Oct 31st, '10, 23:59
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Number of infusions? (various teas)

by John Daniels » Oct 31st, '10, 23:59

I am sort of new to the loose tea game, and I'm confused as to how many infusions can be expected from various teas. I have read that up to 4-6 infusions can be seen from some teas, yet a black chai blend I attempted to infuse twice resulted in inferior flavors compared to the first brew.

I drink all types of tea and I'd like to get the most of my money so any tips would be appreciated. For example, if certain teas require longer infusion times for the second infusion and up, I would like to be informed.

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Nov 1st, '10, 00:36
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Re: Number of infusions? (various teas)

by debunix » Nov 1st, '10, 00:36

The trick with multiple infusions is to enjoy the tea. If it seems like the tea is watery, infuse longer or stop infusing. If it seems like the tea is too strong, dilute it or do a shorter infusion.

When the result isn't enjoyable any more, stop infusing.

I can't really speak much to black teas, which are generally designed to give up their flavor faster with all of their cut and torn surface area, because I only drink a few types, and usually only do two infusions at most of them.

But most green teas I try for 4-8, and oolongs 6-12, and puerhs 8-20, generally brewing with a higher leaf to water ratio than for standard 'western style' infusions. A typical infusion series for an oolong tea might go 30", 45", 60", 90", 2 min, 2 min, 3 min.

Just remember that if you're still enjoying the later infusions, you're doing it right.

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Nov 1st, '10, 12:22
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Re: Number of infusions? (various teas)

by exquisite » Nov 1st, '10, 12:22

I lurked for some time around this type of subject, and have to say I don´t think you´ll find a clear answer for this. There are just too many elements in the equation of tea brewing to be able to answer this, and I already consider it as part of the beauty of the game. I mainly brew sencha and gyokuro and lately some oolongs. Depending on water temp and steep time I get 3 to 6 infusions, but this is also related to how much time I put in preparation techniques. The breakfast oolong gets me to 4,5 steeps easily, as I am using a gaiwan, pour hot water, drain and drink up to 5 times in a row 10 seconds first infusion to 60 for the last. The daytime sencha will get
me to max 3 infusions, while the evening/weekend gyokuro , when I really pay attention and have time will put out 4,5 infusions.

Again, its just a personal matter of style, you will be playing with temps and times until you get around a technique which satisfies your taste. After all, practice is what makes it worth, you´ll just know when "this last last one is mostly warm water , so I´ll use it to clean the kyusu"

You will always brew a last infusion, but it´s not mandatory to drink it. :lol:


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Nov 1st, '10, 13:20
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Re: Number of infusions? (various teas)

by entropyembrace » Nov 1st, '10, 13:20

It has a lot to do with what type of tea it is, what grade it is, how big are the leaves or leaf pieces, how are they rolled and what your leaf to water ratio is.

Type of tea...blacks and greens are usually less while puerh and oolong can keep releasing flavour through an astonishing number of infusions. Other types usually lay in between somewhere.

What grade it is...low grade tea doesn´t have the endurance of higher grade tea. Buying more expensive tea isn´t always more expensive in practice because you can generally get more infusions out of it. On the other hand really cheap tea you might only get 1 or 2 infusions from.

How big are the leaves or leaf pieces...If the tea´s been ground into a coarse powder by the machinery used in processing it´s going to release all it´s flavour in one infusion because of increased surface area contact with the water. Your chai mix probably had very small leaf pieces like this which is why you didn´t get much out of the 2nd infusion. On the other hand if you have fully intact leaves filling your pot you can expect to get many more infusions.

How they´re rolled...tiny leaf pieces don´t get rolled at all...but many whole leaf teas are rolled into strips or balls...the tighter they´ve been rolled the slower they will open and you can sometimes get a few extra infusions because of that.

The leaf to water ratio is really important too...the more weight of leaf you use per volume of water the more infusions you can expect to get. People who are brewing oolongs and getting 10+ infusions from them have their brewing vessel completely full of whole, wet leaves and the water just fills the gaps in between them. Don´t expect to get more than one infusion if you´re using a teaspoon of leaf (usually 3g or less) in a huge half litre pot.

So on one end there are people with tiny 60ml gaiwans packed with whole leaf, high grade oolongs that can get 20+ infusions. On the other there´s someone brewing low grade CTC black tea in a gigantic 4 cup teapot and only using a teaspoon of tea dust that will only get a single infusion. So there´s a lot of variation based on many variables but hopefully now you can know what the most important of those variables are. :)

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Nov 1st, '10, 15:22
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Re: Number of infusions? (various teas)

by TwoPynts » Nov 1st, '10, 15:22

entropyembrace wrote:It has a lot to do with what type of tea it is, what grade it is, how big are the leaves or leaf pieces, how are they rolled and what your leaf to water ratio is... ...So there´s a lot of variation based on many variables but hopefully now you can know what the most important of those variables are. :)
Very thorough, thanks!

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