wombatgirl said

Washing or rinsing the tea leaves

The more I read, the more I learn. Since joining steepster, I’ve changed my storage habits, my brewing habits, and my drinking habits.

(I’ve also changed my spending habits, but we won’t talk about that now. blush)

So, lately one of the things I’ve been reading about is rinsing the tea leaves before brewing up the tea. I’ve seen anywhere from 1 to 5 seconds in length and cool and hot water.

Do y’all wash your tea leaves? If so, how? One particular way, or do you do it a variety of ways (maybe you wash your blacks one way and your oolongs another)? Why or why not?

Also, can you even wash some of the highly flavored ones? Wouldn’t that loose some of the added flavors?

35 Replies
Cofftea said

Excellent thread! When I 1st heard about rinsing leaves, I was absolutely shocked that anyone would even think of it. Wasting some of that delicious flavor seemed to be a sin to me. But then I got really into preparing tea properly and authentically after being introduced to Den’s Tea by Lena. Anyway, I started paying attention and people were talking about rinsing pu erh. Now I won’t get into it, but my 1st introduction to pu erh was not a pretty one. But after finding one I don’t only like, I adore, I’m trying again. I ordered the 2 pu erhs that Adagio carries that are cooked. Carolyn suggested ~15sec. For more on rinsing pu erhs, check out the pu erh threads- there are at least 2 of them here. My order is supposedly due to arrive tomorrow, so I’ll write a shortened version of my tasting note here so it can be w/ the rinsing info. While I’m not personally big on rinsing away some of the flavor, if that’s the authentic way to do it then that’s the way I’ll do it. My question is, are there other teas that are traditionally/authentically prepared w/ rinsing as a step?

And P.S. LOL on your “I’ve also changed my spending habits” comment. While mine haven’t changed too much- I’m definitely commiting the sin of coveting a lot more.:(

Ricky admin said

What!?? What happened to not having space in the cupboard =D

Cofftea said

Nothing. I told you I had an order coming. 4 small Adagio tins. I also discovered 2 empty ones that accidently stayed in my coupboard so it’s only like I’m adding 2. I’ll need to cram in my Den’s order, but it’ll work.

Ricky admin said

I know, I’m just trying to taunt you :)

I’m quickly finishing my tins! I should be good to place an order when February comes around.

Keemun said

…actually the Chinese are very particular about that and do wash/rinse all types of tea that get brewed in a tea pot. Especially important if the tea gets served to guests.
They take a handfull of leafs, drop them in the cold pot…rinse it with hot water for 10-15sec then fill the little tea cups with the water. The water the gets disposed. As a result of this they have warm tea cups, a warm tea pot and leafs free of fannings. The leafs already start very slightly to unfold and are ready for the second infusion…the real deal. Chinese love this ritual. What they love even more is having a crystal clear brew…
However, when leafs get dropped in a glass this custom suddenly vanishes…

I just recently joined and heard about rinsing, i have never heard that before! i am considering trying it, but only with a tea that is loose leaf (not full leaf bags) and i have more than 2 pots worth so i can try rinsed versus not rinsed

it seems like a waste to me for red teas and herbals, but i think i might try it on a black or green next weekend

Keemun said

…Chinese have a saying that the brew…well, the actual rinsed one, only would get served to enemies or people they hate as they assume it’s dirty water, a infusion made without attention and care…the second brew is for the friends to share with.
They also think that the bitterness gets a bit washed out of the tea…mmmh, not so sure about that. Anyways, please don’t expect to much regarding the change of taste…it will still be same tea.

Josiah said

I have a tasty oolong that definitely tastes different if I forget to rinse it. I haven’t noticed a difference if I use hot or cold water, and since the (cold) tap water at my house is better than most bottled waters, I just rinse the leaves under cold tap for a few seconds before steeping. The flavor if I forget to rinse is sharp and acrid, reminds me of drinking coffee made from very stale grounds (though is slightly more drinkable than that).

Miss Sweet said

I always rinse my oolongs, I think you get a nicer/smoother cup :)

Heyes said

I haven’t yet rinsed my teas, but I do wonder. Sometimes teas that I really like have a dry residue that gets deposited on my tongue during the last sip. Will rinsing affect that?

The Chinese I know never rinse green or black tea leaves. A friend of mine once started rinsing a green tea because there were “tiny hairs” in the water. This was soon stopped by his mom, because tiny hairs (or silver tips) mean good and young tea. Oolong, almost always (almost because some don’t rinse high grade Tie Guan Yin and Taiwain oolong). But for oolong, I would rather call it warm-up infusion, because I see the major purpose as to “wake up” the leaves. For well preserved oolong of recent a few years, I often drink the “rinse”, but it’s just me and most people don’t drink it. When I rinse a oolong, I pour in hot water, shake the pot briefly and drain it.

But for puerh, I usually rinse for at least 20 second (at the most 30-40second and twice), and never drink the rinse.

Cofftea said

That’s quite a long rinse. I go for 10-15. I can’t imagine how dark the rinse water for a cooked pu erh would be at 40 sec lol:)

Yeah if I rinse 40sec. twice, I really think the tea is quite “dirty” :P

~lauren. said

I hadn’t ever heard about the wash/rinse of loose tea leaves before – but it makes alot of sense to me … I have this Lapsang Souchong that on the first infusion is extremely harsh but the second infusion is the dreamiest smoothest smoky tea ever. I may just do a quick rinse first and see if that works out. I realize this isn’t about ‘waking up’ the leaves or cleaning up ‘dirty leaves’ , certainly nothing philosophical, but the taste of my tea may improve. The things I learn on this site — thanks!

Keemun said

Lapsang is quite a special tea…if one uses water at boiling point the astrigency of the tea’s first infusion leaves the drinker in a state of utter disappointment.
Try to use a lower water temperature for the first infusion…lets say 85 degrees Celsius/ 185 F…that will produce a smooth brew.
I would also suggest a shorter brewing time at first. 3.15-3.30 minutes perhaps.
The second brew can be done with very hot water and a longer infusion time…

~lauren. said

okay, will have to try it your way! I do like that second infusion — it was just the first that was so harsh ….

Rinsing does seem to make some teas taste much cleaner and smoother due to the dust(or fannings) being removed to a certain degree. It had an almost dramatic effect on my Young Hyson tea.

Jackie said

I have never heard of rinsing tea before. I think it would be an interesting experience, see how it would compare to the experience that I currently have while drinking my teas. Rinsing oolong sounds like it makes the most sense like Gingko said, it could be a warm-up infusion. Thanks for bringing up the topic!

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