Multiple Infusions: About Re-Steeping Tea

by Tony Gebely 15

re-steeping tea

Why re-steep? Why not? Re-steeping tea really brings out the value of a tea, you can get many servings of tea from just one serving of leaves. More bang for your buck, and you get to taste the tea as it develops from steep to steep.

Before you re-steep: If you are going to be re-steeping your tea, you don’t want to oversteep it. Re-steeping your tea means that you are going to be steeping the leaves multiple times which means that each time you steep it, you must remove the leaves from your tea and set them aside until you are ready to re-steep. If you are using a mesh strainer, take it out and sit it on a saucer or something. Using a gaiwan will alleviate this as gaiwans are built for resteeping – when using one, you just pour out all of the tea into a separate drinking vessel after each steep. Simply add water for the next steep.

How many times can you re-steep a tea? If you keep getting an enjoyable flavor out of the leaves, keep re-steeping. Everyone will have their own personal preference as to “how many times you can re-steep an anxi tieguanyin” etc.

How to re-steep tea? I usually increase the steeping time slightly with each subsequent steep. some people increase the temperature as well.

My experience: I’ve gotten some pu-erhs up to 15-20 steepings, its amazing. re-steeping justifies buying a more expensive full-leaf tea. If you aren’t doing it with a high quality, full-leaf tea, you are throwing money away and not experiencing the tea from steep to steep. I’ll add that there are generally 2 schools of thought for steep times… one school likes to steep longer and not as many times, the other school likes to steep shorter and many times. The first school is usually associated with larger steeping vessels like large teapots, etc. The second school is usually associated with yixing, gaiwans, and smaller vessels. Note: this is a generalization.

Note: this is GENERALLY for whole leaf tea, OR bagged tea only if the leaves inside are whole leaves. it is a matter of surface area – a finely chopped tea is going to have more surface area and the flavors will come out in fewer steeps, sometimes only 1. if the tea is whole leaves, the flavor will come out slowly with each subsequent steep.

Tony Gebely

Tony has been studying tea for over ten years and has traveled to many tea producing regions throughout Asia. His book, "Tea: A User's Guide" is available now.

Comments (15)

  1. One is warned not to steep tea too long because the result can be bitter. What I’ve never understood is why then the second and late infusions are not progressively more bitter. Perhaps I do not understand what causes the bitterness. Maybe someone can explain this to me.

  2. How do you feel about infusers? (I suppose this is more for iced or cooled tea drinkers.) I steep the first infusion, stop the brewing after the allotted time, and put the infuser in the fridge. When I pour some out, I replace with fresh, pure water. It’s obvious when it’s time to stop refreshing and brew new. I also have a time limit of one week for each “pot”. (Concern for mold and other impurities.)

  3. Maybe I’m doing something wrong but I’ve never found even the second resteeping of leaves to be nearly as good as the first. This goes double for many green teas like genmaicha.

  4. I find most Tiegunyin 铁观音 teas only begin opening up around the 3rd brew and keep putting out good tea another 3-4 brews (if you use an yixing pot, or a small taiwan). Pu-erhs likewise tend to open up over the first few brews, peak around 4, but then hold steady for another 8 or 9 brews. I’ve found very few green teas that handle more than 2-3 brews.
    One concern with multiple brews is caffeine. I’ve heard from several “tea masters” in China that caffeine releases slower than the alkaloids and flavour of a tea; so, if as you re-brew, you are getting a higher ratio of caffeine to flavour. I haven’t seen any scientific studies on this though.

  5. How would my general steeping standards change (both tea quantity and time) when preparing a larger quantity, say in a 40 oz teapot? I usually prepare a ~10 oz cup and, depending on the tea, usually require 1 1/2 tsp for 4-6 minutes but am able to get 2-3 different steeps from this. I will usually increase my steep times by 1 minute with each subsequent steep.
    Many thanks for your helpful insight.

  6. I’ve been looking for a good re-steeping info. Would you mind if I re-published this on my site (with your link)

    1. absolutely, just send me the link so i can see it! have a great day!

  7. How long can you wait before re-steeping? My stomach can only handle 1 cup of caffeine a day. I don’t know how to store the leaves after the 1st steeping for subsequent days so I end up throwing them out/composting. How can I fix this? Oh, and I don’t really care for the taste of the naturally non-caffeinated teas. So not an option to switch.

    1. it depends, but the tea will become as James Norwood Pratt says “a ghost of itself” the longer you wait. I would do longer steeps so you get a lot of flavor (still be careful not to over-steep it), if you still want to do many shorter steeps, you can drink the steeping that is your favorite right away (for tie guan yin oolong, I like #2 or #3) and put the rest in the refrigerator for iced tea the next day. The last resort would be to store the leaves in an airtight container in the refrigerator to re-steep them the next day – but the result will be less than enjoyable.

    2. As far as I know, after about 30 seconds of steeping, 95% of the caffeine is gone. You can ‘naturally decaffeinate’ your tea by steeping for 30 seconds, pouring it out and re-steeping – the flavor loss is not really noticeable – if any. I have done it before for a few weeks when I was doing the caffeine free thing, but I don’t any longer.


      1. Hi Ray, this — although published in many books is absolutely untrue. Several scientific studies have arisen since debunking this “tea myth” –here is an article about caffeine in tea:

        1. Great link Tony, thanks! I wish I had seen these a couple of years ago when I was trying the ‘decaf.’ I am glad there are people actually studying this. Sad that all the research I did had me believing a myth!


        2. Tony, thanks for posting the article. I want to be sure I am understanding it properly. If I make a cup of tea, let’s say oolong which has 50-60mg of caffeine, and steep for 2 minutes (34% caffeine removal), does that mean that in my first cup I will get 15-20 mg of caffeine). Then another 15-20 mg in my second steeping, etc, so that by the 4th steeping I am now drinking decaffeinated oolong? I’m not actually interested in making decaf oolong, but I do like to re-steep multiple times and am concerned about too much caffeine. I can easily be happy with 3-4 steepings of the same tea leaves.

      2. oh, yeah, forgot the point of your post. Always re-steep. if the second steep isn’t a strong enough taste for you, let is sit overnight – it will be!

        I have to try the massive pu-erh re-steep!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Bi-Monthly Tea Newsletter

Sign up and we'll send well-researched tea info straight to your inbox.