It has always been my goal to provide tea related information to new tea drinkers in an effort to reduce that all too familiar feeling of being overwhelmed. Although on the one hand, what could be simpler than a cup of tea. In reality, when we’re dealing with whole leaf teas especially, the information is confusing and often contradictory which seems to negatively impact those new to the tea journey.
This led me to generate my favorite tea equation years ago:
Most internet sites selling tea will offer a chart regarding temperature and steeping time. Just select any two sites however and you’ll see that both recommended temperatures for steeping and length of times for steeping vary considerably from one to the next. As one continues through your own unique tea journey, you will soon learn what times and temperatures you seem to prefer. The previously mentioned charts represent a good starting point.
When it comes to resteeping a cup or pot of tea, the information just isn’t available. I must admit to being shocked by this omission. I goggled “resteeping tea times” and “recommended resteeping times for tea” and was quite disappointed. Although many sites noted that their teas can be resteeped many times, some went on to provide a range of reasonable amounts of resteeping per type of tea but NONE told you how long to resteep. Even Wikopedia, my go to guru when all else fails mearly said that teas can be resteeped. I did discover 2BAsnob however, which was a new tea site for me to explore.
My next step was to contact a few tea experts and ask them about their personal ritual regarding resteeping of tea. Once again, I have to admit to being surprised. NO ONE timed their resteeping. I was however delighted to get some rather detailed explanations of how they resteeped, but the variations were quite startling. Some increased temperature, some increased time, some just let the leaves continually remain in hot water, aka asian methods of the masses. No one was able to provide any quick and dirty recommendations that I could offer to others.
Perhaps it would be best for me to take you through my journey and how I discovered a remarkably simple rule of thumb that can be used effortlessly and with excellent results. My very first formal training in brewing whole leaf tea was over 10 years ago while on my first trip to Southeast Asia. I was wondering around Singapore and saw a notice on a tea shop window about a tea class that happened to be starting in less an 15 minutes. I imagine it was just fated that I was there at that time. I”ll never forget the experience and my sense of wonder as I learned some of the secrets of the leaf. It was in fact the first time I’d ever even heard about resteeping tea, having been a tea bag drinker following a disaster with my first purchase of whole leaf tea in New York’s China town. Very simply, it was explained that one could resteep a cup or pot of tea by increasing the steeping time by 30 seconds for each subsequent steeping. So if the first brewing was for 2 minutes, you could brew the next pot/cup for 2 1/2 minutes and the next for 3 minutes. As they explained, eventually, depending upon the quality and type of tea used, one would end up with a pot/cup that had diminishing returns. This simple method of increasing steepings by 30 seconds has been one of the best pieces of tea advise that I’ve ever gotten. Yes, one can argue that it’s best to view the color of the liquor, or that each variatal would demand a different time. I’m not arguing with that philosophically. But in this busy world we live in, we don’t typically have the time to devote to such an examination. When I’m doing nothing but brewing a pot of tea, no distractions, no conversations, I don’t even need to time the brewing as I’ve developed a sense of it over these years. Here’s the frequent reality however. I start a small pot of tea for myself and then begin or complete another task. If I don’t time the steeping, 9 times out of 10, I’ve forgotten about my tea and it’s ruined by the time I remember to return to it. The same applies to my resteeping. At this point in my life, I almost always time it to insure the perfect tea for me.
I’d welcome hearing from others how they resteep. I stand by my system but am always eager to learn from others – keeping in mind the reality of a hectic lifestyle. I’m all for a future discussion of philosophical or ideal resteeping methods but I’m most interested in hearing how we can resteep in a practical way that fits with our multitasking lifestyle.