Green Tea Steep Time: Every Minute Counts to Avoid Bitterness

Jill Caren

Green tea is a super healthy and extra tasty beverage if you brew it properly. If you make a mistake with the water temperature or …

Categories Green Tea

Green tea is a super healthy and extra tasty beverage if you brew it properly. If you make a mistake with the water temperature or steep time, you’ll end up with a bitter and unpalatable drink.

Steeping time is essential for avoiding bitterness and getting the desired color and flavor of your green tea.

Here I will show you what the recommended steeping times are for different types of green tea. I’ll also give you some tips that will help you always get a perfect cup of green tea.

How Long Should You Steep Green Tea?

When it comes to green tea steeping time, there is not only one answer. Green tea is a delicate beverage that can quickly become bitter or change color and flavor if steeped for a longer time.

So, how long should I steep my green tea to avoid bitterness? Depending on the type of green tea you’re drinking, the quality of tea leaves, and your personal preference, the ideal green tea steep time can range anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes.

Because the type primarily determines the duration of a green tea infusion, here is the steeping time for the most popular types of green tea:

Green TeaSteep TimeWater Temp.
Sencha45 sec.-1 min.150-170°F
Bancha45 sec.-1 min.176°F
Genmaicha2-3 min.170°F
Hojicha30 sec.-2 min.190°F
Gyokuro2 min.104-122°F
Dragon Well2-3 min.176-185°F
Biluochun1.5-3 min.167-176°F
Maofeng1 min.167-176°F
Flavored Green Tea2-4 min.158-176°F
Steep time and water temperature for various green tea types

Note: The steeping duration and water temperatures presented in the table above are only averages. Always check the label or ask your tea supplier about the steeping time and water temperature for the type of green tea you’ve chosen.

The table for green tea steeping times shows little difference between Chinese and Japanese green tea steeping times.

In general, Japanese green teas (Bancha, Sencha, Gyokuro, Genmaicha) require a lower brewing temperature and shorter steeping time compared to Chinese green teas (Dragon Well, Biluochun, Huangshan Maofeng). Also, I must note that there is always an exception to this claim.

Effects of Steep Time on Green Tea Flavor and Benefits

The steeping time is not the only factor that affects the tea’s flavor and benefits. Water temperature, tea leaf quality, tea type, water-to-leaf ratio, and other variables all have an impact.

When it comes to green tea, the water temperature and steeping time have a big impact, especially on the tea’s flavor and the potential healthy compounds extracted during the infusion.

Now or after you finish reading this article it is good to see the details about the water temperature in my detailed article about the Best Brewing Temperature for Green Tea and why it’s so important.

Many people believe that higher temperatures or longer steeping times are better. This is NOT true, especially for green tea.

Effects on Catechins, Flavor, and Color

As you may already know, the main beneficial effects of green tea have been linked to its high content of bioactive compounds, particularly catechins. EGCG is the most abundant and active catechin in green tea and is commonly used as a quality indicator.

According to a 2015 study, if the water temperature is above 185°F (85°C) and the steeping duration is longer than 3 minutes, the infusion of EGCG into hot water is reduced.

Note: This study focuses on Turkish green tea rather than Chinese or Japanese green tea, but it’s a good example to show you how higher water temperature and longer steeping time affect the green tea’s healthy compounds.

Furthermore, steeping green tea for a longer period of time at a higher temperature than recommended results in bitter and astringent tea with a brownish color rather than the light yellowish or green color typical of this tea.

On the other hand, if the green tea steep time is too short, you won’t extract enough flavors and antioxidants.

It’s worth noting that, due to temperature sensitivity and time dependence, prolonged cold steeping of green tea (two hours) yields the maximum antioxidants.

Effects on Caffeine Levels

Besides the flavor, aroma, polyphenols, and other compounds, there is another component of green tea that increases in the infusion if you steep it longer-caffeine.

According to some research, steeping green tea for an additional minute boosts caffeine levels by up to 29%, while using boiling water instead of water at the recommended temperature raises caffeine content by 66%.

Additionally, I have to mention here that green tea is naturally rich in caffeine. Also, different types of green tea contain different levels of caffeine. There are green teas with higher and ones with lower caffeine content.

Steeping Green Tea Without Getting Bitter: Tips

Here are some useful tips and techniques that will help you make a perfect cup of green tea every time.

  • Leaf-to-Water: Use 2 grams (about one teaspoon) of loose leaf green tea per 6 fl. oz. of water.
  • Water: Try to use fresh, filtered, or spring water. Don’t use boiling water. Green tea’s water temperature varies depending on the type, but it should be between 140 and 178°F.
  • Steeping Time: It’s usually between 30 seconds and 3 minutes. It may be shorter or longer depending on the kind of green tea. When starting the infusion, pour the hot water over the tea leaves, not the other way around. Keep the teapot covered during steeping.

Green tea’s steeping time is just one of the factors that affect the final taste of the tea. You should know how to brew your green tea properly. For that purpose, you can visit my detailed article where all steps for brewing green tea are explained.

Leaf-to-Water Ratio

There is no ideal tea-to-water ratio because it is entirely dependent on personal taste. However, in general, a good rule of thumb is to use 2 grams (about one teaspoon) per 6 ounces (178 ml) of water. In the West, we usually use an 8-ounce cup, so you may use a little more than one teaspoon of tea leaves per cup.

