The Tea Detective
Uncovering and Exploring the Facts About Tea
How to Measure Loose Tea For Brewing
More and more people are switching from tea bags and trying loose-leaf tea for
the first time.  If you are one of them, congratulations, you've taken the leap  
and a whole new world of fresh, healthy, flavorful tea is waiting for you.
But along with using loose tea
likely comes a million questions,
many you probably never even
considered when drinking bagged tea.  One of
the most frequent questions asked by new
loose tea drinkers is about measuring and how
much tea to use to brew a cup or pot of tea.

That's a really good question, because the
amount of tea you use is one of the most
important aspects of
brewing a good tasting
cup of tea.  Unfortunately there is no one
answer, but rather several different
things to consider when brewing loose leaf tea.

Many times the directions say to use one
teaspoon of loose tea for every six ounces of
water.  And this is okay-sometimes. But today
with all the different
types and styles of tea to choose from, there is no one size fits all measure.  

                                               Another thing to consider along with the type, style, and size of
                                               your tea, is the cup size.  The one teaspoon per six ounces of
                                               water, was based on your grandma's dainty china cups.  Today
                                               most of us use mugs or
travel mugs that hold anywhere from
                                               eight to 24 ounces or more.

                                               So you can see where the "1 tsp. per cup" measure flies out the
window, and isn't always relevant.  But there's an easy way to figure out the correct amount of
loose tea no matter the type-style, or size mug you use.

The easiest way to get an accurate measure for how much loose tea to use is by weighing it.  
Get an inexpensive kitchen scale that is calibrated in grams.  For most teas the ideal ratio is 2 to
3 grams of tea for every 6 ounces of water.

So for, say, an 18 ounce travel mug you would use between 6 to 9 grams of loose tea.  The next
question is, how much does 6 to 9 grams of tea equal?  Let's do some comparisons to find out.
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Comparing Volume to Weight
One of the most important things to consider is the volume of tea to weight measurement.  
Simply put - not all teas are the same size and weigh the same amount.

For example, take a standard black tea bag, open it up and measure the amount of tea inside.  
It should be about one teaspoon.  Okay, now weigh it;  it should be about two and a half to
three grams.

Now you need to do the same with your loose tea.  I'll use a white as an example,
Silver
       Needle (Bai Hao Yin Zhen) because it has the largest difference in volume compared with
       the CTC tea bag black tea.

       It takes a volume of about one and a
       half tablespoons (4 1/2 teaspoons) of
       Silver Needle to equal two to three
       grams in weight.  So if you were to use
       the standard measure of one teaspoon
       loose tea per six ounces of water-well,
       it would taste like you
were drinking
       water,
instead of tea.

       So my best advice is to weigh any new
       loose tea you are trying for the first time.  Once
       you are familiar with the leaf and know
       the right volume to use, you can remem-
       ber for the next time and just measure
       out the number of teaspoons or table-
       spoons, depending on the type of leaf.  

       Finally lets look at brewing tea in different sizes of stoneware or travel mugs that many of
       us use today.  You need 2-3 grams of tea for every 6 ounces of water.  So let's use the
       black CTC tea bag tea and the Silver Needle again as our examples.

                                                        If you are using an eight ounce stoneware mug, for exam-
                                                        ple, you would need three and a half to four grams of
CTC
                                                        black tea by weight, or one and a third teaspoon by volume
                                                        For a 12 ounce travel mug you'd need 4 to 6 grams by
                                                        weight, or 2 to 3 teaspoons by volume.

                                                        Since I already know the weight to volume ratio of Silver
                                                        Needle is one and a half tablespoons to 2 to 3 grams, I
                                                        know that for the 8 ounce mug I would need about 2
       tablespoons ( or 6 tsp.)  loose tea by volume, and for the 24 ounce travel mug I'd need
       three tablespoons (or 9 tsp.) of loose tea by volume.

       As always, feel free to experiment with different amounts.  You may like your tea a little
       stronger or less assertive, so you can adjust the amount of loose tea, adding more or
       using less, to taste, until it truly is "your cup of tea."  For more information on measuring,
       yield, and the breakdown of cost per cup, visit our
Measure and Yield page,  Enjoy.
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