A hot cup of tea is a delightful way to enjoy the cool autumn weather. While some days are a “stick a tea bag in a cup of microwaved water” kind of day, continue reading to learn some additional small steps you can take to improve your tea-drinking experience.

Cynthia Liu

Whole-Leaf vs The Bag

The quickest way to greatly improve your tea experience is to use whole tea leaves rather than tea bags. Whole-leaf tea leaves allow for more infusion, which provides a fuller-bodied, more complex, and higher-quality flavor. In contrast, tea bags contain ground-down bits of tea that infuse less and produce a lower-quality flavor. From personal experience, switching over to the whole-leaf life is a game-changer in terms of flavor. Additionally, there are health benefits to making the switch to whole leaves: you can receive more of your tea's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties when using whole-leaf tea because whole leaves preserve their benefits while ground-down tea in bags becomes more degraded.

#SpoonTip: Don't ditch your used tea leaves! You can often steep whole leaf teas multiple times in one sitting. Also, spent tea leaves can be fermented and used in salad, such as in this tea leaf salad recipe.

Cynthia Liu


The best cup of tea starts before you boil the water. While tea leaves don’t spoil, their flavors diminish over time. Storing teas properly can help keep them fresh for as long as possible by slowing their degradation. This allows you to have cup after flavorful cup for years! Protect tea leaves from air, light, heat, and moisture. Storing tea in an airtight container that is in a cabinet away from heat and moisture is a great choice to ensure your leaves stay fresh and full-flavored.

Cynthia Liu


Before adding the tea leaves, warm your empty teapot by swirling some of the hot water you’ve brought to a boil. Cold pots can lower the water temperature and hinder the steeping process. Beginning your steeping with a warm teapot helps you start out strong.

Cynthia Liu

There is a time and a place for hot water. While it may be tempting to immediately add water once it’s begun to boil to get that delicious cup as soon as possible, wait a minute (or two) after the water reaches its boiling point before pouring it into your kettle. Adding boiling water may scald the leaves and tarnish your wonderfully steeped creation.

Cynthia Liu

If you are using loose-leaf tea, make sure that you place the right amount of leaves in your strainer. Using too few leaves creates a weak tea while too many leaves can cause the tea to become stronger than intended and wastes your tea stash. A heaping spoonful per cup is often enough to produce a flavorful tea. 

Cynthia Liu

The steep time can make or break your cup. Steeping for too little results in bland tea, while steeping for too long results in bitter tea full of tannins (naturally occurring compounds that are found in many plants and can produce a drying sensation, unpleasant texture, and biting taste if overly consumed) . Steeping the right amount helps reach the depth of the tea's flavor profile, which reveals itself through the intensity and complexity of aroma and flavor. Each tea type has its own steeping time that results in the best flavor for the respective varieties. Some teas, like green tea, are delicate in taste and require less steeping time while black teas need more time to achieve a deeper body of flavor. Below is a list of some of the most common tea types and their steeping times for guidance. If you are looking for a more in-depth guide or don’t see your desired tea type in the list, check out Artful Tea’s complete guide:

Green tea: 1-2 minutes

White tea: 2-3 minutes

Oolong: 2-3 minutes

Black tea: 3-5 minutes

Herbal: 5 minutes

#SpoonTip: Herbal Tea does not have tannins because it is not derived from the tea plant, Camilla Sinensis. While steeping too long can result in poorer flavor, herbal tea is more forgiving if you forget about it longer than the recommended time. 

Cynthia Liu

From storing to preparing to picking out the types of tea, there are many small extra steps you can take to improve your tea experience. Happy steeping!