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Four Ways To Brew Loose Tea

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I’ve got a nice relationship going on with More Than Alive. They send me some of their products to try for free in return for a review…but I’m not very fond of posts where I just say “Hey guys, I tried this and it was nice.” I’d rather give you a little meat to go with that review. This month, More Than Alive sent me two types of loose tea: Coolmint and Sweet Sleep, along with a ½ pound of their Cane Creek coffee to try. So, I thought it would be fun to do a little post and let you know there are various options for brewing loose tea.

Most people don’t bother buying lose tea – they just buy tea bags that are already filled…I know I do. But the truth is, loose tea is usually fresher and of better quality. I could immediately tell that the tea from More Than Alive  was HIGH-class stuff and very fresh…I almost felt too “country” to brew it. 😉 But the truth is, country people love tea….just put some sugar in there. Ha!

Disclaimer: I don’t like tea. I’ve never liked tea. I have to force myself to drink it. So, Barry did the taste testing for this particular review and he really enjoyed the tea. He said he could tell it was good quality and it was a lot better than the bags I buy.

The first way you can brew loose tea is by using your coffee maker. My mom told me this one and I felt like smacking my forehead. Well duh. To brew, simply but a coffee filter in the brew basket and add your tea. Since the tea won’t sit in the water like in other brewing options, you’ll need to add more leaves – about 1 tablespoon per cup of water. Turn on your coffee pot and VOILA! Genius I tell ya, genius.

NOTE: You should store loose tea in a cool, dry place. Make sure you use an airtight container. Do not refrigerate.

If you simply must have your tea in a bag, you can make your own tea bag! Cut a square of cheesecloth and put your loose tea inside. Tie up the bag, add it to a cup with your hot water and let it brew for several minutes. Make sure to reuse your cheesecloth!

Conventional wisdom says you’ll need 1 teaspoon of loose tea per 8 ounces of water.

If you don’t feel like making your own tea bag, you can actually buy empty tea bags off Amazon. Isn’t that just genius?

This is my favorite way to brew hot tea…in a tea ball. This one is from Ingles and it set me back less than $5. I love it. It makes things SO much easier. You just add your tea in there, put the lid on, add the water and tea ball to the cup and VOILA! It’s a miracle. A tea ball miracle.

How long should you brew? If you brew less than 3 minutes, you’ll get a very light tasting tea. For regular strength you need about 5 minutes of brewing time and if you want it STRONG then you need to brew for about 8 minutes.

Last but easiest of all, you can just put your tea leaves down in your cup. Add one teaspoon of leaves per cup of water and let it steep. When you’re satisfied with the strength, just strain out the leaves using a small strainer. You  might not want to forget that step, or you’ll feel like you’re eating grass. *Cough*

If you prefer cold tea, you can use these same processes and just chill the mixture or add ice. Barry loves hot tea in the winter and cold tea in the summer. I love ice cream – I just wanted to throw that out there. Most people use ½ cup to 1 cup of sweetener per gallon of tea…1 cup+ if you live south of the Mason Dixon line. 😉

I was also sent an AMAZING ½ pound of fresh coffee (Cane Creek Café Sans Caffeine) to try. Ohhhhh baby! I could tell immediately it was high quality coffee and had only recently been ground – a true treat! (I need to get a coffee grinder.) Barry enjoyed this immensely because I have recently been fixing him instant coffee in order to get it out of the pantry. Sorry honey! I just wanted to keep my head stuck in the bag all day so I could make sure to savor the awesome coffee smell.

I made sure to clean my coffee pot before and after brewing the fresh tea…no one likes tea coffee. I mean, BARRY doesn’t like tea coffee. *Cough*

*This post is linked at Fat Tuesday on Real Food Forager, at Works For Me Wednesday on We Are That Family, at Healthy 2Day Wednesday on Day2Day Joys, at Frugal Days Sustainable Ways on Frugally Sustainable, at Simple Lives Thursday on GNOWFGLINS, Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead, at Cooking Thursday on Diary of a Stay At Home Mom, and at Hearth and Soul Blog Hop on Penniless Parenting.

