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Letting tea leaves sit out between infusions

Whenever I have a tea that can steep 5+ times, I normally just sit the tea leaves out in the strainer until the next time I can use it (I don’t expect to sit down and in one sitting go through 5+ pots of tea). Is there any better way to store the leaves between infusions?

9 Replies

I’ve been wondering about this too. I generally only want to have one cup of a particular tea before moving on to the next one in a sitting, so by the time I get around to the thought of resteeping, the leaves have been sitting out quite a while.

This is why I never end up doing re-steeps – by the time I remember to, I’m worried that the leaves might be tainted by mould or bacteria. Do most people just leave em out on the counter, or would they be better in the fridge? How long is too long? Great thread idea, I’ll be lurking to see the responses :D

Mold generally takes 12 hours to even begin germinating and it requires moisture as well as heat. I feel like theoretically, rinsing the tea leaves off with cold water would offset mold growth

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If it’s going to be a while until you resteep the leaves, put them in the fridge. They can last 1-2 days that way.

cuppaT said

That’s good to know. I usually court death and just leave the mess in my infuser on the kitchen counter overnight — or sometimes longer.

I won’t leave mine out on the counter more than a few hours. If I know I’m not going to be resteeping in a while I will put them in the fridge and they last much longer.

If you put them in the fridge, should you run the leaves through hot water again before steeping so they don’t cool the water down too much?

Usually I just let them sit out on the counter while I get the kettle ready and boil the water to let the leaves temperature come to room temp. I drink mostly green tea, so for puerhs, dark oolongs or black teas you might want to warm up the leaves but I’ve never tried it.

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Why not brew several pots and store the tea in tight lidded containers and then when you want some tea just reheat on the stove top on low.

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I was once told to treat tea leave just like cooked vegetables. If you plan on steeping the following day put them in the fridge. If your going to be steeping over the course of a few hours then I would just cover them in whatever vessel is being used. This in particular applies to Pu-erh.

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