Ah, the calming power of a great cup of tea! You say you don’t feel like using your stovetop or microwave to heat the water? Are you wondering if you can make tea in a coffee maker instead, using your favorite coffee brewing method? The short answer is yes, but you’ll want to really think about it first. Coffee and tea are both brewed to extract the flavor compounds using hot water.
Honestly, I’ve used my coffee maker to make tea plenty of times. That’s not to say I always love the way the tea tastes, but in a pinch, it works. If you’d like to give it a try, read on.
Step One: Clean Your Coffee Pot
Can you imagine the taste of tea brewed in a coffee pot that hasn’t been cleaned first?! Yuck! Unless you’re planning to use your coffee maker for tea only — and chances are that’s not the case — you need to clean your coffee maker first. Do not skip this all-important step, or your Oolong tea will have a distinct coffee taste after months of brewing coffee.
To clean your machine:
- Add four cups of vinegar to the carafe and pour it into the reservoir.
- Let the vinegar sit for 30 minutes.
- Turn the coffee machine on and let the vinegar run through a brewing cycle.
- Fill your carafe with cold water, pour it into the reservoir, and run another brewing cycle.
- Repeat one to two times until the smell of vinegar and any vinegar residue is gone.
Wipe down the entire coffee carafe and machine to eliminate any leftover coffee residue, especially all the little nooks and crannies in and around the basket compartment where coffee grounds sometimes stick.
Step Two: Consider the Tea You Want to Brew
Some teas will do fine in a coffee maker, but not all. Different types of tea need to be steeped at different water temperatures and for different lengths of time to pull out their rich flavor. (Teatulia provides a brewing chart for the different types of teas.)
So while herbal and black tea may brew fine in your coffee maker, green and white tea might burn because the water temperature in your coffee pot may be too hot — and who wants burned tea with bitter flavors?
Step Three: Decide on Using Loose Tea or Tea Bags
Once you’ve settled on a type of tea to brew, your next question might be, “Do I use loose tea or tea bags?” Actually, you can use either. If you choose loose tea, keep in mind that there are different ways to use it.
- Line the filter basket with a filter before scattering the loose tea leaves in it.
- Scatter the loose tea in the filter basket without a coffee filter.
- Put the loose tea in the carafe, let the hot water drip down over it, let it steep, and strain the tea before serving.
As you can imagine, it might be easier – and not as messy – to use tea bags in the steeping process, although the final result may not be as flavorful.
- Slice open a tea bag and scatter the tea on a filter in the filter basket.
- Put the bags in the filter basket without a filter.
- Put the tea bags in the carafe and let them steep in the hot water – this method gives you more control over the brewing time.
How much tea should you use? Again this is an area of debate, although most tea connoisseurs agree that one teaspoon of loose tea (or one tea bag) to every eight ounces of water should do the trick. If you want stronger tea, use more.
And there you have it! Clean your pot, choose your tea and brewing method, and voila! Keep in mind that you can make iced tea, too. Complete your hot brew cycle, let your tea cool, then add ice or refrigerate.
What About Other Types of Coffee Makers?
So far, we’ve talked about your good ‘ole standard automatic drip coffee machine. But did you know you can also use different coffee brewing methods, like a French press coffee maker, for tea? It takes more patience, but it may just yield a better-tasting cup!
You can also use an electric or stovetop percolator. A coffee percolator heats water to the boiling temperature at the bottom, shoots boiling water up a tube, and sprays it down on your delicate leaves or bags. Know, however, that if you use tea leaves, they can leave residue in the tubes, negatively affecting the taste of future coffee brews.
What about Keurigs? You can find K-cups of tea online or at your local grocer. Again, the tea may be weaker than using loose leaf tea or tea bags, but if you don’t mind, give it a try!
The Drawbacks of Making Tea in Your Coffee Maker
If you don’t clean your coffee maker first, your tea may have a bitter taste or taste like coffee. Tea aficionados will also tell you that when the water in your coffee maker — which may be too hot or not hot enough for your specific type of tea — squirts over your loose tea or tea bags, the machine has no idea how long to steep the tea.
You could also end up with a tea that tastes diluted, especially if you use tea bags in a filter.
Making tea in your coffee maker also takes away the “ceremonial” aspect of making tea — heating your water to the right temperature, using a tea ball and or strainer, pouring the tea slowly, and enjoying the process.
On the other hand, having the opportunity to brew your tea in a coffee maker can be a lifesaver if you don’t have a stove or microwave around. Plus, it lets you brew a large pot that will come in handy if you have company or want to make a large amount of ice tea!
Go For It!
So, can you make tea in a coffee maker? Yes, you can — but the real question is, do you really want to? For all the time you spend on the process, it may be quicker to just heat the water on a stovetop, in a microwave, or in an electric tea kettle.
If you do brew your tea in a coffee maker, be sure to appreciate the brewing process. Tea is supposed to calm you, not stress you out!