Time4Tea wrote:Please teach me or direct me to where I can learn more about this business of multiple steeps .... What is the point of multiple steeping? Can all teas be steeped multiple times, or does it differ between black teas, green teas, etc.? How come different notes come out from different steeps? How long do you wait between steeps?
First, this question would be enormously easier to answer if you were asking about a specific tea. But I will try a general answer because I have no common sense.
When I started I thought multiple steeps were just what my mother did to save money, but now I multi-steep pretty much everything. For me,
1) Often, I just enjoy a cup so much I am eager to repeat the same thing and the easiest way to do that is by putting the same leaves into water again.
2) It seems a shame to waste anything.
3) I like that the caffeine tends to be less and less in each subsequent steep (caffeine does not all come out in the first minute or half minute, by the way: that is an oft repeated, but gross, error.)
4) With some tea (oolongs and greens), you are missing the best part if you don't go for at least a second or third steep.
5) I love the way the taste and texture change from first steep to sweet tea-water.
6) Finally, I get a sense of accomplishment from squeezing every drop of goodness from my tea.
As you do subsequent steeps, you will want to modestly increase the time and temperature (unless you started out with boiling as in black tea). You might want to increase time by say 30% to 60% depending on how it tastes to you.
For oolong, puerh, or green tea, the second or third steep is often the best. But the number of steeps will depend also on how much tea you use and how good the quality is.
I usually go three to five steeps with Japanese and Chinese greens and most oolongs. For exceptionally fine oolongs, Dan Cong oolongs, and raw puerh I will go more ... a lot more, sometimes as many as 20 steeps and I've heard of people going beyond that with supreme teas. This kind of endurance requires gong fu style brewing with a gaiwan or yixing pot, top quality tea, lots of leaf, little water, and short initial steep times, sometimes as little as 5 seconds initially.
With some of these teas (esp puerh and aged oolong) there may be mercurial revelations in the taste and aroma of the tea as you put it through its paces. At the other extreme, a tea can be monotone, exhibiting a single, unchanging profile -- what may of course be very nice, just not changeable.
With my blacks (Assam, Darjeeling, Chinese, Ceylon, etc.) I generally expect at least two rounds, sometimes three and if the stuff is really good I squeeze out a fourth. Most of the time the first steep is the best, but sometimes the second is the better, esp if the first is a little rough.
Hope this helps a little, but like I say, the real answer to your question is to keep asking about specific teas and you will find lots of specific suggestions from our fellow TeaChatters.