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How to Re Steep Tea

Re steeping your tea can help you get more tea for your money. So, you may have wondered if, after steeping tea, whether you can use that bag or loose-leaf tea again. It seems like a great idea, but can you – and how do you do it?

To re steep tea:

  • Submerge the tea: Place the used tea leaves into the infuser and pour in hot water.
  • Add some fresh tea: You can also add a little bit more tea if you want to give it a fuller flavor.
  • Watch the steep time: It will need a couple of extra minutes from the first time it was steeped. 
  • Remove the tea leaves: Once ready, pull the tea from the water and set aside to steep again.

There are many teas you can resteep. Many loose-leaf teas are even meant to be resteeped. The flavor of your tea will vary with each steep that can make for an interesting tea experience. How many times can you re steep tea and which ones?  To learn more about re steeping tea, read below.

What Does It Mean to Re Steep Tea – And Why Would You Do It?

Re steeping tea simply means using the tea more than one time. Resteeping is best when done with loose leaf or uncrushed teas for the best flavor. Tea bags with whole leaves can also be resteeped at least twice. 

Many tea drinkers choose to re steep tea:

  • To get the most out of a robust tea with flavor that can go a long way. 
  • For cost-savings. If your loose leaf is pricey, resteeping is how you can get the best value from it.
  • Simply to use and waste less.   If there is still flavor to be had, why discard the leaves?

If, upon experimentation, you find that resteeping allows your favorite teas to last longer, you just might be hooked. 

Dos and Don’ts of Re Steeping Tea

While this is an easy and straightforward process, there are things you can do to get it wrong. Know what to do (and what not to), so you get the best cup of tea:

DosDon’ts
Add fresh leaves in with the resteeped leaves for more flavor.Don’t re steep tea bags that aren’t whole leaf tea. Or just steep once or twice.
Use fresh spring water for better flavor.Don’t use tap water – it’s full of minerals that can make the tea taste harsh or metallic.
Remove tea leaves from the water after steeping time is up.Don’t brew big batches, and then try to reuse the bags. The tea will probably be weak and lack flavor.
Boost the water temperature just a bit when resteepingDon’t throw them away when you are done with them! Compost used tea leaves.
Make your second brew a cold brew! Put your used tea leaves in cold spring water overnight. Don’t squeeze your teabag after a steep! It releases additional tannins and can make your cup taste bitter. 
Steep right the first time, so your resteeped tea will be at its bestDon’t store used tea leaves or bags in the refrigerator. 

If you take care to steep your leaves well for the first cup, each successive steep has a better likelihood of producing a good-tasting tea. And each time you steep the same tea leaves, caffeine content goes down since most of the caffeine is released in the first brew! 

Should You Dry Off Tea Leaves Between Steeps?

You may wonder if tapping off the excess moisture from your leaves will help with the next steep. 

When you remove tea leaves from a steep, you may choose to spread them out flat on a paper towel. It’s not a necessary step, but it doesn’t hurt. As long as they are out of the water, the next steep should be just fine. 

Note: If you have maxed out your tea leaves and would like to dry them out not to steep, but to be used for their fragrance, try this: Dry them out a paper towel and let them bask in the sun or dry out in a barely warm oven until they have lost their moisture. Then use them in sachets in drawers or add to Epsom salts for a nice foot soak!

Can You Re Steep Tea Leaves the Next Day?

Teas are best when resteeped within a few hours of the first time they were steeped. 

It is not recommended to reuse tea leaves the next day. Tea begins to break down soon after steeping and, for best quality, should be reused within a few hours.  Oxidation and moisture will affect the flavor of the cup significantly. These conditions can also encourage bacterial growth on the soggy leaves, so it is better to discard used tea leaves at the end of the day.

Some teas are affected more than others. The delicate leaves of white tea are affected most with oxidation and moisture, while heartier black teas can endure these factors longer but are still affected. 

