The process of steeping tea follows the concept of some science basics (osmosis and diffusion). So when we place a tea bag in water, the water flows through the tea bag (osmosis) and the tea leaves dissolve through the water (diffusion). The water then flows back into the tea bag, in an effort to even up the concentration in and out of the bag. Below are some information for steeping the tea.
Steeping is not just about the time but it is also the temperature that matters. Different variety of teas prefer different temperatures and times to get the best taste and healthiest compounds.
1. Generally, 1 to 3 minutes is the ideal time for steeping a Black tea when boiled at temperatures of about 100ºC.
2. Similarly for a Green tea 1 to 2 minutes is considered an ideal time and it is most recommended to have the temperature in the range of 75-80ºC.
3. Another option for tea lovers is Oolong tea and tea experts suggest about 1 to 3 minutes for steeping and the temperature considered favorable is within the range between 85-90ºC.
4. Lastly, and probably the least common tea is White tea and it is considered to have an ideal brewing time of 1 to 2 minutes with temperatures between 65-70ºC.
Besides the timing and temperature, the steeping time also depends upon the type of tea. So, this is all about steeping of tea but what about re-steeping your tea?
Teas can be re-steeped since the flavors and aromas change and develop between steeps. This the reason for re-steeping your tea to get more flavor out of the tea leaves. Most of the teas can be re-steeped multiple times within a few hours of the initial infusion. It's a good practice to not let your tea sit for longer than 12 hours before re-steeping and it's considered better to have a shorter time between steeps - generally 1 to 3 hours. This answers the question that if I make tea in the morning, it is OK to use the same leaves that afternoon!
So, if you need to be away during brewing tea and re-steep after, we recommend you should not move the leaves to another pot since it eventually breaks and disturbs the leaves. Also, try to drain as much water out of the container as possible and put the tea in the fridge to slow down the speed of oxidation.
Of course, YOU are the one who can decide how many times you can steep up your tea. And the answer is simple - as long as the flavor and color are pleasant to you it's good to re-steep tea. Once the flavor becomes too mild for your taste and colors lighten, you should change to new leaves.