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Fat Guy

Using a tea bag twice

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I know there are many who believe that using tea bags at all is horrible, but assuming there is sufficient evidence for the existence of good tea bags what's the harm in using them twice? That has been the procedure around every household I've live in: save the bag in a little dish, add more hot water later.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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My sister and I do it. What I do NOT do is squeeze the life out of the bag and then save it. That technique intuitively seems wrong to me.

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Quality teas can give you multiple infusions. The question is does the tea in the tea bag of sufficient quality to get more than one infusion.

I don't use tea bags. I use loose tea. I never do multiple infusions. In some cases, I think I COULD, but it's just non conveneient. I make a pot of tea, drink it, and I am done for the day. I might not make another pot for a week.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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Most common tea bags contain black tea.

IMO, black teas give up most of their flavor (and caffeine) in a typical 3-5 minute steeping (oolongs and greens may not).

So I don't see the point in trying to re-steep a tea bag.

Even the more costly ones are not expensive.

And, loose tea is amost always better than that in bags - though less convenient.

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Hah--as I type this, I'm on my third cup of chamomile out of the same tea bag. I prefer the second & third cups, as they're a bit weaker and less 'weedy' tasting than the first. If you like the way the re-steeped tea tastes, who's to say it is wrong?

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Hah--as I type this, I'm on my third cup of chamomile out of the same tea bag. I prefer the second & third cups, as they're a bit weaker and less 'weedy' tasting than the first. If you like the way the re-steeped tea tastes, who's to say it is wrong?

Of course, it's a matter of taste - not right or wrong.

BTW, chamomile is an herbal infusion/tisane, not really a tea.

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I have to say, it would be pretty uncommon to do that here if making tea in a mug or cup. In fact, it would probably be considered pretty crass...

Tea for a few people brewed in a teapot with a few teabags is another story, although even then most people would probably throw in another (single) fresh teabag if making another pot.

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I might do it with green teabags, but never black tea or herbal teabags because it tastes like pond water to me the second go around (I like my teas strong). Exception might be for those whole leaf teabags, I might reuse them a second time.

My mom & sister save their teabags. They'll have a cup in the morning, then leave a sad soggy teabag on a plate and reuse it for another cup in the afternoon, at which point sad soggy bag has pretty much dried out.

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In the post about breakfast I listed some tea brands.

Bewley's says right on the package that you can get two cups from one tea bag.

I've found that most of the Republic of Tea tea bags can produce two cups of tea if the cups or mugs are "normal" size, i.e., up to 10 ounces.

My tea mug is a "jumbo" 15 ounces and I only use a teabag once, unless I am using two tea bags of two different blends, then I can get a second mug.

My formula for re-steeping is usually twice the time for the second cup.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Hmmm, interesting that Bewley's would say that, I have honestly never seen anyone in Ireland using a teabag twice. Granted, the recession may change all that...

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We have a Keurig single cup brewer, and I use one little tea K-cup again and again over the course of a couple of hours each morning. I wouldn't do that with coffee, but with tea it works fine.

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Depends on the tea, not the teabag: I've gotten several resteepings from a nice oolong tea that happened to be bagged, and some really nice sencha, but wouldn't push a cheap black tea....wouldn't steep a cheap black tea even once, actually.

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Assuming a quality tea, the main problem with resteeping is that there's barely enough tea in most teabags to properly brew a typical cup. Most teabags have at most about 2 grams of tea, which is probably fine for the 100-150ml size teacups of a Victorian past, but barely provides adequate results for the typical 12 ounce coffee mug.

The cheaper teas used in mass market teabags mask this effect a bit because they are usually broken leaves, which shortens the infusion time at the cost of flavor complexity thanks to the larger surface area.

As a result, if you're brewing in a mug, black teas on a second steeping will probably run a little astringent. Japanese green teas will usually be pretty weak and flavorless, because you'll need a much longer steeping time than you'd need with a proper amount of loose tea on the first infusion. Oolongs will probably not be at their best, either, though some oolongs hold up better to long, weak infusions than others.

One of the Japanese teas that I used to sell when I operated my small web store had the same quality tea in teabags as they used for loose leaf teas. I would frequently resteep teas that I brewed in a small Japanese teapot with a large amount of leaves, usually for two or three short infusions. However, the very same tea in 2 or 3 gram teabags would usually provide just enough flavor for a single, somewhat long steeping in one of my mugs, and infusing a second time was usually disappointing. Same tea, different quantity, and therefore different results.


Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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Wow that's a lot of good input there. Well for me, I don't normally use a teabag twice but when I do, I notice that the taste doesn't lessen that much. I think it also depends on what kind of tea are you using. And yeah, one tea bag is not that expensive I think to you use it twice.

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i am pretty sure most of the caffiene is released with the initial steeping. so subesequent uses may have very little caffiene, if that is an issue.

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My mother-in-law likes her tea very weak, and leaves a damp PG tips bag on the side of the sink. It drives me nuts. They cost about 2 p so why not live a little? (As soon as she turns her back to it, it goes in the bin (1-nil me-mother-in-law))

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I know there are many who believe that using tea bags at all is horrible, but assuming there is sufficient evidence for the existence of good tea bags what's the harm in using them twice? That has been the procedure around every household I've live in: save the bag in a little dish, add more hot water later.

No "harm" in brewing any tea bag twice (except that guests may think it's a bit unusual or that you're an unusually tight tightwad). If it's good for you, then it's good for you.

However, quality tea bags are not cheap. They have whole leaf tea of good quality in them - whole leaf that would be much cheaper per cup if you simply invest in an infuser insert for using with your cup or teapot, about $12 - 19. The tea leaf infuses better since it's not restricted in a tea bag; even a quality teabag restricts the leaf movement.

If the convenience is more important,then quality tea bags are better than your standard grocery store black tea bag. Of course. I have not used tea bags in many years (except at professional conferences where tepid water and dismal tea bags were the only offering), so others can tell you more from experience about multiple infusions with quality bags. Loose, I'll usually get 2 - 3 brewed in a Western teapot.

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At home I brew with loose tea, but I always have tea bags in my travel kit, along with a couple of plastic cups and a dual-voltage immersion heater, and have experimented a little with brands. Some of those in the amenities tray in hotels will barely make one cup; this is often true of teabags from the common less expensive grocery store brands or the typical brands served in restaurants. Lipton is usually good for a second cup, but I don't like the flavor as well as some other teas. The more upscale bags (either grocery store or restaurant) will often be good for a second cup (particularly if they're "English Breakfast" or similar).

My current favorite bag is Brooke Bond "Taj Mahal", which are full 2-gram bags of a fairly dark, flavorful tea. One of those will easily handle two cups, particularly if brewing with near-boiling water. And at 3.99 for 100 bags at a local Indian market, they're a winner on price.


Dick in Northbrook, IL

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For Mother's Day I was given a small basket of goodies, including a box of Lipton's Black Pearl tea.

It comes in a nifty pyramid-shaped "bag" and is definitely good for re-steeping.

It has an excellent "tea" flavor, nothing exotic but a clear, clean flavor and did not get bitter on the second steeping when I forgot and left it in the mug for 30 minutes or so - and reheated it in the microwave.

I think it is the first Lipton tea I have had in perhaps five years or so. I like it. It tastes good plain and even better with a small amount of sugar and a little milk.

In fact, it reminds me of the tea my grandmother prepared. Good memories!

Here's a bag prior to brewing:

Liptonblackpearl.JPG

And after brewing (once).

Liptonblack pearl.JPG


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Once I buy it, it's mine and I will do whatever I wish with it, :biggrin: brew it twice or more times, use it to take the sting out of an insect bite, relieve sunburn, or pulled apart and sprinkled on the compost heap.

If they didn't want me to re-use it, then they shouldn't have put the handy string on it. :laugh:


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I reuse Tetley Orange Pekoe bags two or three times with very little drop in flavor although the first cup has the best color. One bag makes a pot for four cups.

Remember poor old Donald Pleasence in The Great Escape? He reused those tea leaves for months.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I reuse Tetley Orange Pekoe bags two or three times with very little drop in flavor although the first cup has the best color. One bag makes a pot for four cups.

Remember poor old Donald Pleasence in The Great Escape? He reused those tea leaves for months.

Back in the old (and not so old) days people reused tea leaves as long as they could add some bit of flavor to the water.

Here in the U.S. we have mostly forgotten that in the UK the rationing that we had during WWII went on until almost the middle of the '50s. Those were tough times and people made do with what they had.

It wasn't that the stuff wasn't affordable, it simply wasn't available.

In earlier times it was the servants who were expected to re-use tea leaves and in the real early days there were more nefarious activities.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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