Brewing Loose Tea The Simple Leaf Way – The Art of The Infusion

24Aug06

Infusion, or steeping begins the moment the tea leaves make contact with the water. The length of time you need to infuse your tea depends on the type of tea. In general, because smaller leaves have a higher surface area, it infuses its flavor quicker, so the smaller the leaf, the faster the infusion time. These are general guidelines, so feel free to experiment. You’ll find your own infusion sweet-spot in no time.

  • Most small leaf black teas: 2-3 minutes (boiling water)
  • Most large leaf black teas: 3-5 minutes (boiling water)
  • Green teas: 2 minutes (cooler than boiling water)
  • White teas: 7 minutes (cooler than boiling water)

Once you’re done infusing, make sure you take the leaves out of the water before you pour into your cup. You can use an infuser for this, or try one of our handy t-sac tea sachets to get the job done without any mess.

Need some yummy recipes for iced tea? Look here.

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16 Responses to “Brewing Loose Tea The Simple Leaf Way – The Art of The Infusion”

  1. Hi,
    What about multiple infusions? More specifically, how many infusions can green tea normally go through? And for how long should you steep it the second, third, … time?
    (Just noticed your blog (through Fanpop) – like it a lot! Thank you.)

  2. Hello Stan,

    Great question, and one that I should have addressed in my post. Here are my thoughts (apologies in advance for the somewhat lengthy reply):

    “What about multiple infusions?”

    Stan – every tea is different, and I generally would not recommend infusing most black teas multiple times. There are a few larger leaf black teas that can stand up to 2 or 3 infusions. In general, it depends on the taste you are going for. Each infusion after the first one is going to taste a little different. My suggestion to you would be to experiment and see just how many infusions you can make without totally losing flavor.

    “How many infusions can green tea normally go through?”

    Again, there’s no scientific answer because every tea is different. Some can take up to 10 infusions, some only 2 or 3. One of the teas my company carries is a wonderful green from the Snowview estate in Darjeeling. I have found that it can handle about 3 infusions and after that it loses quite a bit of flavor. I would recommend following my advice above – you need to try it for yourself. But the golden rule is never to use boiling water with green tea.

    “How long should you steep it the second, third, … time?”

    For green and white teas, each infusion is going to require a slightly longer steeping time. If the directions on your package require an infusion time of 2 minutes, then increase it to 4 the second time around. Keep increasing infusion times by a couple of minutes every time you brew. But again, the key word is to experiment with what you like. Everyone has different taste buds.

    The most delightful thing about multiple infusions is that each one has something new in terms of flavor to offer.

    “Just noticed your blog (through Fanpop) – like it a lot! Thank you.”

    Why, thank you!

  3. Thank you for such an extensive answer.
    (BTW, Do you carry Dragonwell? Can’t find it in your for some reason.)

  4. Unfortunately, we do not carry Dragonwell. In fact, we’re currently focusing on teas from India and Nepal (because that’s what we know best – I actually spent a lot of my childhood in Darjeeling). We are interested in Chinese teas, but I need to learn a whole lot more about it before I feel comfortable selling it! The old adage “know your product” really holds true for us!

  5. 5 Briana

    When I was in India, one of my friends told me about a specific way some Indians brew their tea. I can’t remember all the details, but she said that the Indians put the leaves, cream, etc. all together before the water boils, and brew it all at once until it is done boiling. Have you heard of this technique, and if so, can you explain it a bit more? Thanks!

  6. Hi Briana,

    Thanks for the comment. Your friend is correct – many Indians do indeed brew their tea this way. I grew up drinking this stuff at my neighborhood tea shop. Did you get a chance to try this tea while in India? You can find this method in action at almost every local “chai” shop in cities, towns and villages across India.

    Of course everyone has their favorite “chaiwallas”, as the proprietors of the tea stands are called. And the best part is every chaiwalla worth his salt makes the tea a little differently, so it tastes slightly different depending on where you are. Some add spices such as cardamom, ginger or cloves, some don’t. Some use more tea, some less. Some use more milk, some less…you get the picture.