Comment Policy: I love hearing your thoughts and input on what I write. Since I write about what works at my house, what pleases my handsome hubby and darling children; I'm sure we'll disagree sometimes. In those cases, do what's right for you and yours. As with any form of communication, please only post comments that move the discussion in a positive direction.

About Stacy

Stacy is the author of Crock On: A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook and Keep Crockin': A Poorganic Slow Cooker Cookbook, and a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom to her three children, Annie (June 2009), Andy (August 2012) and Eli (September 2014). After an “awakening” in March 2011, her family switched to a more natural, whole foods diet. She likes to blog about how to live on less than you make and how to eat good food while doing it. Her passion is teaching others how to save money and she tag teams with her husband in this endeavor. At Stacy Makes Cents you’ll find information on how to save money in the kitchen, how to have fun with your kids, and how to be thrifty in all areas of life. Her passion is teaching others how to live debt free. Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and more to keep up with her daily antics.


  1. Love your blog & the ideas you post! Cannot remember how I found you (Pinterest, I think) but am glad I did.

  2. I use a tea ball. Works great. Sometimes I boil then strain.

  3. To brew loose tea, I prefer to steep it in a pot and then use a cute little strainer to pour the water through as it goes into the cup. But, I hafta say, I’m a coffee girl at heart. :)

    • That’s pretty similar to the last method I posted….but I try not to put anything but water in my tea pot…because I use it for coffee. LOL Great tip!!

    • Veronica says:

      That’s the “right” way, in my opinion! My mom is from England & that’s how she brews her tea every morning :) And that’s how my family does it whenever they visit from England (or whenever we go over there!) :)
      Of course, being born in America I use good ol’ tea bags!

  4. Becca C says:

    I usually brew in my measuring cup, then strain it through a tiny tea mesh strainer. However, for his birthday, Jerm got these 2 big glass mugs that have strainers and lids to fit to use for tea brewing. Those are fun, too!

  5. I LOVE drinking hot tea in the winter. And since I live in Northeast PA (NEPA), that is a long time. I use my Sunbeam Tea Drop tea maker.

  6. We have a teapot that has a mesh basket in it with a plunger, something like a French press. It does a pretty good job.

  7. I love tea! I brew me a cup almost every afternoon.

  8. Jan Scott says:

    I love my coffee,first thing in the morning and it’s either tea hot or iced or water the rest of the day…..I brew gallons of ice tea using the coffee maker and cups with the tea kettle, I use both the Tea Ball and the tea bads depending on the tea. I found really inexpensive all stainless tea balls in varying sizes at my local Oriental Market and the prices were excellent!

    • You know…I find that oriental markets are great places to find little things like that – for super cheap! :-)

  9. By the cup. I have a fancy dancy cup that has a tea strainer that is made just for brewing loose leaf tea.
    Prior to having the cup I put loose tea into the bottom of my tea pot and poured boiling water over the leaves,

  10. Unfortunately I am not a tea drinker but do enjoy coffee. It has been so long since I bought fresh coffee beans to grind. They are expensive! They do make a much better, fresher cup of coffee. Not exactly top on my list of items I can budget for at the moment.

    • I am on the hunt for the best deal on green coffee beans so I can roast my own and then grind them….that’s my next venture. :-)

  11. A tea ball is definatly the nicest way to prepare loose tea!

  12. I love coffee and tea! We are all tea drinkers and my sons and I try to have a teatime every afternoon. When we do use loose tea we use either a tea ball or a French coffee press. Sometimes we just put some in a cup and then strain it out.

  13. Breezie says:

    We usually brew tea in a pot and then strain. We are trying to make tea a part of everyday life here! Thanks for the giveaway!

  14. Chantelle says:

    When I actually get time to enjoy my tea, I brew it using a tea ball or this handy dandy little mesh strainer/tea ball thing that looks like a venus fly trap.

