Aug 10th 15 6:38 pm
Posts: 225
Joined: Nov 25th 13 4:52 am

Why do some cultures steep black tea for only 1-2 minutes?

by ClarG » Aug 10th 15 6:38 pm

I have a friend that's Indian and when she makes black tea she steeps it for only 30 seconds, 1 minute or two minutes at the most, and she said how in India most people steep tea this way.

I also have green tea with cardamom from Pakistan and on the directions it says to steep it for 2 minutes only. I steep it for 3 minutes since at two minutes it's too weak for me and I can barely taste it.

User avatar
Aug 10th 15 7:53 pm
Posts: 594
Joined: Dec 13th 10 7:04 pm
Location: Seattle

Re: Why do some cultures steep black tea for only 1-2 minutes?

by hopeofdawn » Aug 10th 15 7:53 pm

How much leaf are they using? More leaves+less water=shorter brewing times, generally.

Aug 10th 15 8:07 pm
Posts: 17
Joined: Jul 9th 15 12:11 am

Re: Why do some cultures steep black tea for only 1-2 minutes?

by Nu2Tea » Aug 10th 15 8:07 pm

I suppose it all depends on what the drinker feels tastes right.

I'm pretty new to tea, and have been a black coffee drinker for many decades. So to me, a lot of teas when made by what the directions say, results in hot water, with no flavor. To me, you could almost save yourself a lot of effort and money, by just putting some hot water in a cup, and adding 1/4 of a drop of yellow food coloring, and basically have the same effect.

My palette is not refined enough to decipher all the delicate nuances. It's rusty water!. I'm looking for strong flavor, something substantial, especially first thing in the morning. Not delicate little suggestions, that you have to concentrate on, and then in the end it tastes like...... Water!

Again, I'm new to teas so maybe my tastes will change in time, but I've been trying a lot of the sampler packs, and the non black teas for me so far are not worth the trouble. I'll probably go through all the samplers to get an idea of what's what. But so far, I kind of think I need to double the amount of tea I need, and steep for at least 5 mins and stick with the black teas. The other teas have been far too weak and flavorless for me. Time will tell in the end.

So yea, I agree with you, the quick steeps give you plain water. But if people like rusty water, and think there's flavor in it, more power to you. Enjoy!

User avatar
Aug 11th 15 2:28 am
Posts: 322
Joined: Jul 11th 15 3:36 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: Why do some cultures steep black tea for only 1-2 minutes?

by Frisbeehead » Aug 11th 15 2:28 am

Nu2Tea wrote:I suppose it all depends on what the drinker feels tastes right.

I'm pretty new to tea, and have been a black coffee drinker for many decades. So to me, a lot of teas when made by what the directions say, results in hot water, with no flavor. To me, you could almost save yourself a lot of effort and money, by just putting some hot water in a cup, and adding 1/4 of a drop of yellow food coloring, and basically have the same effect.

My palette is not refined enough to decipher all the delicate nuances. It's rusty water!. I'm looking for strong flavor, something substantial, especially first thing in the morning. Not delicate little suggestions, that you have to concentrate on, and then in the end it tastes like...... Water!

Again, I'm new to teas so maybe my tastes will change in time, but I've been trying a lot of the sampler packs, and the non black teas for me so far are not worth the trouble. I'll probably go through all the samplers to get an idea of what's what. But so far, I kind of think I need to double the amount of tea I need, and steep for at least 5 mins and stick with the black teas. The other teas have been far too weak and flavorless for me. Time will tell in the end.

So yea, I agree with you, the quick steeps give you plain water. But if people like rusty water, and think there's flavor in it, more power to you. Enjoy!
If the tea tastes like water, it hasn't been brewed properly. Yes, some teas are delicate, but they should still have an apparent flavor profile.

If you are a coffee drinker, try sheng pu-erh. Pu-erh is sometimes called the "coffee lover's tea" due to its intense profile and robust flavor. I would give it a shot.

I think if you try some good tea and brew it properly you will be pleasantly surprised. Also, brewing instructions that come with teas written on the container/box aren't always right. Actually they are normally incorrect. There are many ways to brew tea, but there are certain ways that will give you the best flavor and minimal bitterness.

Aug 11th 15 2:48 am
Posts: 17
Joined: Jul 9th 15 12:11 am

Re: Why do some cultures steep black tea for only 1-2 minutes?

by Nu2Tea » Aug 11th 15 2:48 am

I have tried one pu erh so far, (pu erh hazelberry) and it wasn't what I'd like to drink. It was like drinking a moldy old basement. If most pu erh's are similar, they are not for me.

