Teabags have changed the way we make and consume tea. Just add one bag to hot water and you will have a hot cup within minutes!
But when you get into the nitty-gritty of the process one thing that may confuse many people is the quantity of water per teabag.
How much water per tea bag should you use? Teabags are meant to be used in 150-200ml (5 – 6.7 oz) of water. This range varies from the type of tea to how strong you want it to taste. For most people, 200ml (6.7 oz) is more than enough but for the enthusiasts, some adjustment may be necessary.
Read below to learn more about how much water to add for various types of tea and a fool-proof and generalized way to make the perfect cup!
How Tea Bags Work
Teabags aren’t just small paper bags filled with tea leaves – they are much cooler than that! To explain how to make the perfect cup of tea and how much water to use for each type of tea we must first begin at the beginning.
When you put a tea bag in hot water, 3 main processes immediately begin:
Teabags are made with a special type of paper. This paper is typically made from plant fiber or abaca.
Abaca is a natural leaf fiber that comes from a close cousin of the banana tree family. This plant-fiber tea bag is crucial in the process of making instant tea.
When exposed to hot water the teabag quickly hydrates and sinks below the cup. Inside the tea bag, the hot water and tea leaves create a pocket that slowly heats and expands the tea leaves and releases their flavor.
This step has more to do with temperature than the quantity of water but you should still be mindful of the size of the teabag.
Some brands like Lipton will sell cup-sized and family-sized tea bags that may require different volumes of water. Family-sized teabags can be equal to three single-serving teabags!
Typical tea bags may either require boiling water (212°F) or hot water (140-180°F). Generally, the saturation and extraction process begins at around 140°F.
If you add a teabag to a cooler liquid then it won’t properly hydrate and expand the tea leaves whereas if you add very hot water, it may damage the tea bag and destroy the flavor of the tea leaves in the process.
This step begins when the bag becomes fully hydrated. The pocket of water inside the tea bag saturates the leaves which releases their flavor and compounds.
When the inside of the bag is fully saturated, it will start to leak out the extracted contents into the cup. The saturation process continues until the water has cooled down.
In this final stage, the tea bag will slowly infuse the contents of the bag with the rest of the water in the cup. This stage is where the amount of water matters the most!
If there is too much water then the mixture will be considered “weak” and you won’t be able to get the right flavor from the tea.
On the other hand, if the volume of water is less, then you would have a very strong tea that might work for some but will be off-putting for others.
As stated, the right amount of water for most tea bags ranges from 5.5 to 6.7 oz. For example, if you are making green tea then you should go with 6 oz of water heated to about 180°F to get the most out of the teabag.
Whereas if you want to make a typical cup of black tea then a cup of 6.7 oz of water at 200°F should be enough for most people.
The amount of water varies from person to person rather than from cup to cup. Generally speaking, most people aren’t bothered when it comes to using exact quantities of water.
For example, you can also use 6.7 oz for black tea but leave the bag in for longer to get more flavor.
Typically, 3-5 minutes is enough for the infusion stage but you can adjust the taste of the tea by either taking out the tea bag sooner or later than 5 minutes.
A Guide For Making Different Types Of Tea
While each type of teabag is slightly different, you can use a generalized formula to make the perfect cup every time. Here are some common types of tea and their requirements!
A typical cup of black tea can be made in 6.7 oz of water. This amount is enough to fully saturate and extract the flavor from one teabag. Usually, manufacturers will also label the instructions on how to use their teabags.
Every manufacturer has different ways of packaging the tea bags, some use different blends, some use a different type of paper and some can even use varying quantities of leaves.
If you are truly after the right flavor and strength then we recommend following the instructions at the back of the tea bag pack.
But if you want a more customized experience then you can steep a tea bag in 6.7 oz of water at 200°F for 3 minutes if you want a medium-strength tea or for 5+ minutes for a stronger kick.
Green tea usually requires a different treatment as it includes aromatics and flavors. Many manufacturers will add scents and other ingredients to slightly alter the aroma and taste of green tea.
Flavored green tea is a staple around the world and tastes awesome too! But when it comes to extracting flavors and flavonoids in the tea, you will need to be a bit more mindful.
Green tea usually requires more water than black tea but you can play around with the measurements to get the most out of your cup. For example, you can try going with 8.5 oz of water, heated at 180°F.
Start with steeping one tea bag for 5 minutes to get the right flavor from the bag and adjust accordingly.
Want a stronger cup? Then try steeping a bag in 5.5 oz of water for 5+ minutes. We wouldn’t recommend going below 5.5 oz because it will overly saturate the water and may make it taste a bit bitter.
Signature Blends/Specialty Teas
As awesome as teabags are tea connoisseurs dislike the fact that they restrict the flavor and potential of the tea leaves.
The reason for this is that to fit the leaves in the bags manufacturers will chop up the leaves into smaller pieces so that they can hydrate, expand and infuse within a small-sized bag.
Teabags inherently limit the space available for the leaves to expand. In most cases, they expand just enough to adequately add flavor. However, the full range of flavors are thought to get lost in the process.
Cutting the leaves also happens to degrade the flavor and quality of the tea. The difference may seem small but it’s enough for enthusiasts to notice!
To address this issue, manufacturers sell specialty teas that may use different shaped tea bags made using high-quality materials like cotton or high-grade filter paper, or plant fibers.
The leaves inside these bags may also be larger which leads to a better-tasting cup.
The best way to make specialty tea would be to steep the bags in 6.7 oz of water heated to 180°F for 4-5 minutes.
Of course, since this is a one-size-fits-all approach, you should always first check the instructions and make tea according to the product specifications for the best experience.
Now that you know the right quantity of water to use for different types of tea bags, here are a few related questions that you may have regarding the matter.
Can you use a torn tea bag?
No. Teabags contain finely chopped pieces of tea leaves that hydrate and expand in a confined space.
If you use a torn tea bag then you might have to filter the tea using a high-filtration fine-mesh filter just to get the stray pieces out.
It would defeat the purpose of having a convenient cup of tea since you might end up doing more work.
Can you use 2-3 tea bags in 6.7 oz of water?
Yes. You can use up to 2 tea bags in a cup filled with 6.7oz of water for a stronger flavored tea. You can also increase the amount of water up to 12 oz (350 ml) if you want a larger cup but with a milder flavor.
We wouldn’t recommend going with 3 tea bags in less than 12-15 oz of water.
Can you boil tea bags?
This method may not be suitable for tea bags because you might just end up destroying the delicate flavor of the tea leaves.
Since the leaves are finely cut, boiling might “burn off” their flavor and aroma when exposed to such high temperatures for longer than 3-5 minutes.
The best way to enjoy teabags is to use water that has been boiled but allowed to cool down in a cup to around 140-200°F before adding the bags.