How Long Do I Steep Green Tea?

Posted: 08/30/2021

How long should green tea steep? It’s a complicated question, one answered by science, history,  and artistic intuition. 

Steeping releases all parts of green tea’s natural flavor—astringent catechins, potent caffeine and tannins, full-bodied amino acids, and all other molecules. The longer you steep, the more flavors released. The key is striking a balance, one that changes with each type of green tea.

From water temperature to tea strands, let’s break down how long to steep green tea.

How Long to Steep Green Tea—General Tips & Tricks

So how long do you steep green tea? The answer is—it depends. 

Green tea has a variety of strands, each with its own optimal steeping time. But overall, there are a few tips for making the perfect mug. For your average cup, start with these guidelines to steep a balanced blend:

  • Measurements – The ratio of tea-to-water completely changes a cup’s taste—the more tea, the stronger your blend. For a six-ounce cup, it’s best to steep two grams (about one teaspoon) of loose tea leaves. If you like a stronger flavor, you can always add more leaves to the same amount of water. 
  • Water Temperature – For most green teas, the best steeping water temperature is  between 158 and 176 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, different strands “bloom” best at different ends of this range. But for any green tea, do not use boiling water (212 degrees Fahrenheit). It overpowers the flavor and reduces health benefits.
  • Time – Usually, green teas steep anywhere from one to four minutes (again, it all depends on the type). Steeping time also changes with taste preference. Don’t be afraid to steep for less time if you prefer a lighter flavor!
  • Color – When steeped, all green teas will take on some color—anything from deep yellow to moss green to light tan. A very pale color usually means you need to steep for longer.

Of course, the best tea is the one that tastes good to you. So don’t be afraid to play around! Steep your leaves longer for a richly flavored tea, or slightly reduce time or water temperature for delicate flavors. 

Loose vs. Bagged Green Tea

How long should green tea steep when loose vs. bagged? The general rule—bagged green tea takes slightly less time to steep. 

Bagged tea contains leaves broken down into smaller pieces, which release flavor molecules faster during steeping. In a low-quality tea bag, this faster release can overproduce bitter-tasting tannins. But for high-quality bagged teas like ours, it just means a shorter steep time—about one to three minutes, instead of two to four.

Caffeine Content

Does green tea have caffeine? It’s true, green tea does contain caffeine. And the longer you steep it, the higher the caffeine content. But the total amount is far less than your average coffee cup.

Among most varieties, green tea contains a low 20-50 milligrams of caffeine. See that amount in comparison to other beverages:

  • Herbal tea – 0 mg
  • Decaf tea – 2 to 15 mg
  • White tea – 8  to 20 mg 
  • Green tea – 24 to 45 mg
  • Oolong tea – 30 to 60 mg
  • Pu’erh tea – 30 to 70 mg
  • Black tea – 60 to 80 mg
  • Black coffee – 90 to 200 mg

To reduce green tea’s caffeine content, you can double-steep your leaves. This means steeping initially for 30 seconds to one minute, discarding the liquid, and then re-steeping the same leaves as desired. But this process will also reduce the flavor— If you prefer a stronger flavor with reduced caffeine, check out our decaf options.

Health Benefits

Is green tea good for you? Optimal steeping not only creates the best flavor—it also boosts the tea’s health benefits. 

When properly steeped, green tea releases more antioxidant-containing catechins, which promote anti–aging, better brain function, and even nicer breath. Over-steeping or using water above 194 degrees Fahrenheit reduces catechin levels—so make sure you set a timer.  

Green Tea—Steeping Since 200 B.C.E. 

Green tea is one of the five “true” teas made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant—the five include oolong tea, black tea, white tea, pu’erh tea, and green tea. Differences in heating and oxidizing the leaves create each type of tea (for example, black tea leaves are oxidized, while green tea leaves are not).  

As a beverage, green tea is infused with centuries of East Asian history and culture, stretching back to 200 B.C.E. Today, most of the world’s green tea is produced in China, with smaller productions in Japan and other countries. 

So how do tea plant leaves turn into a perfectly earthy beverage? Usually, most harvesters and makers follow these steps:

  • Growing – Camellia sinensis plants are grown in two main ways—under the sun or the shade. Shade-grown leaves produce less catechins, creating richer green teas. Sun-grown varieties are usually more astringent and light.
  • Harvesting – Farmers usually harvest tea leaves three times per year—from April to May, June to July, and late July to August. The first harvest is often the highest quality.
  • Heating – To prevent oxidation, harvested green tea leaves are immediately heated in some way from old-fashioned sun drying to modern ovens and steamers. This step highly impacts the tea’s flavor, creating bright, smoky, or vegetal notes.
  • Rolling – Depending on the final product, green tea leaves can be rolled, crumbled, or flattened. This process also increases flavor by releasing the natural juices in the leaves.
  • Drying – Finally, the green tea leaves are further dried to prevent decay, loss of flavor, or any more oxidation.

