How many tablespoons of loose tea per cup?

Quick Answer

The standard ratio for brewing loose leaf tea is 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) per 6-8 oz cup. This will produce a well-balanced cup of tea with good flavor. Some tea drinkers prefer 2 tablespoons per 8 oz cup for a stronger brew. The exact amount can vary based on personal taste and the type of tea. Finely chopped teas may require a bit more, while large whole leaf teas need less.

Detailed Answer

When brewing loose leaf tea, there are a few factors that determine how much tea to use per cup:

Leaf Size

Teas with smaller, finely chopped leaves tend to brew faster and release more flavor. They require a bit more tea per cup, often 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 tablespoons. Teas with large, whole leaves brew slower and need less tea, around 1 tablespoon or slightly less.

Desired Strength

More tea per cup results in a stronger, bolder brew. The standard starting point is 1 tablespoon per 6-8oz cup. But tea drinkers who prefer a robust cup might use 2 tablespoons per 8oz cup. For a milder tea, 3/4 to 1 tablespoon per cup is sufficient.

Type of Tea

Different tea types have their own ideal brewing parameters. Black teas are typically brewed strong, so can stand up to 1 1/2 tablespoons or more per cup. Delicate green and white teas brew best with lower ratios like 1 teaspoon per 6oz cup. Herbal tisanes are not technically teas, but often brew well with 1 to 2 tablespoons per cup.

Personal Taste

In the end, how strong to brew tea comes down to individual preference. Some like theirs bold and bracing, while others prefer it mild. The best way to determine your perfect ratio is to experiment with different amounts until you find the strength and flavor you enjoy.

Water to Tea Ratio

The other factor along with tea quantity is water volume. The ideal water to leaf ratio is often cited as between 1:50 and 1:100. That means 1 teaspoon of tea per 50-100ml water, or approximately 2.5-5oz. Using this ratio helps ensure the leaves have enough room to fully expand and extract for a properly brewed cup.

Standard Tea Measurements

Knowing the basic measurements used for tea is helpful when portioning out the proper amount per cup.

Teaspoon and Tablespoon

A teaspoon is equal to approximately 2-3 grams of loose leaf tea
A tablespoon is equal to approximately 3-4 grams of loose leaf tea
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon


The most precise way to measure loose leaf tea is by weight in grams using a digital scale. The standard measurements are:
– 1-2 grams per 6 oz cup for green tea
– 2 grams per 6 oz cup for lighter black teas
– 2-3 grams per 6 oz cup for fuller black teas
– 3 grams per 6 oz cup for herbal tisanes

Tea Quantity Guidelines by Type

As a general guideline, here is how much loose leaf tea to use per 6-8oz cup for various tea types:

White Tea

1 teaspoon (2 grams)

White teas are very delicate with subtle flavors. Too much tea can overpower the taste. A ratio of 1 teaspoon per 6-8oz cup is ideal.

Green Tea

1-2 teaspoons (2-3 grams)

Many high quality green teas can be brewed multiple times. A lower quantity produces a milder first infusion to appreciate the delicate notes. Increase to 2 teaspoons for subsequent steeps.

Oolong Tea

1-2 teaspoons (2-3 grams)

Oolongs have varying oxidation levels. Greener styles brew best with 1 teaspoon per cup. More oxidized oolongs can handle 2 teaspoons per cup. Play around in that range to find your preferred strength.

Black Tea

1-2 tablespoons (3-6 grams)

Black tea’s bold flavor profile stands up well to higher quantities. Anywhere from 1-2 tablespoons per cup is common. Use less for a lighter brew or more for extra robustness.

Pu-erh Tea

1-3 teaspoons (2-5 grams)

Pu-erh’s earthy, woody taste can become overpowering if oversteeped. Start with 1 teaspoon per cup and adjust to taste. Older aged pu-erh can handle higher ratios since the flavors mellow over time.

Herbal Tea

1-2 tablespoons (3-6 grams)

Being an infusion and not made from actual tea leaves means herbal teas allow lots of room for personal preference. Most withstand 1-2 tablespoons per cup very well. Adjust up or down based on desired strength.

Iced Tea

3-5 tablespoons (9-15 grams)

Iced tea requires significantly more leaves because it is served cold and diluted with ice. A good rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon per 2-4oz of water. So for a 16oz glass, use 4-5 tablespoons of tea leaves.

Measuring Loose Leaf Tea Without Scales

Digital kitchen scales provide the most accuracy for weighing tea in grams. But there are ways to measure loose tea reasonably well without scales:

Teaspoons and Tablespoons

The traditional household measuring spoons used for cooking work fine for loose tea. Level off the teaspoon or tablespoon of tea leaves for best results.