You are right, in that the teas didn't taste 'exactly' like water. They did have a profile to some extent, but it's so weak and subtle that to me it's almost water. For me, if I'm going to the effort to make tea, I want flavor. Otherwise, it's not worth it. I'd just have a bottle of water, and save myself the time and effort.

Aug 11th 15 9:42 am
Posts: 157
Joined: Jan 13th 13 4:46 pm

Re: Why do some cultures steep black tea for only 1-2 minutes?

by thirst » Aug 11th 15 9:42 am

I’d think it also depends on where the black tea is from and how cut down it is and whether you plan to put in things milk and sugar.

(If I steep an Assam for too long it becomes way too astringent for my taste unless I add milk and/or sugar whereas I can or have to steep my dianhong for longer.)

Aug 11th 15 4:46 pm
Posts: 17
Joined: Jul 9th 15 12:11 am

Re: Why do some cultures steep black tea for only 1-2 minutes?

by Nu2Tea » Aug 11th 15 4:46 pm

I started drinking coffee when I was pretty young, I remember drinking it in Gramer school. Back then I fixed it up its sugar and milk. I drank it that way for a long time. I eventually went to just straight strong black coffee. Nothing added to it, no cream no sugar, and most of all no artificial flavorings...... Yuck.

I'm now drinking my tea plain as well. I don't want to add any milk or sugar nor stuff like that to it either. For me, once you do that, its no longer the same. It's no longer tea or coffee, but a tea or coffee flavored product. When you order a coffee from Starbucks, and they put whipped cream, sprinkles, powdered sugar, and a half gallon of milk in it, it's a coffee flavored desert. It's not coffee. I think it'll be the same with tea.

User avatar
Aug 11th 15 5:03 pm
Posts: 117
Joined: May 26th 15 1:22 pm

Re: Why do some cultures steep black tea for only 1-2 minutes?

by Psyck » Aug 11th 15 5:03 pm

Very few Indians drink tea by steeping whole leaves (nearly all have it as chai with milk & sugar or by dipping teabags). It is quite possible that the person the OP mentioned as steeping black tea for 30 secs (western style likely & not gungfu) may have been doing it due to ignorance. In my lifetime of living in India, I have very rarely seen anyone have any form of tea other than chai or ready made teabags...

User avatar
Aug 12th 15 1:56 am
Posts: 322
Joined: Jul 11th 15 3:36 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: Why do some cultures steep black tea for only 1-2 minutes?

by Frisbeehead » Aug 12th 15 1:56 am

Nu2Tea wrote:I have tried one pu erh so far, (pu erh hazelberry) and it wasn't what I'd like to drink. It was like drinking a moldy old basement. If most pu erh's are similar, they are not for me.

You are right, in that the teas didn't taste 'exactly' like water. They did have a profile to some extent, but it's so weak and subtle that to me it's almost water. For me, if I'm going to the effort to make tea, I want flavor. Otherwise, it's not worth it. I'd just have a bottle of water, and save myself the time and effort.
Pu-erh varies widely in quality and type. There's raw pu-erh and ripe pu-erh, then it is divided into where it is from, aged/time aged, etc.

It may have been that you tried low quality pu-erh. Or maybe it was a decent sheng and you just don't like the flavor of sheng. That's fine, when I first tried sheng I wasn't a big fan either. I've grown to like it though.

I would give it another chance if you're looking for a flavorful new tea to try. Order some good quality shou (ripe) pu-erh from a reputable vendor and judge it based on that. I've tried many shous that are not all "musky basement".

Good luck!

Aug 12th 15 3:37 am
Posts: 17
Joined: Jul 9th 15 12:11 am

Re: Why do some cultures steep black tea for only 1-2 minutes?

by Nu2Tea » Aug 12th 15 3:37 am

Oh it's good to hear that they are not all moldy old basement like. I remember reading the description of its flavors and I thought it sounded nice. But I couldn't get past the moldy sensation. I got it from Adagio, it was in one of their black tea sampler packs. I think I'll probably go through all of the samplers to get an idea of what the different teas taste like.

I bought the ingenuitea and so far have been steeping as per their directions.

User avatar
Aug 12th 15 5:29 am
Posts: 322
Joined: Jul 11th 15 3:36 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: Why do some cultures steep black tea for only 1-2 minutes?

by Frisbeehead » Aug 12th 15 5:29 am

Nu2Tea wrote:Oh it's good to hear that they are not all moldy old basement like. I remember reading the description of its flavors and I thought it sounded nice. But I couldn't get past the moldy sensation. I got it from Adagio, it was in one of their black tea sampler packs. I think I'll probably go through all of the samplers to get an idea of what the different teas taste like.

