When and How Much to Reuse Loose Leaf Tea – of all Varieties


Tea Chat, Tea Guides /

My friend arrived for a visit just as I was sipping my way through the last few ounces of loose leaf tea. All that came to mind was “how do I make tea for them?” Have you ever experienced something similar?

The only thing I guess to do in situations like this is if I could reuse the strained Loose Leaf Tea just one more time. So let’s find out how many times I could.

Can You Reuse Loose Leaf Tea? Yes, loose leaf tea can be reused. On average, any tea leaf, including black tea can be reused once or many times, after its first brew. The number of times loose leaf tea can be reused and its steeping time varies according to variety, type, size, oxidation, and processing. Let’s explore further.

Let me explain in more detail what I mean by those terms, but here’s the quick list again.

  • The variety of tea leaves used
  • Nature of the tea (Fine/Coarse)
  • Size and shape of tea leaves
  • Oxidation levels
  • Based on roasted or non-roasted leaves

However, the significant features of tea changes when reused more than the recommended number of times. It is also never highly recommended to reuse any tea the following day or few days past its first brew.

Tea is an evergreen topic because of its endless varieties ranging from green, black, herbal to more that is still growing. And so, several questions might be popping in your head about different varieties of loose leaf tea and their re-usability. So let me just get right into it and clear all your doubts and confusions.

How Many Times Can You Reuse Loose Tea Leaves?

On average, widely consumed black loose leaf tea can be reused or re-steeped three to four times, after its first brew. The recommended steeping time for reusing black loose leaf tea is 6-8 minutes. The time increases by 2-3 minutes along with the number of times reused.

But, as I said above the ability to reuse depends on many factors, including the variety of tea leaves. So to make it easy, I’ve described below the relationship between some of these factors and the number of times loose tea leaves (any variety) can be reused.

Nature/size of loose tea leaves – Coarse loose tea leaves with large leaf particles can be reused many times over finer loose tea leaves. The same goes with sizes of loose tea leaves. The ability to reuse thicker loose tea leaves is greater than thinner loose tea leaves.

Shapes of loose tea leaves – The ability to reuse wound, twisted or balled up loose tea leaves are more over normal, lean tea leaves. In fact, tea leaves with such shapes taste better than its first brew when reused. Because when reused or the second and following steeping gives more time for the leaves to unfurl from its shapes. Thereby helps to release more of their flavor than it did for the first brew.

Oxidation levels – The ability to reuse tea leaves that are more oxidized like black tea are more than less oxidized tea leaves such as oolong.

Roasted/Non-Roasted – Roasted tea leaves hold up its features for multiple numbers of steeping or reuse over non-roasted tea leaves

Quality of the loose tea leaves – Quality loose tea leaves can be reused many times with the same significant features as your first brew. By contrast, low-quality loose tea leaves cannot maintain its best features when reused.

reusing loos leaf tea depends on a number of factors
reusing loos leaf tea depends on a number of factors

What Changes When You Reuse Loose Leaf Tea?

Nothing really. For obvious reasons when you start to compare the taste, color, and aroma of every sip with your first brew, you would feel and sense subtle changes in aroma and taste and these can add to the overall tea drinking experience.

But in real terms, this doesn’t make any changes to your cup of tea if reused within the recommended number of times.

Tea shops and Cafes say they reuse loose tea leaves 5-6 times, giving customers a full range of features a tea can offer (taste, aroma, color, and texture). But when exceeding the recommended number of times to reuse, the tea can taste weaker and flat with less aroma.

As perhaps a strange statement, tea makers say there is no hard rule to this reusability and to continue until you feel the tea’s given everything it can offer. I mean we can TRY, certainly, there’s nothing to lose by trying!.

Anyway, focusing on recommended times, I’ll take you through the re-usability of different loose tea leaf varieties and related facts.

Why not find out the top Countries where Tea is grown!

Can You Reuse Green Tea Leaves

Yes, you can. Green tea leaves are becoming very popular due to its many health benefits and are reusable. You can reuse them 2 to 4 times and still retain its best features. For a fun fact, Japanese green tea leaves have a stronger flavor in its following reuse/re-steep, than in its first brew.

Next up Rooibos tea leaves.

Can You Reuse Rooibos Tea Leaves

Yes, you definitely can. Rooibos tea leaves that are free from caffeine are famous and are perhaps consumed for its red color. This color cannot be consistently expected from each brew when reusing Rooibos tea leaves. But you can reuse Rooibos tea leaves 3 to 4 times with the same significant features for a quality cup of tea with decent color.

