Do you really like your second steep?
It all depends on the tea.
For Taiwanese High Mountain Oolongs, peak flavor is reached on the 3rd and 4th steeps as the leaves have had a chance to unfurl, revealing more surface area of the tea leaf to be exposed to the hot water. High Quality Taiwanese Oolongs can be resteeped countless times, with the flavor slightly changing after every resteep..
For Darjeelings, the best flavor is obtained on the first steep. Subsequent 2nd and 3rd steeps will provide a much weaker flavor and may seem flat compared to the depth of flavor on that first steep.
Wit me it depends on the tea, I love my oolongs which I can often steep 4-5 times before they begin to go blah (and they better at $8/50g >.>) but other teas I can steep once and they’re dead. I have made a 2 gallon pitcher of my favorite oolong off of one tea ball before, just immediately resteeping. If not steeping a pot immediately after the other I have noticed that storage in between steepings makes a huge difference as well. At this point I put my used leaves in a ziplock, suck out all the air (by rolling if I intent to share, but I normally grab fresh leaves for that) and then put them into the fridge and preserves flavor well for a few days. Also, adjusting the resteep temperatures and times help. You really just have to play with it!
I want to thank everyone for their contribution to this tread. You’ve all been very helpful. Since starting this tread I’ve experimented more with 2nd steeps taking your advice into account and with good results esp. with regards to the dragon well.
I often dump the first steeping down the drain. I like to get right to the second. It is said that royalty in China won’t drink the first steepings either. My friends do think I have blue blood.
I usually follow the traditional Chinese Gong Fu brewing method- good for at least 5 brews. My favorite is the second steep- rich flavor and ascending smell! After the 5 or 6 brews, save the tea leaves to a mug, and infuse for longer time. The leaves are still flavorful for another 4 infusion. Good quality of loose leaf teas can be brewed multiple times and still creates beautiful color of liquid and taste. I even leave the teas and brew to the next day! It is cost saving :)
Have you tried gong fu brewing methods? To me this method is far superior for oolongs and finer teas. I really only do western style brewing for flavored tea. Oolongs should steep 5+ times. Just a thought and something to add to your tea knowledge and experiment with.
Try using 6g/3tsp of tea for 4 oz of water. First awaken the tea by doing a quick rinse with your water (hot of course) for 2-3 seconds. Pour this into cup you drinking from and then discard it (or drink it). Then I tend to do 15 SECOND first infusions unless there is a shorter recommendation for first steep based on taster input – some teas have recommended FIVE second first infusions. Second steep is half the time of first infusion and then subsequent infusions increment based on time of first infusion. So 15, 7, 15, 30, etc. If an infusion becomes weaker than you’d prefer, increase the incrimenting time on subsequent infusions. I will say some prefer 30, 15, 30, 45..
This way you get the full flavor of the tea over multiple infusions and not it all crammed into one confusing cup.
If you don’t have a gaiwan or other tools you think may be necessary check out this video: http://verdanttea.com/tv/improvisational-gong-fu-tea/?utm_source=Verdant+Tea+Newsletter&utm_campaign=902a698449-Club_Status_and_ImprovGongfu2_22_2013&utm_medium=email
Actually check out the video either way.
Hope this was useful.
No I haven,‘t (yet). When I first started reading I worried about not having a gong fu set. Happy to see you thought of that too! Watched the video and will be trying this when I have a bit more time, although I must confess I’m not the most patient of people and like to multi-task just about everything… But who knows, it might be very good for me :-)
Gong fu definitely induces you to slow down and take time to enjoy the tea more. I think its well worth it and the tea tastes better and is more relaxing.
Agree gong fu brewing is best suitable for fine and premium teas. The traditional brewing way I learn in Taiwan in a certified professional tea tasting program can be found in this link. http://www.mantra-tea.com.tw/Brewing-Guide-Tea-Library/b/1976406031?ie=UTF8&title=Brewing+Guide
Many factors influence taste of teas. The most important is WATER. I found the same tea tastes different in various countries. Better use less hard water. Filtered water is the best. Hope you found your best way of brewing teas!
I think it depends on the tea. I drink a lot of flavored black teas and sometimes the flavoring is gone the second round. I would say especially chocolate is gone the second round. Sometimes, though, the second round is as robust as the first, or other flavors become more/ less dominant. I’ve been trying a lot of new teas lately, so I try the second steep just to see how well it does.
I completely agree with Tealizzy, it depends on the tea.
For the flavored teas, the flavors seem to diminish a lot after the first steep. But if they were high-quality teas to begin with, you still have a nice cup of tea on the second steeping. Just not so much of the added flavoring. I have found this true of blacks and greens, of everything as mild as jasmine teas, to as strongly flavored as chocolate mint.
Of the unflavored greens, whites, oolongs & pu-ers, the subsequent steeps are still very flavorful, but do change with each steep. We broke out some pu-er from Teavivre last Friday, and I think we could have gone through 5 or 6 steeps of that. But I have also had greens that were only good for about 2.
I always like to try for more steeps when getting to know a particular tea. You are not loosing anything if you do not like it, except a bit of hot water. You can always toss it if you do not like it.