I bought the ingenuitea and so far have been steeping as per their directions.
My advice if you want to try pu-erh:

I wouldn't get it from adagio. They are okay with other teas, but for pu-erh I would go to a vendor that it reputable for it. Crimson Lotus, Yunnan Sourcing, and White2Tea are good ones to start with. If you dig on this forum you'll find many more.

To brew it, I wouldn't use the ingenuitea. That product is fine for other teas that you will brew in larger quantities, but for pu-erh you want a gaiwan or something else similar.

Steeping instructions are typically moot. They are subjective, and usually aren't right. For pu-erh, I typically start with anywhere from 5 to 9 grams (depends on what pu-erh and vessel) then rinsing it with boiling water then steeping for 10 seconds. From there I adjust the timing to taste.

Hope this helps! If you want to try pu-erh get a gaiwan from any vendor really, they are pretty cheap. You can get them for anywhere from $10 and up. Yunnan Sourcing's US site has a few, JKTea has a bunch, and so on and so on. There's hundreds of shops that sell them. If you live in a big city, go to Chinatown and you may find one.

Aug 12th 15 11:20 am
Posts: 72
Joined: Mar 2nd 15 5:48 am

Re: Why do some cultures steep black tea for only 1-2 minutes?

by kiwi303 » Aug 12th 15 11:20 am

Most English style black teas are pretty finely chopped, more surface area = faster release of the flavours, especially those made up in teabags.



Rip open a teabag sometime, it's almost dust inside. even wetted out and expanded after brewing most teabag contents is only about 1 mm x 2 mm or so in size. Compare that to chinese greens made from whole leaves.



It's the difference between a fire of small kindling and a fire of decent splits of logs.

Aug 14th 15 3:44 pm
Posts: 225
Joined: Nov 25th 13 4:52 am

Re: Why do some cultures steep black tea for only 1-2 minutes?

by ClarG » Aug 14th 15 3:44 pm

Psyck wrote:Very few Indians drink tea by steeping whole leaves (nearly all have it as chai with milk & sugar or by dipping teabags). It is quite possible that the person the OP mentioned as steeping black tea for 30 secs (western style likely & not gungfu) may have been doing it due to ignorance. In my lifetime of living in India, I have very rarely seen anyone have any form of tea other than chai or ready made teabags...
Thank you for the reply, yes that's what my Indian friend does. She will dip teabags for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or two minutes, and then adds milk or cream; but she drinks tea out of either a large travel mug while traveling, or out small metal degree coffee cups, or a small ceramic mug when at home.

When she makes chai she mainly uses bags of it she buys at an Indian grocery store like Wagh Bakri brand masala chai that comes in a large box with lots of tea bags. She has loose tea but that's mainly for guests, family members that prefer loose tea, or I guess her children may sometimes drink it?

She and other Indian friends of hers prefer black tea. I once was around them drinking Japanese green tea and they said how to them it was very weak and akin to just hot water.

Aug 14th 15 4:08 pm
Posts: 17
Joined: Jul 9th 15 12:11 am

Re: Why do some cultures steep black tea for only 1-2 minutes?

by Nu2Tea » Aug 14th 15 4:08 pm

I have to agree about the non black teas. While they do have a subtle taste to me, it's so delicate that it's almost flavorless hot water. The weak taste is also not what I'd consider 'tea like'. It's either like some sort of odd grain or and odd diluted vegetable sensation.

Even with black tea, at 30 secs or 1 min, to me it's still too delicate. Maybe if you add a lot of other things to it, it makes a difference. But I dont add anything to tea or coffee. In my opinion once you add things to it, you're no longer drinking tea or coffee. The shear volume you add to it just dilutes the whole thing.

For example, when you order a coffee at Starbucks, and they add whipped cream, sprinkles, powdered sugar and cinnamon, and then a ton of milk, it's no longer coffee. The coffee is so diluted in the this big container, it's really just a coffee flavored desert. The same with tea, once you added all the sugar and milk and other things, it's no longer tea. Especially if you started out with some weak subtle suggestion of tea flavor to begin with.

Aug 14th 15 8:39 pm
Posts: 460
Joined: Feb 3rd 14 5:24 pm

by bonescwa » Aug 14th 15 8:39 pm

There is really strong tasting green and oolong tea, what are you guys talking about?