A Cup Of Tea? A Quick, Convenient And Cool Guide To Brewing Tea

Brewing Tea From Teapot - Sydney Tea

Keep calm with Sydney Tea

In a stressful world, there is no better cure than brewing some absolutely fabulous tea. And since tea is one of the best stress-fighting beverages out there, there's no use stressing about how to brew it, too! It doesn't matter if you are brewing herbal tea, wondering what the perfect green tea water temperature is or just thinking about a good average brew time for tea, Sydney Tea has you covered. Oh, and did we forget to mention that Sydney Tea offers fantastic selections of some of the teas in our article? 

The correct way to brew tea

While this will be an easy guide, we will also let you in on some tips like what happens if you end up brewing tea for too long. Or the best black tea brew time for optimal black tea. Let's take a look at some different (and optimal) ways to brew tea. Oh, and did we mention they are all easy as can be? Sydney Tea wouldn't give you anything less!

Our tea guide

Today we will look at white, green, oolong, black and herbal teas or tisanes as they are also known (if you're fancy!). The enjoyment of tea from the camellia Sinensis plant for medicinal, spiritual and then eventually recreational fulfillment started about 3-5000 years ago in China. There is lots of mystery and mythology surrounding the discovery of tea that we will explore in another article (spoiler alert: it's all fascinating and cool!). 

But for now, we will take a look at the differences between the above types of tea. White, green, oolong and black tea all come from the same plant. The Camellia Sinensis plant! They all contain caffeine, antioxidants, theanine (the amino acid that calms you down) and other health-promoting and disease-halting benefits and effects. 

The major difference between each of these types of tea has to do with how long the leaves are allowed to oxidize after they are harvested. This means how long the leaves are allowed to sit and soak up oxygen similar in some ways to fermentation. The length or even lack of oxidization results in differences in leaf and liquor colour, aroma, taste, hints, and notes.  

Sometimes the caffeine content is slightly affected and sometimes the level of tannins and other beneficial amino acids are amplified too. But generally speaking, you are in safe hands with any of these camellia Sinensis leaf teas! Herbal teas and tisanes, unless they have been blended with Camellia Sinensis leaves, do not come from the same family and are sometimes even not considered tea at all! But rest assured, here at Sydney Tea, we like to be all-inclusive, but we may differentiate for technical purposes between Camellia sinensis or "true tea" and the herbal crew.  

The scale from lowest to the highest level of oxidation for Camellia Sinensis tea leaves is as follows;

  • White tea
  • Green Tea
  • Yellow Tea
  • Oolong Tea
  • Black Tea
  • Pu'erh, dark and fermented teas

Now on to herbal teas and tisanes! Herbal teas are generally any tea made from non-Camellia Sinensis leaves. This includes caffeine-free tea like chamomile or lemon tea. Blends, on the other hand, are herbal ingredients mixed in with Camellia Sinensis leaves. Various floral teas especially varieties from Fujian province in China include this last category!

White tea

White tea is the least oxidized of all the Camellia Sinensis teas. Picked from the softest, lightest and in some cases, down-covered tea leaves and buds. White tea is a delicate but delectable tea to enjoy. Lower temperatures and high amounts of leaves lead to a perfect brewing of white tea leaves!

  • Use water between 76-85 degrees Celsius
  • Lots of leaves!
  • Steeping time can vary with some varieties of white requiring 5-8 minutes. The legendary Silver Needles white tea variety may need up to 15 minutes to fully unveil its exquisite aroma and flavours!
  • Sydney Tea's Organic White Peony Tea and Silver Needle are both incredible white teas to try out!

Green tea

Green tea is a versatile and agile tea. Found in many different styles, types, and blends. Green tea is one of the oldest Camellia Sinensis tea types out there and also one of the most popular in close competition with black tea. 

The methods used to cease green tea's oxidization process include the pan-fried and steamed styles. The steamed method was used in China until around the Yuan and Ming dynasty periods when the pan-firing of tea leaves became the chosen method. 

The steaming of tea leaves still lives on in Japan, however. Today, most Chinese tea is pan-fried, leaving the indelible flavour and aroma of the firing method. Smoky, a bit nuttier and toastier than other teas. The liquor can also be a bit darker but this depends on a few other factors like terroir. 

Loose Leaf Green Tea - Sydney Tea

Meanwhile, most Japanese tea is steamed. Japanese green tea leaves can be slick and smooth as if they had been washed recently. Their colour is a bright, vibrant green. The flavour is more vegetal and can be bitter. In Japan, sweeter green teas fetch a high price due to the difficulty of cultivating the ideal plants for a sweet aroma and flavour. 

Elsewhere in Japan, one can find green tea mixed with brown rice puffs like Sydney Tea's Organic Genmaicha. And in Okinawa, in particular, one can find the splendid jasmine tea the island region is famed for. Introduced to Okinawa from Fujian in China, Okinawa's jasmine tea is on another level. It has a floral and sublime flavour and aroma. If you find yourself in Okinawa, a kind shop keeper may offer you a small cup of iced jasmine. Do not refuse them. You will never forgive yourself if you don't try the incredible and heavenly experience of Okinawan iced jasmine tea. You can brew some yourself with Sydney Tea's Organic Jasmine.

