Many people believe that “rinsing” tea leaves prior to use is a good practice. Rinsing tea leaves is the practice of pouring hot water over the tea leaves, then immediately pouring out that water and adding more hot water to actually brew the rinsed tea leaves.
Some people rinse their tea leaves to reduce caffeine levels. Others rinse their tea leaves to improve taste and to allow breathing room for the tea leaves. Finally, some people rinse their tea leaves because they believe pesticides might have been used on the tea leaves, so they believe the rinsing removes possible pesticides as well as dirt or other debris.
Using water to rinse tea leaves to reduce caffeine in the tea is a widely accepted technique that removes most (not all) of the caffeine in your tea. Caffeine is more water-soluble than many of the other chemical components of tea leaves, so even a brief infusion in hot water can remove a remarkable amount of caffeine from the tea. To rinse your leaves for caffeine, the best technique is to boil filtered water, then steep the dried leaves in boiled water for approximately 20-30 seconds, then pour out the liquid and discard, keeping the wet leaves. Add water in the appropriate temperature for the leaves you are brewing, then prepare as you would normally.
Whether rinsing the leaves improves the flavor of the tea is a highly personal opinion, and a matter of personal preference. As for rinsing the tea leaves to remove pesticides or chemicals, if the tea is organic, this is completely unnecessary. Also, most reputable tea companies do not leave pesticides or debris on their tea leaves. However if it makes you feel better to rinse them first, there is no harm in the practice.
When brewing tea Gongfu style, the tea leaves are rinsed out of a customary tradition that is part of the actual tea ceremony, which is popular in China.
Overall, it is a personal choice to rinse or not rinse your tea leaves. There are some merits to the practice, however there is no danger in not rinsing your tea leaves, so the decision is entirely up to the tea drinker.
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