  15. YUM! Tea and Coffee are my vices…and since I love them so much, this would be great!!!

  16. Sara Jane says:

    I didn’t like tea until recently. The only time I ever brewed loose tes was for clients at the Aveda salon where I worked. We used a tea ball.

  17. Stephanie says:

    I love hot tea and my preference its with the tea ball.
    For coffee, my husband had bought me a bullet blender for xmas. I found out it grinds coffee beans. I will never go back to buying ground coffee again. I personally grind it fresh every morning b/c it isn’t much trouble and the freshness and smell put me in a happy place. The coffee is just so much better. Also, my gma taught me if it is a little bitter, put a pinch of salt in it. Viola. Delicious.

  18. I use a tea ball! Great way to brew. :)

  19. I prefer using the strainer inside my cup. It makes it really easy, keeps me from getting a piece of tea in my mouth (I’m a texture person and it would freak me out) and I can adjust the amount/strength of the tea really easily. Besides, have you ever tried shoving tea into a ball? Maybe I’m doing it wrong but little pieces get out and it never seems to close right.

    • Mine closes really tight…and when I tried all the methods, the tea ball made the least mess. Of course, I’m just a messy person in general. :-)

  20. Allyson Hunter says:

    Definitely use the tea ball! Fresh tea leaves make the best tasting tea.

  21. I did use a tea ball until recentely. I purchased a tea brewer pot from Teavana with a Christmas gift card. It is a little plastic picher that holds 12 oz of water. You put your tea leaves in then add the water. When it has steeped to the way you like it you set the brewer over your cup/mug and it pours into you cup/mug.

  22. I really like the idea of using a coffee pot to brew the tea. I have one of the coffee pots that there is a reusable (washable) filter so getting the tea flavor out wouldn’t be a problem since I’m used to just popping it in the dishwasher at night anyway. Plus its great because I don’t have to purchase filters. I’m not a tea fan either but I’m trying to force myself to aquire a taste because some tea is so good for you. I’m also trying to offer it to my kids (caffeine free of course! ;D) because its better than other water-alternatives!

  23. I just got one of those mesh ball thingies and have been wondering what to do with it! I usually brew my tea by heating water in the kettle and pour it over the bag in my mug, and let it sit for 3-4 min. before I drink it.

  24. Katjo Daniels says:

    I love tea and coffee! I really like herbal tisanes that have medicinal /health benefits. Sometimes, knowing that it is very beneficial can help you get past the different taste. I use both bags and tea balls.
    For coffee beans, I have used my blender to gring small amounts (in a canning jar screwed to my blender blade base) like a Bullet. Works for me!!

  25. I only drink tea now as coffee makes me jittery and irritable. I have a tea (coffee) press that my daughter bought for me for my birthday. I still use my coffee pot to make the water hot just because it’s faster than using a tea kettle on the stove.

  26. I use a tea ball at home. My MOPS group has an annual tea, and this year we are using Tuffy Tea Steepers from The Tea Spot. The are really cool and come in different colors. Perfect for brewing pots of tea and individual cups.

  27. Have you tried adding skim milk and/or honey to your tea? Growing up we would have tea parties with my Grandmother with her real china tea cups. She always put a couple sugar cubes and a small splash of milk in our tea. I still love it that way, but try to use honey now.

    • I tried adding milk and stevia…and it’s likely just because I was sick that day, but it wasn’t my fave. :-) I’ll try again!

  28. Marcella F says:

    I’ve never tried to brew loose tea because I never knew how to do it…until I read your post. I think the best option for me is using a tea ball.

  29. The best way to brew tea, in my opinion, is in a pretty teapot, with two eager little girls with pretty cups sitting beside you. :)

  30. It’s been a long time since I’ve had loose tea, but when I had it, I used a tea ball. I LOVE the cheesecloth idea, though!

