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Tea bag or hot water. Which first?

I’ve read an article that says that the proper way to prepare tea using tea bags is to pour the hot water in the cup first and then put the tea bag in so that it is leaning towards an edge of the cup. The reason behind this is becaue when you pour hot water directly on the tea bag, the tea will get more bitter and astringent because of the downward force of the water and also hot air will get in the tea bag which will cause the tea bag to rise up and therefore not steep properly. So what do you think?

10 Replies
Cofftea said

On the rare occasion I drink bagged (either prepackaged or my own) I do bag then water (unless the water is prepoured for me) to reduce the risk of splashing or bubbling (not sure why, but it seems the hotter the water, the more the water bubbles when the bag is put in). I also find it floats less this way.

That’s interesting, I find the bag floats less when I put it in after the water.

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I put the bag in the water if I need to let the water cool because the tea is of a type that takes a lower temp. If the tea takes boiling or just off boiling, I put the bag in first.

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Samantha said

I usually put the bag in before the water. I was taught to do it that way….but it does rise to the very top.

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The tea bag needs to be in first otherwise it doesn’t diffuse properly… there is a cafe near me that gives me them separately as to look posh, and it irritates the hell out of me!

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Meghann M said

If I use bag, its bag then water, just like with loose leaf it’s tea leaves then water.

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I usually put the bag in before the water, I don’t know why, that is just how I’ve always done it.

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ceremus said

To get a good extraction from the tea, you generally want to maintain a constant ideal temperature for the duration of the steeping. Usually for black teas, this means a steeping for about five minutes in 195F water. Pots are better than cups for this because they let less heat escape, but whether you’re pouring water into a pot or into your cup, if either one of them haven’t been warmed then you’ve effectively lowered your brewing temperature, thus lowered the quality of your extraction. Generally what you want to do is bring your water to a boil (if 195F happens to be boiling for your altitude) and pour it in your pot or mug. This is referred to as “scalding the pot”, and it will drastically help you maintain a proper steeping temp. After warming your brewing vessel, you can discard this water or return it to the kettle, either is fine, then bring your water back up to temperature. After this has been done, I always pour the hot water directly over the tea leaves, loose or in a bag or whatever.

If your tea is getting too bitter or too astringent then you’re likely steeping the tea for too long, or your water was too hot to begin with (the latter is especially true for green and white teas). That would have nothing to do with pouring hot water directly over the tea. People have been doing it that way for centuries.

That’s some good information. I didn’t find any credits to the information I read in the article so it could have been that this was just a personal belief of the writer.

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teabag, then water, then a lid (or the saucer)
unless it needs cooler water, then water, wait, teabag, saucer

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