Japan also preserved the art of powdered tea, a technique developed in the Song dynasty. Today we call this type of green tea matcha. Matcha is prepared following special methods like shading the plants and the leaves for specific periods. Matcha leaves are then subjected to the painstaking process of having every last one of their leaves, stems, and veins removed which results in a fine powdered green tea. Matcha is highly versatile as a tea powder. It can be used for other culinary uses like whipping up some tasty baked goods. It can also be applied topically to the skin to form a cleansing skin mask. 

Matcha has the snag of requiring a special bamboo tea whisk to prepare it properly. But this actually adds to the charm and mystique that matcha possesses. To really enjoy matcha, it is important to brew up a strong, thick bowl, and then down it all in one or two sips. If you have the honour of enjoying a Japanese tea ceremony first hand, matcha is the tea you will enjoy.

There is the correct way to make tea, and there isn’t. Many Japanese tea varieties require a special amount of care and finesse. With our guide we will show you the correct way to make tea. Have no fear of brewing tea for too long. Especially not the subtle and delicate leaves Sydney Tea has featured!

Whole leaf


  • Apply a little bit of water with your powder to make a bit of a light paste first.
  • Add just a bit more water, matcha is meant to be thick and downed in a gulp or two.
  • Use water a little bit under 80-degrees Celsius. For matcha, cooler is better.
  • Whisk and whip your powder and hot water until the top is covered in a layer of frothy bubbles

Oolong tea

Oolong is the next most oxidized of the teas on our list. Oolong tea is complex and can have a wide range of flavours. Oolong produced in Taiwan's highlands is often of very high quality with some varieties even called the "champagne of teas". Flavours, hints, and notes can range from nutty and toasty to more bitter and even savoury.

How to brew it

  • Most oolong will need to be steeped for 1-3 minutes depending on the variety you have chosen. 
  • This will also depend on your oolong variety of choice with a range of 80-95 degrees Celsius.
  • Does Sydney Tea have some oolong tea? Yes! The exquisite Organic Iron Goddess and Dong Ding that are second to none.

Black Tea

One of the most popular beverages in the world, black tea is one of the most oxidized of Camellia Sinensis leaves, too. Black tea's flavour is known to be robust and vivacious. From smoky and deep to vegetal and bitter, black tea can be enjoyed more readily with milk or other accoutrements due to its sometimes overpowering flavour palette. 

Loose Leaf Black Tea - Sydney Tea

The origins of black tea are said to have been sort of an accident. With various stories of invading armies burning pine tea leaf sheds and hampering the quick processing of tea leading to longer oxidization than normal. Whatever the truth of black tea may be, it can be certain that it is a popular breakfast beverage due to its strong flavour and slightly higher caffeine content on average.

Lovers of Earl Grey, though, already are enjoying black tea prepared with bergamot oil from the bergamot citrus fruit. Sydney Tea's Parisian take on Earl Grey, the Organic French Earl Grey along with the original Organic Earl Grey are great examples of black tea. And for those seeking a vibrant, vivacious and certainly spicy example of black tea, check out Sydney Tea’s Organic Caramel Masala Chai and Organic Spicy Masala Chai.

How to brew it

  • Use a generous 100 degrees Celsius water, black tea is hardy and can handle hotter temperatures.
  • Brew black tea for 2-5 minutes, feel free to let it steep all day and make sure you are using a teapot that can retain high temperatures. Glass teapots are ideal for white and floral tea but not black tea which needs the extra heat to brew.
  • Sydney Tea's Black Assam, Australian Breakfast, and, Black Ceylon are all amazing black teas to try.
  • The perfect chai tea brewing temperature is 90-100 Celsius. Because chai is black tea you can steep it a bit longer, for 2 to 5 minutes. Sydney Tea’s Organic Spicy Masala Chai is delectable anytime of day!

Herbal teas and tisanes

This category includes teas blended with Camellia Sinensis teas along with teas made completely independent of Camellia Sinensis leaves. Herbal teas can be found all over the world and the art of brewing various leaves, fruits, and other ingredients together for a medicinal or recreational drink goes back thousands of years. Herbal teas and blends can also put on quite the show if allowed to brew in heat-resistant glass teapots. Some popular types of herbal teas include mint tea, lemon tea, ginger and lemongrass tea, hibiscus tea, chamomile, rooibos, ginseng and eucalyptus among other great teas out there.

How to brew herbal teas

Some takeaways and rules of thumb

Both brewing and enjoying tea are ways to beat stress. Here at Sydney Tea, we supply only the best tea leaves for your brewing pleasure! Remember, when it comes to determining how much tea to use, a good rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon to 200 or so mL of water. Also, remember that longer steeping times lead to stronger and more potent flavours. If you prefer a light flavour to your tea, opt for the shorter time brackets. Covering your tea also helps your leaves infuse in the hot water. 

And also make sure to check out Sydney Tea's incredible catalogue of teas! There is a perfect and spot-on example for every category on this list. And you just may find some other keen and cool items, too! Sydney Tea also offers great tea items and accessories.

One final piece of advice! Keep checking back on our website to see all new and exciting items in our tea and teaware categories.