Washing or rinsing the tea leaves

38 Replies
Lynxiebrat said

Hmmm, I will have to try that on the Lapsang Souchong sample I got from Teavivre, I might like it better, I hope!

I think you will! I always do a quick rinse of my Lapsang Souchong and I have gotten to the point where I actually enjoy this tea now. I couldn’t even bear to bring the cup to my mouth because my nose would reject the tea before I could take a sip. Now, I can not just drink it, but actually ENJOY it.

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Excelsior said

I always rinse my Taiwanese Oolongs. After rinsing for 15-20 seconds, the tea leaves start to unfurl so I get a richer, fuller taste on my first steep.

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I always rinse in my gaiwan with the same temp water that I use to brew the tea and just immediately pour off the water

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Sarah select said

Although I haven’t rinsed tea leaves before, I’m going to give it a try and see how it alters the taste. Recently I read an article that stated that rinsing tea leaves removes some of the caffeine content. I’m not sure if that’s an urban myth or not, but it’s an interesting thought.

I am fairly certain it is a myth. There are some people that swear by this decaffeination method … even some companies post on their websites the way to make caffeinated teas decaffeinated easily. But I have also read that while some caffeine is lost with a 30 – 45 second preliminary rinse, not all or even most of the caffeine is washed away using this method. I don’t know for sure, one way or the other, but, I don’t think that this method holds much merit.

Not even 10% of the caffeine is extracted with a 30 second rinse. Not to mention that with large leaf teas, most of the surface area has yet to be exposed to water with just a rinse.

Here’s a detailed article:

And here’s a more concise article:

Thank you @Mercuryhime … I knew somebody out there had the articles handy! :)

Sarah select said

Thanks for the article links! It’s good to know fact from fiction. I figured decaffeinating teas through a quick rinse sounded too good to be true.

Definitely! I remember I drank a whole big pot of white tea in a matter of 3 hours believing in the white tea=almost no caffeine myth… Let’s just say I learned my lesson! I wish I had read these articles from the beginning. :)

Sarah select said

I did the exact same thing with a pot of white tea. Thankfully it was late morning/early afternoon. I was zipping around for the rest of the day – hilarious!

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I rinse most of my Oolong teas (unless they’re a flavored Oolong that I choose to brew in my Breville, and then I do not rinse), and I rinse my pu-erh, and Lapsang Souchong. The rinse definitely helps reduce the amount of earthy flavors that penetrate a cup of Pu-erh, and makes it drinkable for me. The same is true of the smoky essence of a Lapsang Souchong. I also find that the flavor improves overall with the Oolong teas when I reawaken the leaves.

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brumanchu said

Hi all,

The logic I have heard goes something like this – We wash our fruits and vegetables before we eat them, and we wouldn’t drink the wash water. It would seem to me that a wash would be important, as the teas travel huge distances and are touched by many elements before they make it to our teapot. Any thoughts?

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I imagine that fruit wash water would only we detrimental if you think that the fruit or it’s handlers are REALLY REALLY bad at washing their hands or you’re extremely germaphobic. Most fruits and veggies get quick rinses or at least gamma irradiation before they get distributed. This helps keep the fruit and veggies stable (less ripe) longer as they have to get shipped out to supermarkets and such before they’re bought by the consumer, because it also kills alot bacteria and bugs. Compare the decay rate of supermarket fruit and untreated backyard fruit at room temp and you’ll see the difference. (organic or not doesn’t make a difference unless you’re buying from a farmer’s market.) (disclaimer: I don’t recommend not washing your fruits and veggies though, they still have dirt on them. Look up food irradiation if you want to learn more about it. I learned about it in a microbiology course.)

Tea doesn’t get the same treatment as fruit does (usually) and still manages to keep a much longer shelf life as long as it doesn’t get wet. Rinses seem to be personal preference. I don’t know enough yet about the processing of tea to make an educated guess about why, but I’ve never worried about it.

Personally I don’t mind not rinsing my personal tea, but I mostly drink greens. I wouldn’t serve my relatives black tea without first rinsing it, just on habit- and not really for ‘dirt’ as much as taste. It seems from this thread that rinsing is more likely with black, pu erhs, and oolongs.

Question is, do you rinse flavored, blended, or herbal teas? I’m venturing into that territory and would really appreciate the feedback.

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This is interesting, I’m going to try rinsing tonight. The infuser in my new teapot has been slacking, so this should be helpful.

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This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately; nice to see a discussion about it here – the only English website I’ve found discussing it in detail! There is another thread on steepster talking about it as well; maybe the two can be merged.
I tend to rinse Chinese teas, but I don’t rinse teas from other countries. I guess it’s a “when in Rome do as the Romans do” kind of thing. There are many Chinese websites and blogs that have information about rinsing tea leaves before steeping them. I found a short blog post about the topic and translated it. If you’re interested in reading it, you can find it here: http://translatingtea.com/2014/08/02/to-%E6%B4%97-or-not-to-%E6%B4%97/

Lion select said

Hello there. I have started another recent post about this very topic if you are interested in reading what I and others have to say and discussing it further with us.

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Teasenz said

There’s a difference between rinsing and ‘awakening’ teas. The first emphasizes the fact that you need to clear your tea from impurities, while the second their focuses on an improved brew. Here’s some more information:

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