How To Make Green Tea

Step-By-Step Instructions on How to Make Green Tea

houhin teapot set

First, you will need a teapot. Japanese green tea is compact and needs room to expand. Tea balls do not work well at all. You'll be much better off using a Japanese teapot that was designed with green tea in mind.

What kind of teapot should you use?

This depends on the steaming of your green tea.  Deep steamed green tea has tiny dust like leaf particles, light steamed green tea has big leaf particles, and medium steamed green tea has leaf particles somewhere in between those.  There are specialty teapots for light steamed, deep steamed, and for general use.  Here is a teapot for general purpose use which you can use it to brew any steaming, but if you find yourself later addicted to a particular type of tea like say, gyokuro, or deep steamed green tea then getting the appropriate teapot will definitely make your life easier.

In this case, we are going to use a houhin teapot to make a light steamed green tea. This type of teapot would not really be appropriate for a deep steamed green tea (Fukamushi-cha) as the leaf particles are too fine - be sure to use the appropriate type of teapot! 

Step 1 - The first thing you will want to know is how much water your teapot and teacups will hold to help determine the proper leaf-to-water ratio you will need. Before you even make your first infusion, fill your teapot and teacup(s) with water, then pour the contents into a measuring cup to know exactly the volume of water you will be dealing with.

Step 2 - Heat your water. This is where most mistakes are made. The proper brewing temperature for most sencha green tea is between 70C ~ 80C (158 F ~ 176 F) degrees. Note that this is much lower than boiling point of water which is 100C (212F). Will 10 degrees make a difference? Yes!

Things to consider when determining water temperature.

  • The water temperature you start with.
  • The water temperature each and how it changes each time you transfer water from one vessel to another.
  • How long the water is in each vessel.

These factors must be taken into consideration when learning how to make green tea properly and you can use them to your advantage.

 Speaking of water... Good quality water is essential. You can easily be doing everything "right" and ruin your results by using poor water. Tap water almost never makes good green tea. Bottled mineral water is usually quite good.

Start by heating water to the point where it is simmering but not boiling. Here we are starting off with water that is 90 C (194 F). That's too hot to brew green tea directly, we need to cool that down first.

pour hot water

Important Concept - The best way to get your water temperature correct is by starting with very hot water at the beginning and transferring the water back and forth between the teapot and the teacups, cooling the water and pre-warming the teacups at the same time. Learn to do this and you will go far!

The hot water is first poured into the empty teapot and allowed to sit for a minute or two. This will simultaneously drop the water temperature to about 80 C (176 F) and pre-heat the teapot.

Step 3 -Continuation of the above Important Concept: Pour hot water from teapot into the empty teacup(s). This will further simultaneously cool your water further, and also pre-heat the teacups, and it will also let you measure out exactly the right amount of water you are going to use. Toss out any remaining water from the teapot.

Tip:  For teas that require cooler water temperatures, transfer more often, wait longer. For teas that need higher temperatures, transfer back and forth less.

Step 4 - While we are waiting for the water to cool a bit more, let's measure out some leaf for our infusion.


Proportion of tea to water...Generally speaking (and it can vary) use .6 grams (dry weight) of sencha leaf for each 30 ml (one fluid ounce) of water.

gyokuro leaf

It's quite helpful to use a small scale (easily found on eBay) which measures to the tenth of a gram. In case you don't have one, it just so happens that one teaspoon is very close to 4 grams.

The two small cups of this rather small tea set hold a combined 100 ml (3.38 ounces) of water. If you are measuring using fluid ounces, simply multiply 3.38 times .6 grams of leaf for your result. If you are using metric, 100 ml (the amount our teapot holds) divided by 30 ml comes out to 3.33. Multiply that by .6 grams and we end up with 1.99 grams of loose leaf. In this example, we'll round that up to 2 grams, or very close to one half teaspoon. Add this to the pre-warmed, empty teapot.


pour green tea

Step 5 - Pour the hot water from the two small cups directly into the teapot and brew with the lid on. How long to brew? This will depend a lot on the tea and the water temperature. For a lighter steamed green tea, you can brew for 1.5 to 2 minutes. For a medium steamed green tea, about 1 minute is usually good. For a deep steamed green tea, 30 to 45 seconds is usually about right.

Step 6 - Pour from the teapot into the teacups little by little from cup to cup, going back and forth evenly.


brewed gyokuro

Near the end, carefully shake the teapot in a downward motion and try to get every drop possible into the two teacups. For your first infusion, you will most likely not fill the cups entirely as the dry leaf will soak up quite a bit of the water but on subsequent infusions the cups should be quite full.

Once you have finished pouring, store the teapot with the wet leaves so that the lid is partially covering it.

Now you know how to make green tea! You can repeat the process 2 or 3 more times. It's not quite necessary to wait so long on subsequent infusions, anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute will do. Near the last infusion you can increase the time to get every last bit of flavor out of the leaf.

Also learn How to Make Matcha and How to Brew Gyokuro

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