Surprise! You’re Making Tea All Wrong

From how you store it to how you pour it, it’s time to leave these mistakes behind so you can upgrade your next sip.


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Mistake #1: Using the Wrong Water

Brewing tea

Photo courtesy of Twinings of London

Photo courtesy of Twinings of London

If you were having a glass of water would you drink it from the faucet or pull the filtered kind from your fridge? If you answered filtered, then that’s what you’ll want to put in your favorite mint, peach or ginger tea, too. “Your end cup of tea is over 98% water,” explains William Dietz, manager of tea research and development for DAVIDsTEA. “If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, don’t use it to brew your tea or coffee.”

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Mistake #2: Bouncing Your Tea Bag

Making tea

Photo courtesy of Twinings of London

Photo courtesy of Twinings of London

No need to jiggle it. Not even a little bit. “When making tea from a tea bag, people want to jiggle it about, thinking it will speed the brewing process. It won’t,” says Stephen Twining, 10th generation Twining and master blender. “Tea needs time so just let it alone and it will taste better.”


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Mistake #3: Burning the Leaves

Making tea

Courtesy of Twinings of London

Courtesy of Twinings of London

The side of the box or tin your tea came in should have instructions on exactly how hot the water should be for ideal brewing—and it’s worth paying attention to. “If the water is too hot, in some cases you can burn or overcook the leaves and a bitter taste comes out,” explains Dietz. “A good rule of thumb is that white and green teas need a lower water temp to avoid over-extracting.” If you’re trying to keep your beloved Earl Grey warmer for longer try using a mug with a lid on it to keep the heat in.


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Mistake #4: Ignoring Your Leaf-to-Water Ratio

Making tea

Photo courtesy of DAVIDsTEA

Photo courtesy of DAVIDsTEA

Tea cups (and pots) come in all sizes, but so often we plop one bag in no matter how much water there is. “Pay attention to your dosage,” says Dietz. If you don’t your result could be a far too weak chamomile or far too strong pumpkin spice black tea. DAVIDsTEA has a “perfect spoon” for measuring out exactly how many loose leaves you need per 16-ounce cup of water. Bagged teas will tell you exactly how much water to add.


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Mistake #5: Reheating Your Water

Making tea

Photo courtesy of Twinings of London

Photo courtesy of Twinings of London

When you boil water, you push out some of the dissolved oxygen,” explains Twining. “That’s the part of water that gets the flavor of the leaf. Repeat heating really reduces the amount present and so no flavor gets into the water.” Aim for one and done instead


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Mistake #6: Not Watching the Clock

Making tea

Photo courtesy of DAVIDsTEA

Photo courtesy of DAVIDsTEA

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of just leaving the tea bag in your cup until you’re done. Here’s the thing: how long you let those leaves work their magic has a big impact on flavor. “Steeping time is very important because that length of time is going to determine the strength of the final cup,” says Dietz. “Anything with the camellia sinensis leaf in it—white, black, green, oolong and pu’er teas—you’ll want to watch the time a little more. Herbals don’t usually over-extract.”


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Mistake #7: Leaving Your Leaves Vulnerable

Making tea

Photo courtesy of Twinings of London

Photo courtesy of Twinings of London

To prevent them from going stale or having diminished flavor, don’t stock loose leaf teas where they’re exposed to air, light, moisture or extreme temperature changes. (So storing your tea right next to the stove or in a clear glass jar is a no-no.) “The best way to store tea is somewhere cool, dry and dark,” says Dietz. “In a cupboard, in a sealed, airtight bag that isn’t transparent is probably ideal.” Another tip, especially if they’re boxed teas: Don’t put them in the same cabinet as your spices to avoid co-mingled flavors.