If you prefer a stronger flavor, you can always add more loose leaves. I recommend starting with the recommended amount of leaf-to-water when you first try a new green tea, and then you can make an adjustment.


You can make everything right, but if you use bad water, your green tea will taste bad too. Try to avoid using tap or distilled water. Don’t re-boil old stale water. Always use fresh, filtered, or spring water.

For most green teas, the ideal steeping water temperature is between 140 and 185 °F (60-85 °C). Again, this temperature range is general. Different types of green tea require different steeping water temperatures. Anyway, one thing is for sure: DON’T USE boiling water. Your green tea will become bitter and unpleasant to drink.

You can boil the water and let it cool for a couple of minutes, but the best way is to use an electric kettle with temperature settings or simply use a tea thermometer.

Steep Tea

Before steeping the tea, be ready to stop the infusion and separate the leaves from the water.

Many people use a brew basket or infuser that can be simply removed when the tea is ready. I personally don’t use them. They are generally small (especially ball infusers).

They don’t allow the entire leaf to unfurl and make good contact with the water allowing the complete flavor and beneficial compounds to be released. I let the tea infuse in a teapot, and then I use a strainer to separate the leaves from the infusion.

Pour the water over the tea leaves, not the other way around. Always keep the cup or teapot covered during steeping. When steeping time is over, remove the loose tea leaves immediately.

And for the green tea steeping time, it’s usually 30 seconds to 3 minutes, but check the table above for the steeping times for different green tea types. If you prefer a lighter flavor, try steeping your green tea for less time than recommended!

Tea’s Color

The color of brewed green tea is a good indicator of properly steeped tea. When steeped, all green teas develop some color. It can range from deep yellow to light or moss green.

Anything brownish or deeper brown indicates that your green tea is over-steeped, and the taste will be bitter and unpalatable. Also, if the color is really pale, you need to steep it longer.

If you make everything by the book and you still don’t like the taste of your green tea, you can use a sweetener to improve its flavor. Here you can find all the sweeteners for green tea that are not white sugar.

Resteeping (2nd Infusion)

After the first infusion, green tea leaves still have soluble compounds that you can extract. Unlike other fermented teas, green teas have limited infusions; usually, you can re-steep green tea only 2 or 3 times. You can try more, but you’ll definitely get a pale and unpleasant tea.

When re-steeping green tea for the second or third time, don’t expect to get the same flavor. Every new infusion gives you a different flavor.

Here are some things to watch for when you’re making a second infusion of green tea:

First and very important is to do a second infusion as soon as you can (I mean minutes, not hours) because the tea leaves are already wet and start to degrade fast.

Another key thing to remember while re-steeping green tea is to serve each infusion to the last drop if brewing in a teapot. If you leave some water in the teapot with the tea leaves, they will continue to steep, and you will not obtain good tea from the re-steeping.

You’ll need the same amount of leaves and water as you did for the first brew. This time the leaves are already wet and unrolled from the first steeping. This means that the second infusion should be done with slightly hotter water and a shorter steeping time, such as 30 or 60 seconds.

Some people make the 2nd infusion of green tea with the same water temperature and steep time as the 1st brew and then adjust the temperature and time to taste. This may be handy if you want to try several flavors until you find the one that is suitable for you.

You may even try a third infusion with your green tea, although I generally finish with the second, especially when drinking Japanese green tea.

Cold Brew Green Tea: Steeping Time

Cold brewing tea means steeping tea leaves in cold filtered water and waiting for extraction. This method is far simpler than steeping tea in hot water.

There is no risk of over-steeping when using cold water. Also, tea brewed with cold water doesn’t have any bitter notes because cold water doesn’t extract tannins, which are responsible for the astringent taste. Additionally, cold-brewed green tea has less caffeine than hot-brewed green tea.

One disadvantage of cold brewing green tea is that you need to wait.

For cold brewing green tea, the minimum steeping time is 3 hours. You can steep your green tea in cold water and place it in a refrigerator for a maximum of 24 hours. I personally like the flavor of Japanese Sencha cold brewed after 6–8 hours of steeping.

You can experiment by tasting your green tea every hour after 3 hours of steeping. After every hour, the taste will vary and by doing this you can stop the infusion at the hour when you enjoy the taste the most.

Final Points on Recommended Steeping Time for Green Tea

The steeping time of green tea varies depending on the type you want to brew. In general, the steeping time for green tea is between 30 seconds and 3 minutes. Some types, such as flavored green teas, require even longer steeping durations.

In general, green tea doesn’t require long steeping. If you leave it to steep for longer than the recommended time, your tea will become bitter and unpleasant with a brownish color that is not characteristic of properly steeped green tea.

Besides steeping time, the water temperature also has a big impact on green tea’s final flavor. In general, green teas are best brewed with water temperatures in the range between 140 and 178°F, depending on the type. Boiling water should be avoided.

Additionally, you can make cold-brewed green tea by using cold filtered water instead of hot. This method is simpler than hot brewing but requires more time. For cold brewing green tea, you need to steep the green tea leaves for a minimum of 3 hours or max. 24 hours.

Finally, I think I’ve covered all the details related to green tea steep time. Aside from knowing more about the steeping times of green tea, it is always good to ask your tea provider about the steep time and water temperature of the green tea you’re buying.