How Much Loose Leaf Tea per Cup
If you’re new to brewing loose leaf tea you may be wondering the same thing I did when I first switched from using only tea bags: how much loose tea do you use per cup?
The tea industry standard for measuring loose leaf tea is about 2-3 grams of tea per 6-8 ounces of water. Ideally it’s best to use a small kitchen scale, but if you only have measuring spoons, the general guideline is to use 1 measuring teaspoon per 6 oz. of water or 1 heaping measuring teaspoon per cup (8 oz.) Keep in mind, there are multiple factors that will impact the amount you actually use. So go ahead and adjust the ratio of loose leaf tea to water according to these variables.
Variables that impact the amount of loose leaf tea to use per 8 oz. of water
- Size of tea leaves and other pieces in blends
- Taste preference (strong or weak)
- Additives like milk or sugar
Size of tea leaves and other pieces in blends
Loose leaf tea comes in all shapes, sizes and grinds. Additionally, many infusions and blends have large pieces of herbs, seeds like cardamum, or even pieces of freeze-dried fruits. Because of this, it’s hard to have a one-size-fits all measurement that you use for every single tea blend you purchase.
Here’s what I do to figure out how much loose leaf tea to use whenever I get a new blend or brand. If the loose leaf tea is pre-packaged like this “Fruit Infusion” I just got from David’s Tea (yum!), I simply use the recommended amount listed on the package. If the tea comes out too strong or too weak, then I know to adjust the amount up or down the next time I make it.
Otherwise, I take out my handy dandy kitchen scale and measure out 2 grams of the loose leaf tea. Next, I take the tea from the scale and put it into a measuring spoon to see how many teaspoons 2 grams of that particular tea is. This is my starting point for how much tea to use per 8oz. of water.
You’ll find that 2 grams of a more finely ground leaf, is more dense and therefore measures out to less teaspoons than one with a bigger leaf. This is why weighing your loose leaf tea on a scale in grams is more accurate than spoons alone. Don’t worry though, there’s no need to pull out your kitchen scale every time you want to brew a cup. I simply follow this process one time for each new blend I buy and save the information.
If you don’t have a scale, pre-packaged loose leaf teas often list a recommended amount of spoonfuls on the bag along with water temperature and steeping time. Usually this information is also available on the tea provider’s website.
If your brewed tea turns out to be too strong or maybe even bitter and you steeped it for just the right amount of minutes, be sure and use less loose leaf tea next time. If your tea came out too weak, perhaps it almost seems watery, and you steeped it long enough, next time be sure and increase the tea to water ratio.
Adding milk and sweetener
One final variable that may impact the amount of loose leaf tea you use is whether you add other ingredients like sweeteners or milk. For example, a London Fog tea latte recipe, starts off with a stronger than normal cup of earl grey tea since so much steamed milk and vanilla syrup are added to it. (Here’s an easy homemade vanilla syrup recipe.) So if you’re steeping earl grey for a latte you’d use more loose leaf tea than if you were were only intending to drink it with a splash of milk.
Loose tea measuring guide
To make an enjoyable cup of tea, it’s ideal to weigh the tea with a scale and measure the water. Here’s a tea measuring guide based on standard recommendations for grams per fluid ounces.
|6 oz. Water||8 oz. Water||12 oz. Water|
|2.25 grams||3 grams||4.5 grams|
|1 teaspoon||1 heaping teaspoon||4.5 teaspoons|
Know how many ounces your tea cup and tea steeper hold
The other day I was in an antique shop and couldn’t help but notice how small and dainty the older tea cups and saucers were compared to some of our modern-day gargantuan mugs. Many of these older cups, like the ones our grandmas used, were a mere 5-6 ounces. Whereas our modern-day mugs, latte cups and travelers range anywhere from 8 oz.up to 24 oz!
The point is, a measured cup equals 8 fluid ounces whereas a drinking cup may hold 16 ounces. So make sure you know how much liquid your drinking cup actually holds so you use enough tea. If you’re not steeping your tea directly in the cup with an infuser, then you’ll want to know how many ounces of water your steeper holds.
To figure this out, fill your cup or steeper with water and then pour that water into a measuring cup (the kind for liquid with all the markings on the side like this one.
Know the size of your spoon you use for measuring tea
Like a “cup” a “spoon” isn’t always a spoon. In your kitchen you mostly likely have spoons that you use for eating and measuring spoons you use for baking. On top of that, your eating utensils may have two sizes of spoons: teaspoons and tablespoons. In my house we usually call the larger one a soup spoon.
However, even though eating utensils are often referred to as teaspoons and tablespoons they may or may not be the same as an actual measured teaspoon or tablespoon (the kind you use for baking).
So when you’re measuring tea, be sure to use actual measuring spoons for accuracy.
On top of it, many tea companies sell their own spoons. For example, I have the aptly named “Perfect Spoon” from David’s Tea that I love (similar to this one from Teavana). It’s rounded like a bowl and holds in all the bits and pieces nicely. But don’t be logical and think it’s an actual teaspoon. In fact, it holds 1.25 teaspoons. David’s Tea has a real nice measuring guide on their blog.
Tea measuring tips that save time
Remember, when figuring out how much loose leaf tea per cup, the general rule of thumb is to use 2-3 grams of tea per 8 oz. of water. If you use a wide variety of teas, here are a few additional tips to help you save time preparing your tea.
- Pre-weigh or pre-measure your tea, putting each pile of loose leaf tea in empty tea bags like these. When you’re ready to brew a cup, you can use each like a tea bag or dump it into an infuser.
- Create a tea notebook which lists your teas by brand/blend and includes the amount of loose leaf tea you prefer per cup. In addition, you can also write down the amount of time you like to steep each one, as well as water temperature.
- For measure-free tea brewing, be sure and to purchase loose tea already measured into pyramid bags or sachets. These leave ample room for the tea to expand and flavors to be extracted.