How long can I safely use oolong leaves?

Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.

How long can I safely use oolong leaves?

Postby Katrina » Apr 12th, '08, 23:33

I have a new love and its name is oolong... Now I need advice from you oolong gurus out there. (I know next to nothing about these teas.)

I have had it drilled into my head that wet tea leaves are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Yet, I also know that oolongs can/should be reinfused multiple times to get the best experience.

How do you reconcile these two facts? How long can I safely use the leaves? Are we talking a couple of hours or an afternoon?

Thanks for your help!

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Postby Victoria » Apr 12th, '08, 23:59

Oy. Well the subject has come up before. And there will be differences of opinion. The bottom line is, keep them as long as you feel comfortable with. And use common sense. For me personally I have a 4 hour rule. I might go more depending on what steep I left off on. It's all about the ick factor. Some people here leave them over night. Some say the boiling water disinfects anyway.

If you feel comfortable with it and they look ok, go for it. Otherwise toss them!

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Postby trent » Apr 13th, '08, 00:27

Personally, I brew all of my teas until they are flavorless, whether that takes a full day, or a full hour.

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Postby olivierco » Apr 13th, '08, 01:31

If you want to wait a long time between two steeps(let's say 5 hours or more), you shouldn't leave the leaves in the teapot (if it is earthenware) and you should make sure that there isn't no water left.

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Postby Beidao » Apr 13th, '08, 06:02

In a teashop I visited they told me that the leaves can be saved for a long time if you make sure that they go dry. I haven't tried it though. I use to save my wet leaves only for some hours. Earlier I could re-brew teas the next day but now I would never do that, due both to bacterias and the fact that it is tea abuse :wink:

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Postby Mary R » Apr 13th, '08, 11:48

"Can" and "should" are two different things. :)

I'm sort of a combination between Trent and Victoria in this practice...especially when it comes to oolongs. I'll often brew the same set of leaves all day until they become flavorless, but if there's a gap in time longer than 3-4 hours, I pitch the leaves. IMO, they tend to taste sort of flat and stewed after a prolonged gap.

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Postby Katrina » Apr 13th, '08, 12:14

Thank you everyone. This is really helpful info.

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Postby augie » Apr 13th, '08, 20:30

I stopped brewing tea the morning after when I came in to work on Monday and found some "home-made penacillin" in the bottom of my mug (fr Friday)! :shock: I usually start early at work and dump the leaves when I leave. Maybe 1-2 hr is the longest between brewing . . . When brewing at home "J" and I share, but if I do start late I dump whatever I started the night before.

This discussion has come up b/4 and there are a few who will rinse with brew temp water and start in the morning where they left off the night before.

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Postby tenuki » Apr 13th, '08, 22:01

I brew oolongs and pu that have been sitting in my gaiwan or YiXing up to 15 hours or so, often overnight. All the tea people I know do the same thing.

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Postby RussianSoul » Apr 13th, '08, 22:18

tenuki wrote:All the tea people I know do the same thing.

I don't know him :D, don't make this mistake please, but I often start in the morning from where I left my leaves last night. Especially for teas that can carry on for 3 - 4 infusions, and I only managed 1 or 2 the night before. No ill effects.

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Postby Chip » Apr 14th, '08, 15:51


I frequently have oolong in the afternoon, several steeps. Then I go onto something else, but save the leaves for the night time of low caffeine tea drinking salvation.

Some members keep them overnight...I just haven't done it because I drain all the flavor out of them in the evening/nightime. I don't know how I would feel about it anyway. New tea.

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Postby heatwaves » May 1st, '08, 20:07

The bacteria fear is overrated.

For many of my high-quality oolongs, I'll brew it one day, then leave it overnight in my yixing pot and brew it more the next day -- perhaps 36 hours in the pot. No ill effects. I simply make sure to put boiling water into the empty pot when it's done to "kill the little beasties", air dry and then repeat again the next day.

(Of course, I didn't use to have this arm growing out of my head either.)

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