We have broken down the details of brewing a fine cuppa with our post “Infusion Confusion” now, let’s put the record straight on ‘Multi Steeping’ your tea.
We are talking about loose leaf tea rather than tea bags designed for one use only. See “Think Out of the Bag” post. Depending on the type and quality of loose tea, you should expect to make several steeps or infusions.
Loose Leaf Tea
Follow your usual procedure to make the first cup of tea. If your preference is a strong tea, I suggest increasing the amount of tea rather than the time you allow the tea to infuse. Make only the amount you require or decant into another pot to preserve your leaves and stop them from over infusing or tasting astringent.
This is an important step. It’s not the fault of the leaves as they carry on doing what YOU put them there to do!
Add more water to start the second infusion, releasing another round of flavor. Allow more time; I usually double my original infusion time. You may enjoy this cup more than the first; it has a roundness or smoothness, most pleasing.
At Local Tea Company, we add the first and second infusion together, making what we believe is the perfect cuppa. We call this multifusion!
Go ahead and infuse your leaves once again. You can continue this process until the leaves offer you no more surprises. If you are infusing a rolled leaf, you will certainly be rewarded with many infusions, a cut leaf not so many. Our oolongs offer at least 4 steeps, and my personal favorite for beautiful multifusion flavors is Goji Green.
Multi-steeping is also one reason we love using tea makers with pressure release bottoms to brew loose leaf tea. The lid keeps the leaves moist and fresh if you are away from your tea-making duties. You can also place the tea maker in the refrigerator if not using till later in the day or even the next day.
Experiment, play around with each tea. After the first steep, you will notice it is hard to overstep the tea, and you should not experience any astringency. This is one of the reasons some people prefer the second or third steeps to the first. And remember, it is suggested that oolongs are washed, basically discarding the short first steep or rinse. If you read our “Oooolongs” post, you will note that I drink this batch and love it!!
Enjoy multi infusions as you drink loose leaf tea, and keep in mind the great value loose leaf tea offers long after a tea bag is discarded.
the tea lady
We love oolong teas and find the flavors so incredibly unique. They say no two oolongs are alike, which may be what we like best, always a surprise.
Oolong means “Black Dragon.” The Chinese tea growers thought Oolong tea’s complex character was similar to the spirit of this mythical creature.
The crafting of Oolong is an art form, and the growing areas are limited. Conditions have to be exact and great care is taken to maintain the tea plants’ surrounding environment. Like wine growing regions, the soil and humidity level definitely impact the finished product’s taste and complexity.
Oolongs are referred to as semi-fermented or semi-oxidized teas. (see earlier post on oxidation / fermentation) They follow a similar process to black tea but with up to 60% less oxidation. This results in tea with characteristics of both black and green tea. What does oolong tea taste like? Good question!
Fujian province in China is the home of Oolong varieties of tea. Still, production began in Taiwan during the 1850s when tea planters from Fujian immigrated to Formosa’s small island nation. The Dung Ti Mountains in central Taiwan have very fertile slopes where some of the finest tea plantations produce excellent Oolong tea. Both of our Oolong teas are from Taiwan.
Our Dung Ding Oolong is entirely hand made and has a stunning rolled leaf producing a smoother taste than black tea but not as grassy as green. The result is a very well balanced tea with an orchid-like aroma and taste.
Steep the leaves multiple times and give your taste buds an exciting journey along the way. Examine the leaves, and you will see the oxidation that has occurred around the outer part of the leaf, leaving the inside quite green. We highly recommend this tea, which is easy to drink. Don’t forget that Oolong teas are great for raising your metabolic rate.
Our Aronia Oolong produces quite a different taste profile. This is also a Taiwan Oolong, which is wiry and lively with much closer characteristics to black. Some Sri Lanka black tea adds depth along with chokeberries, mango, passion fruit, and rose petals for a delicate floral finish. As we like to say, this tea is easy to drink, hard to resist! And can be steeped multiple times, giving a lighter color and flavor each steep.
Brewing Oolong Tea
It is recommended to rinse or flush Oolong leaves; that is, pour water over leaves and immediately remove the hot water. We cannot bear to throw this lovely liquor away and usually add it to a later steep. Then start with a 1-2 minutes steep and add additional steeping time after each infusion.
When preparing Aronia Oolong, we actually brew as a black tea, using boiling water, steeping for 4 minutes, steeping a second time for 8 minutes, and combining the two steeps for a multi-fusion.
We use water around 194 degrees for Dung Ding Oolong, steep for 2 minutes, and drink! This is way too good to flush away, in our opinion. For the next step, add 2 minutes and continue adding the extra time until the entire flavor has been released.
As with all teas, there are personal preferences, so be playful and enjoy the process of discovering how you like your Oolong tea. Oh, and what does oolong tea taste like?
the tea lady
I like the way this sounds, so I am going to blab about brewing. So many visitors to the CarriageHouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens are confused about how to brew tea. I hope this helps with Infusion Confusion.
Let’s start with the Kettle, used only to heat water. There are some great models on the market which switch off when the boiling point is reached. There is even one with a thermometer to catch the water before the boiling point is reached. Great for making green or white tea.
A Teapot is a vessel in which the tea is made. You may brew directly in a cup or mug, but I love my teapots. I always warm the pot with boiling water before adding the tea. After I pour out the heating water, I add the tea to the wet pot. After a minute or so, I inhale deeply. As the leaves start to open, the aroma from these warm environs is fantastic and hints at the pleasure soon to come.
Use a teaspoon for each cup of tea you want to prepare. My mum used to say, “and one for the pot,” and my husband and I still always add an extra teaspoon of tea when we brew a pot. A teaspoon is different for each kind of tea, as teas come in many shapes and sizes. Not to fret; you will soon get accustomed to the amount of tea you prefer as you brew more tea. Experiment, though it is not an exact science, have fun.
Steep your tea for the recommended time. White and green teas are 2 to 3 minutes. Black tea is 4 to 6 minutes. Herbals and tisanes are 8 to 10 minutes. Above all, personal preference is the rule. While I use a timer in the tasting room to bring garden visitors the perfect taste, at home, I just look at the color of the liquor and guess!
Many teapots have Infusers, mesh baskets to hold the loose tea. Other pots have Strainers to keep the leaves in the pot and out of your cup. I like to let the leaves move around in the pot, and with glass pots, it can be quite a show.
Loose leaf tea holds a lot of flavors, and I always recommend multiple steeping. Add more boiling water to the leaves and double the steeping time. Your second cuppa will not be as strong as your first, but I cannot bear the thought of throwing away tea leaves with even a bit of flavor. If you don’t plan to drink multiple cups, put the teapot in your fridge, and enjoy the tea over ice.
This afternoon I am brewing my favorite Oolong and will infuse the leaves at least four times before the leaves are laid to rest in my garden, but that’s another posting.
Sit back and enjoy the perfect cup of tea. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination. I hope this helps.
The tea lady