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How to Brew a Great Cup of Tea Using a Tea Bag

Updated on January 31, 2015

Do You Use tea bags? You can still make great tasting tea!

If you are a regular tea drinker, you probably have your own favorite teas and your own preferred way of making tea. In my kitchen, I have tins of loose leaf tea. I also have tins and packs of tea bags. I know that some purists prefer loose leaf teas. Other people prefer the convenience of teabags. Some people even make their own tea bags, so they can mix their own blends and carry them conveniently.

You might be happy to make your tea with water from the kitchen tap, but others will only use filtered or bottled water. You might be an indoor tea-maker, or perhaps a bit more adventurous - see below for making tea on the beach!

The photos on this page are my own, and are copyright. Please do not use them without my written permission. Thanks!

Tea bag history

The earliest patents for tea bags date from around 1903. Mr Thomas Sullivan, a tea merchant from New York, is often credited with creating the first commercial tea bags in 1908. Instead of using tin canisters, which were expensive, Thomas Sullivan created the cheaper pouches to send samples of tea to commercial customers. They proved popular, with recipients demanding tea in bags. The original tea bags were handmade silk bags, then hand stitched muslin, and now usually paper.

The secret of making good tea is patience!

A team of scientists at the University of Northumbria's School of Life Sciences have discovered that the secret of brewing tea is patience!

After 180 hours of testing a panel of volunteers, they concluded that the best method was to add 200ml of boiling water to a tea bag in a mug. After two minutes, remove the bag and add 10ml of milk.

Now, leave the tea for six minutes until it cools to 60C, as this is the optimal temperature to let the flavours flood out and to avoid scolding. But don't let it cool too much, below 45C and the tea will be past its best.

Gourmet Tea Bags

Tea is becoming so popular now that even gourmet teas are available in convenient tea bags. Allow the water to drop off the boil before adding to the cup or pot, and follow the instructions on the packet carefully to avoid "over steeping". Leaving the teabags in too long can release bitter tannins which will ruin the delicate taste.

Twinings of London Classics Earl Grey Tea, 20 Count (Pack of 6), 1.41 oz (packaging may vary)
Twinings of London Classics Earl Grey Tea, 20 Count (Pack of 6), 1.41 oz (packaging may vary)

Earl Grey Tea is a classic, uplifting tea with a floral aroma and lovely refreshing taste. It is a fine black tea that has been expertly blended with theflavor of bergamot.

Taylors of Harrogate Lapsang Souchong, 50 Teabags (Pack of 6)
Taylors of Harrogate Lapsang Souchong, 50 Teabags (Pack of 6)

Lapsang souchong is a dark, smoked chinese tea, high in antioxidants. Lapsang can be served with or without milk. A word to the wise: milk adds a slightly malty tone. If you like to buy in bulk, this is a six pack, with 50 teabags per pack, giving 300 in total.


If you would like a change

I usually drink black teas, like Earl Grey. But, if you'd like a change, especially if you take your tea without milk, you could try green tea or oolong tea.

Numi Organic Tea Jasmine Green, (Pack of 3 Boxes) 18 Bags Per Box, Classic Green Tea Scented with Real Organic Jasmine Blossoms in Non-GMO Biodegradable Tea Bags
Numi Organic Tea Jasmine Green, (Pack of 3 Boxes) 18 Bags Per Box, Classic Green Tea Scented with Real Organic Jasmine Blossoms in Non-GMO Biodegradable Tea Bags

Light green tea with fragrant jasmine flowers. Three pack, with 18 tea bags per pack. Jasmine flowers contain essential oils that are used in aromatherapy.

Twinings of London 100% Pure Oolong Tea, 20 Count (Pack of 6)
Twinings of London 100% Pure Oolong Tea, 20 Count (Pack of 6)

The processing of oolong tea is between that of green and black teas. The tea leaves are only partially oxidized, so tea is reddish, and the taste is delicate and slightly sweet. Oolong has a lower caffeine content than black tea. Six pack, 20 individually wrapped tea bags per pack.


White tea

If you are looking for something special, you might enjoy white tea. It is made from spring leaf buds, picked before they open.

Numi Organic Tea White Rose, Full Leaf White Tea, 16-Count non-GMO Tea Bags (Pack of 3)
Numi Organic Tea White Rose, Full Leaf White Tea, 16-Count non-GMO Tea Bags (Pack of 3)

White tea, with rosebuds, has a smooth uplifting rosy taste. It is high in antioxidants and vitamin C. Three pack, 16 tea bags per pack

Triple Leaf Tea, White Peony, 20 Tea Bags (Pack of 6)
Triple Leaf Tea, White Peony, 20 Tea Bags (Pack of 6)

This delicious tea (Bai Mu Dan) is from the Fujian province. It is a delicate and fragrant, with a golden color.

White tea is also high in antioxidants. Triple Leaf's White Peony can be drunk hot or iced.

Six pack, 20 teabags per pack


How to make a great cuppa using tea bags

Everyday Tea Bags

Of course, even for everyday tea, it helps to start with a good quality tea bag. There are many great brands available, including Twinnings, Taylors of Harrogate, PG and more. Try different teas when you visit friends, or dine out, until you find the one you like best.

Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold, 160 Teabags
Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold, 160 Teabags

Taylors Yorkshire Gold is a premium English tea, from Harrogate. Yorkshire Gold, the original Yorkshire Tea has a distinctive full-bodied and malty flavor.


Making tea on the beach

Our favourite beach is a little bit remote. No cafes or restaurants anywhere nearby. But, just because you are at the beach, it doesn't mean you have to miss out on your tea. Here's what you need:

Kelly kettle

Twigs, dry grass

Matches or lighter

Bottled water

Tea bags


Milk & sugar to taste

Place some kindling in the chimney of the Kelly kettle.

Add water to the kettle.

Light the kindling, and feed more twigs until water boils.

Place tea bags in cups (make sure they won't tip when you add the water), then add water.

Allow the tea bags to steep, as required, then add milk and/or sugar to taste.

Tea preferences

How do you like your tea?

See results

Can you share a tip for making a great cup of tea?

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    • savateuse profile image

      savateuse 3 years ago

      Making your own tea bags is very cool!

    • Diane Cass profile image

      Diane Cass 3 years ago from New York

      My son is a barrista for Teavana. He comes home with so many tasty flavors of tea. I've become very fond of their loose leaf varieties. We have tea bag "blanks" that we can fill with the loose leaf to make tea.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      I just started drinking tea at age 65. At this point, I add honey and lots of milk.

    • sierradawn lm profile image

      sierradawn lm 4 years ago

      During the summer, ice tea is consumed by the gallons in my household. I make sun tea in gallon glass containers. 10 teabags to a gallon of water. Set in the sun. At the end of the day stick it in the fridge.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      I usually just use herbal tea with nothing in it and use a tea bag. But I also enjoy it with milk in it.

    • profile image

      ChocolateLily 4 years ago

      I recommend not leaving the tea bag in the water too long as the tea starts to take on the flavor of the bag. Otherwise, I've found that Rooibos/red tea is really tas-tea! Nice lens!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      Black tea used to be my standard, then orange spice loose tea, and now decaf green tea.

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 4 years ago from London

      Tea has always made my heart race and left me feeling nauseous, but recently I discovered Darjeeling tea which is mild and causes none of these bad effects. I still only steep the bag for less than a minute though, so my tea is a bit like tinted water with a dash of milk.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I am a coffee drinker and only drink iced tea but still enjoyed my visit here.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 4 years ago from Alabama USA

      I like a tall glass of ice tea. Thanks for the tea making tips.


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