  31. Breezie says:

    We also really love the tea mug strainer. It gets every little bit of loose leaf out of the tea. And we have a glass tea pot with a basket strainer for those teas that just require steeping. :)

  32. I would never have thought about using the coffee maker to brew loose tea – how beautifully simple! Of course I’m most enamored of the tea-ball method – much more Downton Abbey 😉

  33. Rebekah says:

    Honestly, I’ve never brewed tea leaves before! I’ve seen the tea balls before. Using coffee filters is a great idea!

  34. Thanks for a give away!

  35. I have a tea ball but always forget to buy loose tea. I entered the giveaway but already sign up for your emails.

  36. Courtney says:

    I like tea anyway that someone else brews it for me 😀

  37. I normally use a tea ball, or a little muslin bag that I got at the health food store (same concept, just not as easy to clean). When I am feeling lazy I might put the leaves in a strainer, sit that on the top of my cup, pour in the hot water, let it steep, then remove the strainer. If I am really lazy I just put the tea leaves in the bottom of the cup, let it steep, then drink, being careful not to disturb the leaves when I get near the bottom of the cup. :)

  38. I get your emails!

    Thank you so much.

    Ann P

  39. I had never thought of all those different ways to brew tea – very interesting post!

  40. hey stacy, i’m sure enjoying your site :) i love using a tea ball for loose tea. we’re HUGE tea fans here, i think we use like a gallon of honey a money on it… congrat’s on the upcoming baby and new house. how exciting!

  41. Hello! I’ve been a tea drinker since early grade school! Usually it is just black tea with milk. It’s healthy, delicious,
    and cheap.

  42. Julie N. says:

    I have a Japanese tea cup that has its own special glass strainer. The strainer fits right on top of the cup and I just lift it out when I’m finished steeping my leaves! It’s easy to wash and use =)

  43. sally rawlings says:

    I have a tea pot with a removable filter in the middle for loose tea it works great love tea and love your Blog congrats!! sally rawlings

  44. I have always wanted to try making sun tea, and have never tried. It’s going to happen this summer!
    Thanks for the tips!

  45. sally rawlings says:

    I got very excited to place an order from this company but unfortunately they charge very very high shipping rates to alaska( by mail for pete’s sake) apparently they arent a very ethical company making a profit off the shipping charges…it was more than half the amount of the order23.00 plus to mail 3.5 pounds ( it would fit an a flat rate box less than half the cost) so buyer beware !!! you can bet I will tell all my friends sally rawlings

    • Sally, this was the response from More Than Alive. :-) I hope it clears things up for you:
      “I am very sorry to hear this. I looked into this and it seems we had a misunderstanding with this lady and she has taken offense. We are not exactly sure why she is offended, but in order to let her know we care, we are shipping her order out for free. We hope this will appease her and take away whatever offense was caused.”

  46. My package came in the mail today. It smells so good and I can’t wait to try it later! Thank you!

  47. I can relate with you , Stacey. I didn’t liked tea either. But as I kept drinking it, I developed the tast for it.

    I brew mine using a coffee maker and tast well.

  48. Tea never stop giving good benefits in the body. It promote clearer thinking and enhance normal flow of the blood. It helps to lose weight and lower blood pressure.

  49. LOL I have a tea ball that I have never used for tea. I use it for the loose spices when I am cooking/canning for easy removal. Love that little thing!

  50. NancyBurke says:

    Thanks for this post, Stacey! I just now found your blog!
    I would like to add that I am a huge fan of using light agave over honey or sugar to sweeten my tea. You get a “soft”, mild sweetness. I can’t do artificial sweeteners as they make me gag!!! I am sitting at home sick as a dog with a nasty cold and just brewed a cup of “blueberry bliss”. It comes loose at “Teavana” in our local mall. They have a great selection of high quality loose tea, and you can even mix the varieties to make your own custom favors.
    I don’t have a tea ball, but used cheesecloth instead, as you suggested. Turned out perfect!!!

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