How Long to Steep Earl Grey Tea

So, you’ve just unpacked your precious Earl Grey. The mother-in-law arrives in 15 minutes, she absolutely loves the stuff, and you have no idea how to make it.

No? Not even close? Never mind then.

Maybe it’s better if we just answer the question. Let’s start with steeping!

Table of Contents

What Actually is Steeping?

Steeping extracts the compounds from tea, turning the solid tea blend into a hot liquid drink that’s full of flavour.

You can steep anything, from leaves to teabags, or even potatoes!

So, how long does Earl Grey need to steep?

It Kinda Depends

You didn’t think it would be that easy did you?

The length of time required to steep Earl Grey really depends on several factors:

  • Your Taste: A longer steep will result in a more bitter flavour, perfect for hardened tea veterans. But for children or people with more sensitive taste, you should go for a shorter steep.
  • More Caffeine: An extra minute of steeping can increase the caffeine content by 29%! So brew a bit longer for those morning kick-starters.
  • The Type of Tea: While you can easily ruin a green tea, black tea like Earl Grey is more forgiving. Especially the loose-leaf variety.
  • The Water Temperature: If you pour straight from the kettle, the near-boiling water can actually damage certain types of tea. Too cold, and you’ll need to wait hours to get any kind of flavour.
  • The Water Quality: Tap water is high in minerals and can be treated with chlorine. This can add its own flavour to your brew if steeped for too long. Ideally, you should use fresh filtered water.

Anyone Fancy a Cold One?

During summer you may want to consider iced Earl Grey. Steeping at room temperature will result in a less bitter flavour. Plus you’ll benefit from a higher antioxidant level.

But, I hope you’re patient. It’ll take around 10 to 12 hours to effectively cold steep.

So What’s the Answer?

Anywhere between 3 and 5 minutes should be good for a typical Earl Grey brew.

With your water at 195 degrees F (90 C).

As water boils at 212 F / 100 C, you’ll need to let your kettle rest after boiling. According to this nerd, you should wait about 2 minutes to hit that temperature sweet-spot.

But, I suggest you use some trial and error. Make sure you keep all other variables the same of course! So use exactly the same water type and temperature, but only vary the steep time.

You can clock how long you leave your Earl Grey stewing by using a phone timer. And be precise!

Increase each steep by 30 seconds, until you decide on the perfect brew-time for the you-time.

Yeh, not sure about that one.