When it comes to herbal tea, the length of the steep is about more than just taste. Let's take a look at everything you need to know about how long to steep herbal tea, and why.
Shouldn’t I Just Follow the Instructions on the Bag?
Good question! As a basic guideline, you can’t go wrong doing just that. The preparation instructions are there for a reason. After all, tea companies don’t just make up numbers at random.
By following the steeping instructions found on your bag, you’re sure to end up with a perfectly lovely cuppa. No fuss, no muss. The flavor will probably be just right – neither too overwhelming, nor too bitter – and because they usually give you a window (for example, three to six minutes), you can adjust within that short window to accommodate your flavor preferences.
If the Steeping Instructions Work, Why Would I Try Any Other Time?
It all depends on what you want from your tea.
If you’re interested purely in flavor, the recommended steeping time should steer you in the right direction.
Herbal tea comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, but certain ingredients are common. Flowers, roots, and, naturally, herbs are featured regularly in herbal blends. Consequently, steeping for a long time, while resulting in a stronger tea, can also make the tea bitter.
If you drink tea because you enjoy the taste and that is the end of the story for you, stick to a shorter steep time. Three to five minutes will probably be your sweet spot. I often enjoy herbal tea at the end of the day as dessert, and I find that four minutes provides the perfect amount of sweetness for a dessert-themed tea like Vanilla Sugar Cookie or Chocolate Hazelnut.
If, on the other hand, you are interested in the potential health benefits that herbal tea has to offer, you may be interested in a longer steep time.
But If It’s Bitter, Why Would I Bother?
Tea is not a substitute for medicine, and I am certainly not a substitute for a doctor.
That being said, there are some studies, as well as anecdotal evidence, that support the therapeutic effects that tea can have on a wide array of ailments. Chamomile tea, for instance, possesses anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown in some cases to help aid digestion or reduce nausea.
You may find that certain herbal teas calm your nerves when you are feeling anxious (Calm Chamomile Bloom with rose and lavender, perhaps?) or help you wind down at the end of the day. For me personally, there’s nothing like snuggling up at the end of the day and decompressing with a steaming mug of Cuddletime Herbal Tea with its gentle notes of chamomile and mint. Or you may find that certain herbal teas like Rejuvenation Blend with lemon and ginger or Refreshing “After Dinner” Mint tea soothe your headache or clear your sinuses.
If that is the case, and you’re looking to boost the benefits of herbal tea, then a longer steep time is a great way to go. Just as a longer steep for caffeinated teas result in higher caffeine levels, the other goodness in your tea can be heightened when it takes a longer soak before your first sip.
(As a side note, because herbal teas are not caffeinated, you never have to worry about supercharging your caffeine levels if you let your herbal blend steep for ten minutes or longer. So no jitters for you, my friend!)
For those of you who are excited about possible benefits but are less enthusiastic about the resulting flavor, there are plenty of tasty add-ins to beat that bitterness!
And for the ultimate “long steep,” why not indulge in a tea bath? Though in this case, you would bathe in the tea rather than drink it... let’s be clear on that! Don’t drink the bath water!
Herbal teas make for excellent bath tea because of their naturally soothing ingredients – think lavender, chamomile, and mint. Filling your tub with your favorite herbal blend is a lovely way to literally soak up some benefits in the most relaxing way possible. I’m not saying you’ll absorb whatever beneficial properties it may offer simply through osmosis, but if nothing else, it smells and feels great. Why not try a tranquil tub of Coco-Lavender Herbal Chai or Sage Wellness Herbal Tea with sage and citrus? Settle in and feel your cares wash away.
So there you have it. You need never again be baffled by how long to steep herbal tea. Whether it’s for a scant two minutes, a full fifteen, or forty-five in the bathtub, your Plum Deluxe herbal blend is sure to be delicious, relaxing, and well worth the wait – however long that may be.