Rinsing tea and multiple infusions

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May 2nd, '07, 20:00
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Rinsing tea and multiple infusions

by tj-teadrinker » May 2nd, '07, 20:00

I've just begun to get into good tea (having previously just bought the stuff at the store). I like it a lot better, but now I'm getting more picky with how to make it. I recently learned that some people rinse their teas by pouring hot water on their tea for some time (for some people, 15-30 seconds, for others a full 3-5 minute infusion), pouring the water out, and infusing a second time.

From what I understand there are three reasons to do this: reduce caffeine if desired, allow the leaves to breathe and taste better, reduce pesticides and chemicals on the leaves.

This leads me to a few questions (sorry, I just have to know!):

1) How much time is needed to significantly reduce caffeine if I want to have tea late in the day? Some people say 30 seconds, but I read one website that claims only 9% of caffeine is lost in 30 seconds, and a full infusion is necessary first.

2) Has anyone quantified the loss of the *good* healthy things that would be lost? I'd imagine if caffeine is lost in the first infusion, many of the substances that make tea healthy would also be lost in the first infusion.

3) How many times can the tea be infused and still taste good? If the second infusion tastes good, could I drink tea from the first infusion, add hot water 30 minutes later and make a second infusion and drink that too and thus save my tea leaves?

Thanks for all of your help! Maybe this will help some other "newbies" like me too.

May 2nd, '07, 20:26
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by sygyzy » May 2nd, '07, 20:26

Hi and welcome.

1. I say brew for 30 seconds and discard. Even if there is variation, I think this is pretty much the rule of thumb. If you want to be absolutely sure, do a full infusion. However, if you are worried about caffeine, use my method - dark teas in the morning and lighter teas in the afternoon. [The discussion of whether all teas have the same caffeine since they are from the same plant is a different discussion]

2. I don't know the answer to this.

3. I think since lighter teas are so subtle, by the time you finish the 2nd infusion, you are basically left with subtly flavored hot water. I even tried multiple infusions with Golden Monkey (a dark tea) and the 2nd infusion was all I could bare.

Tea, even costly ones, cost (tens of) pennies a cup. I don't really understand the point of stretching it out. I do it once in a while when I am doing gong fu brewing (to taste the difference between infusions) but it gets old fast.

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May 2nd, '07, 20:39
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by guitarfreak2641 » May 2nd, '07, 20:39

As far as getting rid of caffeine I think 30 sec for most tea is good. With multiple infusions it depends on the tea, oolong teas usualy work well. I usualy get around three or four infusions before I stop, but with a good tea you might be able to get more. Its best not to let the leaves sit for too long or you will lose some flavor, and mold can grow after a while. I think a lot of the health benifiting things in the tea come out in the first infusion but im not 100% on that.

hope that helps

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May 2nd, '07, 20:50
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by scruffmcgruff » May 2nd, '07, 20:50

Au contraire sygyzy, depending on the tea you can get 7+ infusions that still have good flavor, just as strong as the first. It depends on a lot of factors (quality, brewing style, etc. etc.), obviously, so you might have to tweak your methods to get a good round of infusions.

As for how long you need to get the caffeine out... I have also heard 30 seconds, but I would imagine that long wiry leaves need less time than balled-up teas, so it's probably pretty variable. Just experiment during the day, and see how rinses of different lengths affect how much of a caffeine buzz you get.

9% or 60% removal doesn't matter if it only takes 30% of the normal caffeine content to keep you awake. Different people experience caffeine to different degrees, so this is even more reason to experiment.

May 3rd, '07, 12:20
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by tj-teadrinker » May 3rd, '07, 12:20

Thanks. I guess as far as taste, I'll just have to play around with it. Caffeine I'll have to play around with as well, probably more subjectively. Maybe if I ever have a slow day at work (which is unlikely!), I can bring some tea after various amounts of time with me and test it for Caffeine (I work in a Chemistry Lab).

I'm still a little concerned about losing the health benefits of tea by doing an initial 30 second rinse, especially as all of the compounds that offer health benefits in tea haven't even been identified. But, I suppose that in many of the places that tea is (e.g. Green tea in China), tea rinsing is also popular from what I understand-- so the studies looking at people who drink a lot of tea in China would be looking at people who rinse their teas.

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May 17th, '07, 11:36
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by jbenenson » May 17th, '07, 11:36

I rinse oolongs and "black" teas for several seconds to get rid of dust and to give the leaves a head start. The time is less than five seconds. After that I brew the liquor, about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes for oolongs and 3 to 4 minutes for blacks, always using water below boiling. (I pour the water into a measuring cup, then pour it onto the leaves.)

Even though the some of the theine (or caffeine) is rinsed away and multiple infusions reduce the theine each time, I still stick to reducing it by the type of tea. Blacks if a need a 'jolt', oolongs normally, and green teas later in the day or as a change from the darker teas. BTW, I never rinse green teas and brew them for about 2 minutes.

