The details may vary, but the basics of making tea consist of heating water, pouring it over a tea bag or loose leaves and steeping for a specified amount of time. When it’s time for another cup of tea, most people repeat the process with another tea bag or more loose-leaf tea.
But some varieties of tea can be used for multiple infusions, which makes for a more economical experience and adds a new dimension to the tea’s flavor profile. Though some premium tea seems expensive, depending on the tea you might be able to get up to 200 cups from a pound of leaves. If you steep each batch of leaves several times the overall cost is considerably lower.
When making multiple infusions, loose tea leaves usually give better results, with large-leaved varieties even more so. Water temperature and steeping time may be increased slightly with each additional infusion. Just to be safe, it’s probably best not to let wet leaves sit for more than a few hours at a time.
The gongfu style of tea preparation, which originated in China, often makes use of multiple infusions. Of course, there’s a lot more to this type of tea prep than just resteeping the leaves. For pointers on gongfu preparation, check out:
The best method for multiple infusions is to use trial and error to devise a method that works best for you. Black tea tends to be less likely to give good results when it comes to multiple infusions. But while there are some people who might not like a green, white, puerh or oolong tea that’s been steeped more than two times there are also those who redo their tea until they’ve wrung out every last drop of flavor. There are even some tea drinkers who claim to go through as many as 15 to 20 infusions of the same leaves.