Customers always ask, "What is the proper way to steep my tea?" While there are suggested optimal times and temperatures, the real answer is however you most enjoy your tea! The "optimal" situation really depends on whether you prefer your tea a bit lighter or full flavor, sweet or bitter. The below outline is merely a guideline -- you will only discover the perfect cup for you by trial and error.
Suggested Steeping for a Single Serving:
Herbal Tea: 200-212°F (boiling) for 5+ minutes
Black Tea: 200°F for 4-5 minutes
Green Tea: 160°F for 2-3 minutes (it tends to get bitter if steeped for too long)
Red Tea (Rooibos): 200-212°F (boiling) for 4-5 minutes
White Tea: 180°F for 1-3 minutes (it has a delicate taste, which can be ruined with water too hot)
Oolong: 190-200°F for 5-6 minutes
Pu-erh: 212°F (boiling) for 5 minutes
While it's easy to set a timer on any device, it can be more challenging to "set" the temperature of your water. If you have a programmable electric kettle, you can actually choose a specific temperature! But if you are like most of us and have a standard tea kettle, you (and everyone else in the house!) only know when it's boiling.
One way to tell the water temperature without a thermometer is by looking at the bubbles (if your kettle is see-through or if you're boiling water in an open pot). We love this illustration from A Little Tea Book that gives an idea of what to look for, from "tiny shrimp eyes" to "turbulent waters."
Let us know in the comments how you like to steep your tea and if you stick to a specific time and temp!