Japanese Kyusu

Prewarm your kyusu with 145° - 175° F water and discard. For a 260ml kyusu, add 7 grams of Japanese green tea. Cover with 145° - 175° F water and steep for 15-30 seconds. Resteep at decreasing time intervals.

SpecialTEA Brewing

How to Make Chai Tea Concentrate

Yield: 2 quarts chai concentrate

For the Concentrate:

Heat 2.5 quarts of water in a saucepan with 30 grams of loose leaf chai (~ 3 tea scoops) and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 60-90 minutes. Cool your concentrate, strain, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, heating portions to serve. Hint: we put our loose leaf chai in nut milk bags when making concentrate to make the tea easy to strain.

Making a Chai Latte:

Compose your chai latte using a ratio of 2/3 chai concentrate and 1/3 frothed milk. We reocmmend using Cinnamon Infused Honey to sweetend your chai.

SpecialTEA Brewing

How to Make Cold Brew Iced Tea

Using a ratio of 24 grams of loose tea (~6-8 tsp) to 2 quarts of water, cover your leaves in cold water from the tap and brew overnight in the refrigerator (~8-12 hours). Cold brewing is our recommended method for making traditional teas iced. For some scented and herbal teas, you may want to use warm tap water to extract more scent from your teas.

How to Hot Brew Iced Tea

Using a ratio of 24 grams of tea (~6-8 tsp) to 2 quarts water, fill your pitcher or container haflway with hot water and steep for 10-15 minutes. Remove your leaves and add cold water. Chill, serve, and enjoy!