Can You Make Tea in a Coffee Maker? And Is It a Good Idea?

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Even steadfast coffee drinkers can enjoy an occasional cup of tea. A water kettle is a big investment for that infrequent yearning, so can you make tea in a coffee maker instead?

You can brew tea in any drip coffee maker. There are some downsides to this process, especially if you’re particular about the quality of your tea. Some coffee makers overcome these issues by offering special accessories for making tea.

In this article, I’ll show you how to make tea in a coffee maker, and I’ll explain the disadvantages and how to get around them.

How to make tea in a coffee maker

It’s not difficult to make tea in a coffee maker, and you can accomplish this goal in one of two ways. No matter which method you use, you’re going to want to fully clean your coffee maker beforehand. Otherwise, you’ll end up with coffee-flavored tea.

Method 1: Brew the tea in your coffee maker

  1. Place one teabag into the brew basket (where the coffee grounds go) for each cup of tea you plan to brew. Close the lid.
  2. Use the coffee pot or a measuring cup to measure out one cup of water for each tea bag you added. Pour the water into the coffee maker’s water tank.
  3. Operate the coffee maker in the same way as you do when making coffee. In most cases, just press the power button. Once the process is complete, you will end up with a pot of tea instead of coffee.

Method 2: Heat water and then steep the tea

The alternate way of making tea in a coffee maker is to put nothing in the coffee filter area and simply use the coffee maker as if you were brewing a pot of coffee. You will then receive a full pot of plain hot water that can be used to make your favorite tea in the mug of your choice.

This is the better option, but it does require a couple of extra minutes of your time.

Disadvantages of Making Tea in a Coffee Maker

It can be quick and convenient to make your tea in a coffee maker, but there may be some disadvantages to doing so.

1. Coffee flavors can invade your coffee

The first disadvantage involves taste. Since you use your coffee maker to make coffee a majority of the time, your tea could come out tasting like old, stale coffee has tainted it. And trust me, that’s a bad thing, even for a coffee lover.

This problem can be eliminated, but it would require you to thoroughly clean the coffee maker prior to making the tea, and be sure to use vinegar and hot water to remove all the residue. 

2. Your measurements won’t be accurate

Another disadvantage of making tea in a coffeemaker is a potential problem getting the measurements right. It can seem simple to make a full pot of tea, but what if you simply want one or two cups? How do you measure it then? 

This might be a difficult problem to overcome, and you might simply have to experiment with how much tea to use with how much water. There may be a bit of trial and error in the beginning, but once you figure it out, you can write it down so you won’t have to guess again in the future.

3. The steeping time won’t be right

Yet another disadvantage that you might encounter if you opt to brew tea with a coffee maker is the fact that most teas require a specific steeping time, while coffee immediately brews and is done.

For instance, if a certain type of tea recommends a 10-minute steep time, then using a coffee maker will not work because failing to steep the tea for the appropriate length of time could result in weak-tasting or bland tea. You could also end up with a tea that is too strong-tasting by steeping tea in a coffee maker, as well. 

If you merely heat the water in the coffee maker before adding the hot water and tea to a mug and steeping it, then there shouldn’t be an issue. You could also overcome this issue with immersion-style coffee makers like a French press, but those generally require you to heat the water in advance, so you’ll still need a water kettle.

4. You can’t control the water temperature

Every type of tea has a perfect steeping temperature, and most coffee makers don’t let you adjust the hot water. If you’re using an automatic pour-over coffee maker, you probably have this option—otherwise, you’re stuck with whatever the machine does by default.

Most coffee makers heat to between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s fine for black tea, oolong tea, and some herbal teas. It’s too hot, though, for green teas, white teas, and some herbal teas. If you’re just heating the water in your coffee maker, you could always let it cool for a couple of minutes for these other tea varieties.

Better Coffee Makers for Brewing Tea

You can overcome some of the above disadvantages by buying the right coffee maker. Ninja and Keurig have built tea-brewing options for their coffee makers, both of which are superior to trying to brew coffee in a standard drip coffee maker.

Making tea in a Ninja coffee maker

Many newer Ninja coffee makers are designed to brew both coffee and tea. The Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System—probably the best coffee maker for tea drinkers—has separate brew baskets for tea and coffee. Since it has single-cup brewing options, you can make a cup of coffee without ever picking up extra flavors from the coffee brew basket or the coffee carafe.

Their machine also controls the temperature of the water, unlike lower-end drip coffee makers. It has presets to optimize the water temperature, brew time, and other settings for oolong tea, herbal tea, black tea, green tea, or white tea. They’ve basically fixed all of the downsides of making tea with a drip coffee maker.

Making tea in a Keurig coffee maker

There are numerous varieties of pods that can be used in a Keurig. While the majority of these pods are flavors and types of coffee, there are some tea pods that can make enjoying a cup of hot tea simple. However, unless you use your Keurig for strictly making tea—or clean your Keurig frequently—the taste of your tea could be compromised due to the remnants of coffee in the machine.

You could also use your Keurig to make hot water for your tea in the event you’re using tea bags. This is an easy process, and all you do is run a normal brew without a pod.

Your mug will be filled with heated water, so you can just toss in a tea bag, and you’re all set. If you’re using loose tea, then you can use a reusable pod container that enables you to put any type of coffee grounds (or loose tea) inside the pod and brew it in the Keurig.

What’s the Best Tea for a Coffee Maker?

If you’re using a Keurig or a Ninja, you can brew pretty much whatever type of tea you want. However, for other teas you’ll want to keep both the steeping time and temperature in mind.

Oolong is perfect because of its high steeping temperature and very short steeping time. Black teas are also fine, though they may end up slightly weak since they won’t steep long enough. Green teas have a short steeping time, but the high temperature of the water might make the tea bitter.

On the other end of the spectrum, herbal and rooibos teas require long steep times, so a drip coffee maker won’t work well for them.

What’s Next?

These tricks will work in a pinch, but unless you get a Keurig or a Ninja, your coffee maker won’t be a great long-term tea solution. There are some very attractive water kettles that will enable you to make your tea a lot easier, faster, and better. 

As a bonus, that tea kettle gives you a reason to try out pour-over coffee or an AeroPress coffee maker, either of which can make far better coffee than the typical drip coffee maker. Toss in a small coffee grinder, and you could create your own miniature barista corner with everything you need for tea, coffee, cocoa, and more.

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