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Jul 6th, '07, 18:00
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by aqueoustransmegan » Jul 6th, '07, 18:00

1. I have heard of rinsing the tea to get rid of caffiene but I like caffiene so I don't do it regularly. When I have done it I usually just kind of rinse tea through my infuser [basket style] pouring a cup's worth of water very slowly and dunking it in the cup a few times. I don't know how I would do it with an ingenuitea :/ and I don't know how much caffiene it actually shaves off.

2. I don't know...but I'm sure not ALL the healthy properties go away and I bet rinsed regular tea is still a lot better for you than water or other beverage alternatives. I'm sure it doesn't magically become bad for you or anything :)

3. I am a HUGE cheapass...I will use the same tea all day sometimes...but it depends on the tea and how long I brew it. Of course the 4pm cup is WAY lighter than the 10am cup but it's still better than plain water or soda IMHO. Actually...on some teas I kinda like the second cup better [hello gennimacha! over here!] It just does not work at ALL with some teas, esp flavored teas, where the subsequent infusions taste like crap...but hey experiment and find out what you like best! I find though that I usually steep that second cup the same amount, not more. I've heard people say add a minute for each reuse but I think it just overbrews it. I also have heard don't let your tea dry. If you used tea leaves yesterday morning and they are dried out don't brew it again. I dunno why exactly....but to test it I left tea from the evening out and brewed the dry tea again and yeah...it didn't taste good...but I know a second infusion would've tasted okay normally.

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Jul 9th, '07, 01:09
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by augie » Jul 9th, '07, 01:09

aqueoustransmegan wrote: 3. I am a HUGE cheapass...I will use the same tea all day sometimes...but it depends on the tea and how long I brew it. Of course the 4pm cup is WAY lighter than the 10am cup but it's still better than plain water or soda IMHO. Actually...on some teas I kinda like the second cup better [hello gennimacha! over here!]
Cheapass, nothing, why throw away something that is perfectly good? My husband and I will alternate brewing the same tea from 6 p.m. until bedtime some nights. The smallest is starting to drink the subsequent infusions because they're less intense flavor now.

Nov 26th, '07, 14:19
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by Theo Sinensis » Nov 26th, '07, 14:19

I've been hesitant to do multiple infusions on anything except Pu-Erh, which you're supposed to use two or three times. Mainly because I'm developing my understanding of finer teas, and I haven't got the best sense of smell or taste.

But I am curious as to whether I'm just wasting money by throwing out leaves after the first infusion. I'd certainly love to stretch some of the higher priced teas I have if it wouldn't ruin the experience.

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Nov 26th, '07, 14:33
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by Wesli » Nov 26th, '07, 14:33

Just remember that black tea is only good for 1, sometimes 2, steeps.

I can get at least 2-3 steeps out of other teas, and more from pu-erh and oolong.

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Nov 26th, '07, 14:34
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by scruffmcgruff » Nov 26th, '07, 14:34

By all means, reinfuse! Don't be hesitant, there are no negatives to reinfusing. On the contrary, many of the finer teas become better in subsequent infusions. A lot of black teas may not hold up especially well to multiple infusions, but for other types (puerh and oolongs, especially, as well as greens and whites), reinfusing often brings out different aspects of the tea's flavor.

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Nov 26th, '07, 17:43
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by Wesli » Nov 26th, '07, 17:43

You'll even hear some of us crazy enthusiasts exclaiming our love of third steep sencha over first and second. :D

Nov 27th, '07, 11:13
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by teaviews » Nov 27th, '07, 11:13

Wow, I'm almost ashamed to admit I've never re-used tea leaves. Ever. But after reading some of the comments above I may very well give it a try!

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Nov 27th, '07, 23:20
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by skywarrior » Nov 27th, '07, 23:20

After reading all about how people do multiple infusions, I decided to try it. It has always been my experience that multiple infusions with a black tea in teabags usually equals a very weak tea with a watery flavor. But I forged ahead, not knowing if perhaps it might be just as good.

Ok, here's my experience:

A tea I really like that is flavored is chocolate tea. What I've actually found brings out the chocolate notes is overbrewing the tea and then pouring 2/3s cup and then adding boiling water to the tea. I can't say why that works, but I have an awesome cup every time I do this. This was discovered completely by accident.

However, let's say I steep the tea 4 -5 minutes and then go for a second infusion. It's ok. Nothing remarkable. Usually have to steep it 5-10 minutes. Third infusion doesn't impart anything interesting -- just watery tea.

I've found 2nd infusion of strong teas such as pumpkin tea to be very good.

I have not tried this with oolong or greens.

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Nov 28th, '07, 00:26
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by Space Samurai » Nov 28th, '07, 00:26

In my experience black tea is rearely suitable for mutliple infusions. Even high quality black tea always tastes like a weak imitation to me.

Greens, whites, oolong, and pu er, however, are very suitable. It seems to me that sencha needs a first infusion just to get good and warmed up.

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