Other things that affect the ability to re steep tea include the variety, whether it is fine or coarse tea, the size and shape of the leaves, and whether it is made from roasted or unroasted leaves. 

All teas will be affected by time, moisture, and air over time, so it is better not to risk it. 

What is the Best Way to Resteep Loose Tea?

What is the best way to resteep loose tea? Can using a certain technique to steep tea make a difference in the taste and the times you can resteep it?

The best way to resteep tea is to buy premium quality tea leaves in the first place. Use quality water to brew the tea in and employ the Eastern tea steeping process for a better flavor and more uses out of the tea.

The two main ways of steeping tea are the Eastern and the Western methods. Typically, using the Eastern way, you can resteep tea with a quality taste longer than when using the western version. 

The Eastern Method of Tea Steeping

The Eastern version uses more tea and a lot less water: approximately 5 grams of tea to every 100 grams of water. A small ceramic cup with a loose lid is used; this is called a gaiwan.

The gaiwan is built for resteeping. You simply pour the tea into a cup or other dish between steeping and add water to start the next steep. 

How the Eastern Method of Steeping Is Done

The process can be lengthy, and the steps themselves could be considered “resteeping,” even though the typical steep time is only 15 to 30 seconds at a time. You taste the tea during the entire process as it changes and gets stronger over time. 

  • Preheat the gaiwan. 
  • Throw out the first 10-second steep. 
  • Then steep for 15 seconds the next steep.
  • Add five seconds every steep thereafter. 

Eastern tea requires patience and a love for tea. The leaves often last a dozen or more steeps and the flavors change and develop over time. This is not generally used for a quick cup – this type of steeping and resteeping is more of a sensory experience. 

Note that the Eastern method is best used with black, oolong or green teas and is not appropriate for herbal tea. 

The Western Method of Tea Steeping

The western method of brewing is what most Americans use and what many of us are familiar with: introducing hot water to the tea, letting it sit for a certain amount of time, and then removing the leaves or tea bag. 

It is quicker and easier and can also allow you to make large pots of tea at once. You may not get the same depth and quality of taste of the eastern tea method, but you can still get a great cup of tea on multiple steeps if you know how long to steep each type of tea and how hot your water should be. Check out the table below.

How Long to Steep and Resteep Teas

This table details the general guidelines for tea steeping and resteeping, using the western method. Using this method, most tea leaves will only be at their prime for only two or three steeps. 

While general guidelines do help, what matters most is how the tea tastes. Experiment with temperatures and steeping times until you find the taste that you like. 

Type of TeaHow Long to Steep (Minutes)Water TemperatureFor First Steep How Long to Resteep (Minutes)How Many Steeps You Can Get
White Tea4 to 5 170 – 180 ˚F1 to 2, each time2 or 3 
Green Tea2 to 3170 – 180 ˚F1 to 2, each time3-6 
OoLong Tea 3 to 5 190 – 195˚F 1 to 2, each timeUp to 10 
Black Tea 3 to 5 212˚F (boiling)1 to 2, each time2-3 Western infusions or 3-10 Eastern infusions
Herbal Tea, fresh5 to 15 212˚F (boiling)1 to 2, each time1 to 2, depending on the herb
Rooibus Tea5 to 10212˚F (boiling)1 to 2, each time3 to 4 
Herbal Tea, driedUp to 15-30 212˚F (boiling)1 to 2, each timeOnce or more, depending on the herb. 

As you can see, resteeping is dependent largely on which type of tea you are resteeping and its overall quality. And all of these are just guidelines. Experimentation is the best way for you to find the sweet spot for resteeping your tea. 

To Re Steep or Not to Re Steep – That is the Question…

Loose leaf tea is especially great for resteeping if it is done within hours of the time, it was first steeped. The amount of resteeping that a tea can handle depends on the type of tea and the method used to resteep it. Most teas can handle resteeping a few times and still give a flavor and quality that you will likely enjoy. 

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glass tea cups with different teas.  how to re steep tea graphic

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