Tea Time Again: Multiple Infusions

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.

Multiple InfusionsWhen 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:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gongfu_tea_ceremony

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.

8 thoughts on “Tea Time Again: Multiple Infusions

  1. I use one of the 16-ounce gravity infusers so I just leave them in there. I’ve never had any problem with that method though I probably wouldn’t reuse them after several hours.

    1. A.C. Cargill

      I steep in one pot and strain into another (since I use no teaball or infuser). The leaves can sit in the first teapot for a short while until I’m ready to do a second (or sometimes a third) steeping. 🙂

  2. Milena

    Maybe it’s a dumb question, but where do you put leaves after you steep them once? Do you dry them? Where do you keep them?

  3. Allison

    I’ve had better luck with stronger teas, particularly chais, when it comes to multiple infusions. The more delicate teas give me two infusions, and the third is too weak to enjoy.

    1. A.C. Cargill

      By “chai” here I am taking that you mean “spiced tea” (a common usage for this word in U.S. – “chai” actually means “tea”). The more delicate teas tend to be the better ones for multiple infusions for me, since spiced teas become bitter after the first infusion. A good quality oolong or even a white tea will get better with each infusion. Just my two cents worth here. Thanks for reading!

  4. Pingback: Review — Golden Moon Tippy Earl Grey « Tea Blog

  5. I find it tricky to develop any general rules as so many teas are so differnet. The steeping times varies so much too with so requiring a shorter time on second infusion and so requiring longer.

  6. I have never gone more then 5 times for the same batch of loose leaf. Personally I find that the flavor starts getting weak after the second infusion and by the third it is given its best to you. I have gone up to five infusions a few times though.

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