To Steep or To Brew?

Every time I see the word “brew” it immediately conjures up images of vats of lager and mounds of coffee beans waiting to be turned into heavy brown liquid, yet many tea companies refer to the process of making tea as “brewing”. This got me thinking… and I just spent the last hour doing google searches on the difference between steeping and brewing tea. This is what I gathered from the Free Online Dictionary…

Steep (

1. to soak or be soaked in a liquid in order to soften or cleanse
2. steeped in filled with: an industry steeped in tradition

Brew (

1. To make (ale or beer) from malt and hops by infusion, boiling, and fermentation.
2. To make (a beverage) by boiling, steeping, or mixing various ingredients: brew tea.
3. To concoct; devise: brew a plot to overthrow the government.
Did that make sense? Apparently to brew tea involves steeping but to steep tea doesn’t involve brewing. Interesting and confusing. So what is the correct way to make tea? Both seem to be the answer and I suppose it comes down to preference.  I will continue to steep my tea while others are welcome to brew theirs. For me it just comes down to the simple fact that I like the way “steeping tea” sounds as opposed to “brewing tea.” I’ll be steeping my morning tea (jade oolong) shortly, while some of you will choose to brew yours.
To Steep or To Brew?

7 thoughts on “To Steep or To Brew?

  1. Zanitea says:

    Thank you for this post, I always use the two terms interchangeably, but wonder if I’m using each the right way.


  2. I know what you mean…. brewing is, at least in my mind, associated with coffee. I wonder how the term started being used for tea. I admit sometimes it doesn’t “feel” right. One day I half expect someone to say… “duh Tea Escapade you brew coffee and beer – NOT tea…”


  3. Ah. Its something that has intrigued me for a while now. I see so many companies and people using/saying BREW for tea. I dunno.. just doesnt work for me. I wonder why no one says they steep their coffee beans? Being a 100% non coffee drinker, I know nothing about the bean.


  4. Funny. I used to always say brew until I started blogging and reading other blogs about tea. That’s when I expanded my vocabulary to include steep. Now I use them interchangeably.


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