Volume Measurement

Some teas list the tea quantity as a volume measurement in the brewing instructions. For example, 1 tsp per 6oz cup or 1 tbsp per 8oz cup. Follow the recommended volume, adjusting to taste.

Tea Scoops

Many tea companies include a small tea scoop with purchases. These are designed to measure an average teaspoon or tablespoon of loose tea leaves.

Bamboo Tea Measuring Cups

Specialty bamboo tea measuring cups have pre-marked sections for different tea quantities, such as 1⁄2 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, and 1 tablespoon. These can provide a visual guide for portioning tea without a scale.

Gram Scale Apps

Apps like Grams can use your smartphone’s sensors to estimate the weight of tea leaves in grams. While not as accurate as a real digital scale, they provide a ballpark measurement.

Does Tea Quantity Vary By Brew Method?

The optimal amount of loose leaf tea can shift a bit depending on your brewing method. Here are some tea quantity tips for different preparation styles:


Use the standard 1 tbsp per 6-8oz cup for black teas. For green and white teas, start with 1 tsp per cup in case of multiple steeps.

Infuser Basket

Fill the basket loosely without packing it down. Give the leaves plenty of room to expand and unfurl.

French Press

Use slightly less tea since the French press fully immerses the leaves. Start with 1 tsp green tea or 2 tsp black tea per cup.

Cold Brewing

Cold brew requires higher ratios, around 1 tbsp per 2-4oz of water.

Gongfu Style

The multi-steeping method uses high leaf-to-water ratios, typically 1 tbsp per 2-3oz cup.

Tips for Measuring Loose Leaf Tea

Here are some helpful tips for accurately measuring loose leaf tea using common spoons and scoops at home:

– Use a separate teaspoon or tablespoon for measuring tea rather than flatware, for consistency. The shape can affect the volume.

– Always level off the tea leaves across the top of the measuring spoon without packing down. Lightly shaking the spoon helps settle the tea into place.

– Tap the spoon gently on the edge of the cup or tea canister to level. This helps achieve a consistent measurement.

– Weigh the filled scoop or spoon on a kitchen scale periodically to check accuracy. Adjust your scooping pressure if needed to better standardize it.

– Use the same scoop or spoon each time so you replicate measurements. Differences in shapes and sizes can alter the volumes.

– Calibrate scoops using a scale to see how much the manufacturer’s 1 tsp or 1 tbsp scoop actually holds. They’re not always exact.

– Pay attention to the tea’s leaf size and adjust quantity as needed. Finely chopped teas may need a slightly heaping spoonful.


Here are some frequently asked questions about measuring loose leaf tea:

Does tea quantity change for larger or smaller cup sizes?

Yes, the amount of tea needs to be adjusted proportionally for different cup sizes. Use about 1 tablespoon per 6-8oz of water. For a larger 12oz mug, use around 2 tablespoons. For a smaller 4oz teacup, 3/4 to 1 teaspoon is sufficient.

Should you use more tea for a second or third steeping?

Not necessarily. Many high quality teas can be resteeped multiple times using the same tea leaf quantity. Just adjust steeping time, usually shorter for later infusions. However, some tea drinkers like to boost the tea leaves after the first steeping for bolder subsequent rounds.

Is it important to measure tea precisely or can you estimate?

Measuring carefully helps replicate the same great cup of tea consistently. But the leaf measurements don’t need to be ultra precise. Aim for the proper ratios and ranges for each tea type, adjusting to taste as needed. A kitchen scale removes the guesswork but household spoons work too.

How does tea quantity change for iced versus hot tea?

Iced tea requires much more tea leaves because it will be served cold and diluted by ice. A good rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon of tea per 2-4oz of water. So for 16oz of iced tea, use about 4-5 tablespoons of loose leaves.

What are signs you’re using too much or too little tea?

Too much tea can yield a very dark, astringent, and bitter brew. Leaves may have an unpleasant burnt or acrid taste. Too little tea can produce a very weak, watery cup that lacks depth and body. The flavor may be bland and the tea liquid very pale.


Determining the right amount of loose leaf tea to use per cup depends on a variety of factors like tea type, leaf size, brew method, and personal taste preferences. But as a general rule of thumb, a good starting point is 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) of tea leaves per 6-8oz cup of water. This can be adjusted up or down based on the tea variety, your desired strength, and infusion parameters. Investing in a gram scale removes the guesswork and helps achieve perfect customizable cups of loose leaf tea. But with practice, common household measuring spoons can also be used successfully. Follow the guidelines for different tea types, pay attention to quantity ratios, and enjoy discovering your ideal tea-to-water measurements.

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