Do you rinse your tea?
Rinsing seems like a good practice especially if you know the tea isn’t organic. One thing to consider also is that tea production area’s tend to be very dusty. On the other hand if your drinking certain flavored teas, you might just rinse the flavor out of it. – lol
For me, the rinse is important, particularly with teas that demand higher temperature water. I understand about washing away dust and priming the leaves, no doubt, but a big part of what the rinse does is prime the brewing vessel itself, raising it’s temperature so that the water is not cooled immediately upon being poured.
A round of tea for all my friends!
In the Chinese brewing style, it seems that rinsing the tea become a necessary step. We usually see that lots of the tea lovers will rinse the tea before brewing, so do I.
The purpose to rinse the tea is to remove the impurities which contain in teas. However, the more important thing is to wake up the tea, to make the tea leaves unfold as well as make the active ingredients contain in the tea can be easily to dip out, this is the fundamental purpose of rinsing tea.
When rinsing the tea, we should pay attention to two things:
1: Do not rinse the tea for a long time. Because the first brewed tea contain more active ingredients, which are not only beneficial to human’s health, but also taste good. Therefore, the first brewing, also means rinsing tea, the liquor should be poured out in 3 second. If the time lasts too long, the active ingredients in the tea will be lost in large amount.
2: As for the high quality green teas, the rinsing temperature should not to be too high. High quality green teas are usually made with the young buds which picked in early spring, if the temperature is too high, we can’t get the purpose of rinsing tea, and the active ingredients will be loss too. Even, it will affect the quality of brewed tea taste.
In addition, tea, such as Longjing, white tea in china, there is no need to rinse for its comparative tender leaves. However, the Oolong tea and pu-erh tea must be rinsed before brewing.
Short answer: No, I don’t rinse.
Long, rambling, pedantic, I like to hear myself talk answer:
I just recently discovered that there are two different methods that are both referred to as “rinsing” and I agree with the one much more than the other, but personally I don’t do either one.
I believe when most Westerners talk about “rinsing” tea, they mean pouring hot water onto it, and then pouring it back out again, as if they’d made tea, but discarding rather than drinking the result. I, as a matter of personal opinion, think this is a very silly thing to do if you do it for “practical” reasons (removing unwanted matter from the tea) because from a physics and chemistry perspective it simply isn’t going to do what you think it is doing.
On the other hand, I just became aware of “xuán hú gāo chōng” which is one of the stages in a formal gongfu tea ceremony. In this kind of “rinsing” rather than filling the pot and then pouring it out, you fill the pot to overflowing. This may have several practical benefits aside from the meta-physical meanings which Geoffrey mentioned. First, it will help heat the pot itself very thoroughly. Second, if you’re using a yixing pot, this kind of act will help season the pot both inside and out, over time. Thirdly, this may actually evacuate debris from the pot, unlike pouring it out.
Personally, I am very skeptical that fine quality teas actually have any debris worth worrying about. But then, I grew up in New Jersey in the 1980’s within bike riding distance of several Super Fund sites, so I tend not to be all that worried about “toxins” or any of the other stuff that health minded people are obsessed with these days. If foreign particulates are going to be the cause of my death, they got into my body long before the age of 20 and there’s nothing I can do about them now. A little dust in my tea isn’t going to matter one way or the other ;-)
Random check-up… 3 years later. Do you still not rinse? I’ve been really interested in this topic lately and so far with my experiments I fall on the side of not rinsing tea as well, other than Puer, but I find that is sort of the minority way of doing things in the Gongfu style. Just curious if anything has changed for you in that regard.
Mostly only for pu-erhs. Though really good aged sheng pu-erhs I don’t.
I never, ever rinse high-quality oolongs though. You miss out on the natural sugars that the oolong leaves release upon impact with hot water.
I know it is 3 years later, but I am so glad you posted this comment. I have had a lot of internal debate over whether to rinse teas, and comments like yours seem to be in the minority, but they help me feel more confident in my choice. I’ve done a lot of testing and have concluded that it is only beneficial for Puer. All the hype about rinsing oolongs, particularly rolled ones, makes no sense to me, and your reason is the exact reason I have for not doing it. A high amount of the sugars in a tea will dissolve in the first rinse/infusion and you are missing out on those flavors if you pour it out.
I get the idea that if you open up the leaves a little you can prepare them for a more full-flavored first brew, but if you ask me you get the same effect by just leaving the leaves in there a little longer instead of rinsing, plus you get the added benefit of the sugars and other nutrients you didn’t rinse off.
I am just not a big fan of rinsing oolongs. I have tried it both ways and I am really really wowed by some of the flavors I can get on the first infusion if I don’t rinse it, which aren’t there at all if I do. To me, Gongfu is about exploring a tea in its full arc of flavor throughout the infusions, so rinsing and discarding some seems like you are not exploring the front end of the flavors.