Every tea maker has their twist on the above—that’s what gives different green teas their special flavor! Once done, the leaves are either packaged as loose tea or broken down for bagging.

Types of Green Tea

While all green tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, over the centuries, tea makers have cultivated distinct strands with particular flavor profiles—and optimal steeping times. Let’s review the most common green teas and their recommended preparation.


Grown under the sun, Japanese sencha leaves are brighter in looks and flavor. For best results, steep our Sencha FL tea in 170-176 degrees Fahrenheit water for no more than two to four minutes. You can mellow the flavor by steeping for one to two minutes in slightly cooler water. 

Flavor profile:

  • Light sweetness
  • Grassy
  • Mellow & balanced
  • Fruity notes 


An ancient Japanese tea, Genmaicha is known for its flavor partner—roasted rice. Most blends are a half-half split of tea leaves and popped brown rice kernels creating a uniquely toasty flavor (like in our Tea of Inquiry). To prepare for drinking, steep genmaicha for two minutes in 175-185 Fahrenheit degree water.  

Flavor profile:

  • Toasty 
  • Caramelly
  • Rich, appealing bitterness
  • Grain-like or earthy


Similar to genmaicha, hojicha is a Japanese green tea with a toasty, rich flavor. However, this tea does not contain rice kernels—the flavor comes from roasting the leaves themself. Hojicha should be steeped in 175 degree Fahrenheit water, usually for about two to four minutes.

Flavor profile:

  • Toasted nuts
  • Light caramel
  • Woody or oaky
  • Subtly robust


Commonly known as Dragon Well tea, Longjing green tea originates from China and has a classic vegetal, nutty green tea taste. Most Longjing teas should be steeped in 165-176 degrees Fahrenheit water for two to four minutes. However, this tea’s balanced profile gives it a greater steeping time-window—trust your taste buds.

Flavor profile:

  • Nutty
  • Vegetal or grassy
  • Finishing sweetness
  • Medium body

Flavored Green Tea

With its nuanced palate, green tea is a perfect flavor partner. The Republic of Tea has special blends like our Honey Ginseng or Blueberry Superfruit green teas, but other popular flavors include: 

  • Jasmine
  • Mint
  • Ginger
  • Lemon or lemongrass
  • Peach

For whole leaves, flavored green teas should be steeped for two to four minutes in water heated between 158 and 176 degrees Fahrenheit. Reduce the time to one to three minutes for bagged tea varieties.


You might’ve tasted matcha in more than a tea cup. This shade-grown green tea has a rich flavor that’s popular for drinking and cooking. Check out our matcha recipes! Unlike most teas, matcha is not technically steeped, but ground into a powder and whisked into hot water (preferably around 175 degrees Fahrenheit) until lightly frothy.

Flavor profile:

  • Full-bodied
  • Vegetal
  • Lightly sweet
  • Smooth & balanced

Steep a Jade-Colored Cup with The Republic of Tea

Every step in tea-making is crucial to building a perfect cup—especially steeping time. But for your favorite green tea, it’s important to make what you like. Use our guide as a starting point, and then experiment on your own!

Of course, the perfect cup of tea also needs quality tea leaves. Browse our incredible selection of quality green teas, from rare Korean Woojean leaves to premium Japanese Matcha.

* The Site cannot and does not contain medical/health advice. The medical/health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind of medical/health advice. Information and statements about the products on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Gunnars, K. 10 Evidence-Based Benefits of Green Tea.

Hajiaghaalipour, F., et al. Temperature and Time of Steeping Affect the Antioxidant Properties of White, Green, and Black Tea Infusions.

Houyuan, L., et al. Earliest tea as evidence for one branch of the Silk Road across the Tibetan Plateau.

Institute of Food Technologists. Steeping temperature and time may affect antioxidants in tea.

Lantano, C., et al. Effects of alternative steeping methods on composition, antioxidant property and colour of green, black and oolong tea infusions.

Michelin Guide. 7 Varieties of Green Tea, Explained.

Mayo Clinic Staff, Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more

Picincu, A. Does Green Tea Lose Antioxidants When Cold?

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