    Although there’s no “single” recipe, the basic principle involved is the same: Throw in a bunch of loose tea leaves (they generally use lower quality leaves for this, since they’re so much cheaper) to a pot of hot water and (typically) whole milk. Add spices (optional), and constantly stir. This gives the tea that thick frothy texture. Some people use more water and less milk…some use only milk.

    If you want to make it at home, here’s what I do:

    Heat 1 cup of water and 1 cup of whole milk (skim milk just doesnt taste right!). Add 2 teaspooons of loose tea (or teabags, if you must). Stir regularly and bring it gently to the boil.

    You can cool it down with some acrobatics like this, or just wait until it cools and serve. To sweeten, add sugar or honey. To thicken it a bit, you can even add condensed milk….rich, but yummy!

  7. 7 Briana

    Thanks a lot! I’ll definitely try that recipe. And to answer your question, I drank tea ALL THE TIME in India–I couldn’t get enough of it. But I didn’t get to drink it from side shops or anything–we’re told not to trust the street vendors, etc. :(. I regret not trying it. But before then, I had mainly only drunk green tea. India changed me for the better! I’m hooked on Assam, especially. AND I actually use cream and sugar every now and then. I miss India so much…can’t wait to go back :).

  8. Good thinking on not drinking the tea from street shops. While delicious, it’s just not worth getting sick.

    Where did you go in India? I hope you got to see Darjeeling. If not, then mark it down for your next trip!

    In the spirit of shameless promotion, here’s a recommendation. If you’re ever interested in a really good Assam, try Mountain Malt. It’s a rich Assam BPS (Broken Pekoe Souchong grade) tea from the Gingia Tea Estate in Assam.

  9. 9 Briana

    I went to Nagpur, Bangalore, and Jaipur. I went for a wedding in Nagpur, then visited Bangalore during New Year’s (crazy!!) and flew back up to Jaipur..my favorite part of the trip. I am planning on going back for a study abroad program (I’m majoring in Hindi and Urdu). My mom is starting a tea room, so we’re planning on going to Darjeeling and Assam. I can’t wait! It’ll be a couple of years, but still…a good excuse for a business trip! …And any more suggestions on tea are greatly appreciated! I looked at your teas online, and I was already considering buying the Mountain Malt. I love the strongest flavors :). Thanks!

  10. All great places. I have to say Jaipur is also one of my favorites.

    That’s great news about your mom starting a tea room. Always nice to hear about fellow tea entrepreneurs! You must let me know when it opens (and where). If she has any questions at all, or needs advice on sourcing tea, please do contact us.

    Re: Darjeeling – I spent every summer while I was growing up there, so it’s a second home for me.

    If you’re interested in strong flavors, you might also try Viva en Verde, a Dooars green tea. You mentioned you used to drink green tea, so this will be an excellent one to try. Quite different from other green teas out there.

  11. 11 Briana

    Thanks! You have a new customer, for sure. And you said you were in Darjeeling while you were growing there…growing up or growing tea?

  12. Growing up! Thanks for catching the typo.

    My family has a little cottage there and we used to spend the summers up in the hills. I took my wife there a few years ago on her first visit, and we have vowed to go back as often as we can.

    Now that I’m in the tea business, that should be a little easier!

  13. 13 Briana

    Hey, just wanted to let you know that I’m drinking the Mountain Malt right now, and it’s GREAT! Thanks 🙂

  14. Hello Briana,

    Great to hear!

    Would you mind posting your comments on this tea on the product review page?

    http://www.thesimpleleaf.com/ec/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=0&idproduct=35

    Thanks!

  15. 15 raghavendra

    Why the people are crazy but also deceived by adultered tea with even synthetic colours? Bkz most of the hotelereans serving colour mixed tea in wich we can miss a natural taste. In this scenario what is the role of rules ? And what will be the impact of such colours on consumers body?

  16. Hi All,

    I read a research paper where they were extracting EGCG from the green tea and found that the best method was to boil the tea in water for 45 minutes. This gave them the most EGCG. I wonder how it would taste. Anyway, since the EGCG and EGC etc are extracted by the heating , I wonder how we consolidate taste and maximimizing EGCG with a brewing time that does both taste and good EGCG extraction.


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