The Importance of Decanting Tea

Decanting TeaNewsflash: The best tea-timer in the world can’t prevent over-steeping so long as tea leaves remain in contact with the tea liquor. I’ve often seen individuals and tearooms infuse a pot of tea with great care, pour it into cups, and then leave the rest of the tea and tea leaves to continue steeping, growing more bitter and disagreeable by the second.

One way of avoiding this is to simply prepare tea in a teapot that holds the same or lesser amount of liquid as the mug or cup it is being poured into. The other way of keeping perfectly-steeped tea tasty is to pour it from one teapot to another, a process known as decanting. In fact, decanting actually has two purposes:

  • It stops the steeping/infusion process. Once the tea has been separated from the leaves it can no longer over-steep.
  • It mixes the most infused tea (that which is at the bottom of the pot, or closest to the infuser basket) with the least infused tea, resulting in a more balanced cup (i.e. one cup of tea won’t be weaker/stronger than another from the same steeping).

Decant Quickly
Tea must be decanted quickly, particularly if they are prone to bitterness, tend toward high astringency, or has strong floral notes (which easily become bitter and overpowering).

  1. A good steeping teapot will have a wide, well-designed spout that is not prone to clogging. The most precise timing of an infusion is useless if you have to add an extra 20-30 seconds to the decanting process because of a clogged spout.
  2. A long thin “pick” or stick can quickly unclog an uncooperative spout. Chinese tea tool sets will often include one of these picks. A chopstick or cooking skewer also works (avoid using metal picks/sticks as they are more likely to scratch the teapot).

Tea CozyTealights and Tea Cozies
Tealights and tea cozies have their place in keeping tea warm, but many people use them inappropriately: A pot containing tea leaves should never be covered with a cozy or placed over a tealight, as this “stews” the leaves and the remaining tea. Use cozies and tealights with decanted tea only.

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

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9 thoughts on “The Importance of Decanting Tea

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  4. Wendy

    I have a great teapot that have a steeper built in it. It is an insert that you fill with your tea and pour the hot water over it and pull it out when it is done. I just love it. I got it at a great price at Kitchen Collection store.

  5. I found a Tea Tumbler by Liquid Solutions at our local grocery store and it works amazingly well! I can brew loose leaf tea in it for either hot or cold tea and it is great for on the go. My daughter loves it so well she will be taking it for band camp this summer. We love the combination of white Rooibos and Herbal fruit combination with a few crystals of rock sugar poored over ice. A very refreshing summer drink that quenches your thurst in the hot summer days. We are hooked on it…Love it…a sensational beverage.

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  7. I thought everyone knew this! Nothing worse than over-steeped tea!

    I have a mesh-cup strainer in my tea pot that allows the leaves to flow freely, but once it’s done brewing I can pull it out so I don’t have to switch teapots.

    However, I have yet to find the perfect tea cozy – me being of the male persuasion, you have no idea how difficult it is to find a “macho” enough one. Then again, my guy friends don’t exactly come to tea…still.

    1. Hi Louie,

      You are right, it is a well known fact that over-steeped tea is absolutely dreadful tasting. It leaves your tastebuds in agony begging for a scone. In all seriousness, there is nothing better than the “perfect cup” of tea after a long day at work. As for your other comment….

      It made me smile, because I feel for men who enjoy cultural and social activities such as drinking tea. Unfortunately, the only tea cozies I have seen are designed to appeal to the female persuasion. The good news is I have an idea for you – design tea cozies that appeal to men. You would create quite the stir among tea connoisseurs everywhere! Thank you for the comment, Louie… sip a cup of tea for me.

      Krystal Lane

      1. Miss Moo

        I just made my first tea cozy by hand no less. It is double layered to keep the tea pot warm. I chose a less girly design so as to not cause a “stir” at work. Consider getting a pattern and trying your hand at it. It becomes a labor of love that you can knock out in one or two nights with a cuppa tea. Also I have learned from this blog why it is important not to “stew” your tea by putting a cozy on a pot that has tea leaves still in it. Bad girl, very bad girl.

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