Can you Reuse Tea Leaves for Multiple Infusions?
Yes! Most teas can be steeped multiple times. Depending on the tea, the leaves can be steeped anywhere between 2 to 6 times. We recommend not reusing any leaves after they have sat for more than 3 hours to avoid bacteria growth.
While most teas can be steeped for multiple infusions, some teas just do better than others. The question really shouldn’t be, can you re-steep tea multiple times but should you? Honestly, the answer to this question will depend on your personal preference. However, here are our recommendations on the best teas to re-steep including the number of infusions you may be able to get out of each cup. By all means, we encourage you to experiment with all your teas. If you still enjoy the cup after a few steeps then that may be all that matters.
The Best Teas for Multiple Infusions
A Pu-erh tea is a post-fermented, aged black tea from the southern Chinese province of Yunnan. It is known for its dark and deeply rich, malty flavor. This earthy and complex tea has been aged several years making it perfect for multiple steeps. The more aged the tea the more steeps you can get from each cup, sometimes up to 5 re-steeps.
With their tightly rolled leaves, oolong teas such as this Monkey Picked Oolong seem to be perfectly designed for multiple infusions. With each steep, the leaves continue to unfurl giving each cup a slightly nuanced and mellow flavor. For a richer, sweeter cup try Ginseng Oolong. For Oolong tea expect as much as 4 to 6 infusions.
Black tea is full of tannins giving your first cup a strong and robust flavor. While you will get a bold and full-bodied first infusion, you should expect your second and third infusions to be more mellow. These additional infusions will still be delicious and have more nuanced notes, they just won’t be as bold as the first. We recommend 2 to 3 infusion of black tea such as this Assam tea from the Mokalbari Estate, Nilgiri Black Tea, or a breakfast tea like Irish Breakfast.
What about Herbal Teas?
Absolutely, we can’t leave out herbal teas. As a general rule you can steep herbal teas up to 3 infusions, but herbal teas vary drastically in their differences. This may just take some trial and error. What’s the worst that can happen? You may just end up wasting some hot water on a second infusion that just didn’t hold up. Here are a few herbal categories that need a bit more explaining.
This unique herbal tea is known for its bold, cranberry-like tart flavor. Hibiscus blossoms are also widely used to blend with other teas as well giving them a distinct flavor all their own. You can go all hibiscus with this pure, organic Hibiscus or try a blend such as our Black Cherry which is a combination of black tea and hibiscus. You can generally still maintain that beautiful hibiscus flavor after 2 to 3 steeps of this amazing flower.
Honestly, an yerba mate gourd should be refilled until you can no longer taste its amazing flavor. While there are many factors that contribute to how long the flavor lasts, the size of the gourd and the amount of yerba mate used are definitely big contributors. This Roasted Yerba Mate or our Good Morning Mate blend are great starters or even our Very Berry Guayusa. With yerba mate or guayusa you can expect anywhere from 3 to 5 steeps when prepared like traditional tea.
Rooibos is like a strong black tea minus all of the tannins; therefore, you won’t get any of the bitterness sometimes associated with black tea. This sweet and nutty South African shrub is rich and bold, enough so that it can hold up to multiple infusions. This Toasted Caramel Rooibos is a great choice or any of our other Rooibos infusions are worth experimenting with. While you will experience a drop in boldness you can still get that great flavor with anywhere between 2 to 4 infusions.
Does Tea Lose Its Nutritional Value with Multiple Steeps?
Many people drink teas, more specifically herbal teas for their health benefits. It is true that with each infusion some of the nutrients is lost; however, the polyphenols and catechins found in tea also tend to dissolve slower in water and could therefore become more powerful over time. In any case, second and third infusions are not completely depleted of all their nutritional value and can still be useful.
How to Resteep Tea?
Well, every tea is different and comes with different brewing instructions. For a list of how to brew the perfect cup for your specific tea see our Tea 101 page. Now the question becomes should I increase the temperature or the steep time to get more flavor out of my leaves? It is a valid question.
While maintaining the correct temperature is important during the first infusion to avoid bitterness from the tannins of the tea, most of the tannins have already been extracted from the first cups making this not as critical. Some believe that you should increase the steep time or temperature to extract more flavor, but the exact amount will be a matter of experimentation. We generally increase the steep time slightly.
How Long Between Steeps?
Wet and warm leaves are a breeding ground for bacteria. The general rule would be to not let your leaves sit longer than three hours before resteeping. Bacteria like that can make an otherwise good cup nauseating.
Some people have been known to save their used tea leaves for the next day. This can be done, but it isn’t necessarily recommended. If it is to be done, it needs to be done correctly by completely drying out the leaves to avoid the bacteria growth talked about earlier. Again, we don’t recommend it.
Tea should be enjoyed and multiple steeps means that you can get more from your tea leaves and you can experience your favorite teas in new and distinct ways. Each steep gives you a unique flavor profile that just can’t be achieved with the first batch. So, begin experimenting and finding new ways to get more from your tea.