What about White tea leaves?

Can You Reuse White Tea Leaves

Yes, you can reuse white tea leaves. White tea is known to be one of the lightest and delicate varieties of tea because it has been so minimally processed. So the ability to reuse them with its quality features limits to 2 to 3 times. Yet, the delicate nature of this tea can also limit the re-usability to one, especially if it’s of low quality.

Then Oolong Tea Leaves?

Can You Reuse Oolong Tea Leaves

Rather than yes or no, I would say please reuse – always. Oolong tea leaves show its different facets of flavors every time you reuse them. Be surprised that you can reuse Oolong tea leaves 6-12 times with better flavors on every reuse/re-steep. But the best infusion of flavors happens in the second or fifth time of reuse/re-steep.

Next up is a moment for mint lovers.

Can You Reuse Mint Loose Leaf Tea

Yes, you can reuse them. Mint loose leaf tea is often consumed for its refreshing flavor, aroma and cool aftertaste. On average you can reuse mint loose tea leaves 3-4 times with an acceptable and convincing flavor. But when steeped for too long (which happens every time we reuse) the tea will taste bitter and dull.

Also, the refreshing element of reused loose mint tea leaves is not always promising and depends heavily on the quality.

And finally let’s bring on the herbal variety.

Can You Reuse Herbal Tea Leaves?

Yes, you can reuse from 2 to 3 time, but remember we consume herbal tea for its precise flavors and health benefits. So while reusing these, its flavors or health benefits will never be promising as the first brew. In fact, reusing can cause herbal components to blend improperly with hot water. Thereby, failing to give the intended health benefit or an unpleasing taste altogether.

Discover 100 Amazing Facts About Tea!

Conclusion

It is perfectly possible to reuse any variety of loose tea leaves. The ability to reuse loose tea leaves depends on many factors ranging from nature, size, shape, oxidation levels, roasted/non-roasted and quality.

While no real changes are felt when reused within the recommended number of times, some varieties present their best flavors with every reuse/re-steep. However, studies highly recommend reusing any tea within the day of its first brew.

I hope this has helped you in some way. Perhaps you’ve been able to drink a lot more tea because of it – I really hope so! Let me know if that’s the case in the comments below.

Like loose leaf tea? Then you’ll love my Tea Course! Become the tea expert among family and friends and impress everyone with your tea tasting event!

tea sommelier course

Take the fast track to become a tea connoisseur

Whether for enjoyment or considering a career as a tea sommelier. This course has everything you need to enhance your tea knowledge and tea tasting skills.

This course keeps it simple with step by step tea tasting, and easy reference guides

For pleasure, or as a precursor to a career in the tea industry. Find out what a tea sommelier actually does, career paths, and what they earn.

Find out more about the Teahow Tea Sommelier Course!

And before you go, do check out my best tea for beginners article. And for those seasoned tea heads among you, be sure to check my specially curated recommended tea-wares page for that perfect gift or that new kettle you’ve promised yourself!

Related Questions

Can You Reuse a Tea Bag? Yes, you can reuse a tea bag. Yet, the number of times you can reuse for consistent flavors and the steep time for each reuse depends. Largely on the variety of tea used it’s quality and oxidation levels.

10 Replies to “When and How Much to Reuse Loose Leaf Tea – of all Varieties”

  1. Thank you for the comment Jeremy, Glad you liked the article. I’d probably say not to double the time, but certainly, increase the infusion time with each brew. Probably near to 20-30 seconds more than the previous infusion – as an easy rule to follow.

  2. Great Article!
    Can I just ask, do you double the steeping time for Oolong?
    My tea says brew for 3 minutes, so would I rebrew for 6, and then 12!?
    Thanks!
    Jeremy

  3. I’d say yes is the short answer. But give it a try and see. 🙂

  4. Can I reuse my tea leaves if they have been sitting in the pot overnight? Could I dry it and the reuse it?

    Many thanks for your wonderful site!

  5. Good question Gloria, I would suggest giving it a try. I can’t see any harm in testing it. You’ll know by the results 🙂

  6. I make my tea(loose herbs) in a espresso maker. Can you reuse those herbs a second time

  7. Thank you so much! I had a feeling it was wasteful to use my tea leaves only once!

  8. You have turned my tea drinking life around. I am embarrassed to say I did not know it was worth reusing tea for a few cups. I grew up thinking, wrongly it turns out, that tea was meant for one use. We can all learn something new to appreciate our tea drinking. Thank you!

  9. Thanks for your help and support ❤️

  10. Regarding re-steeping tea bags. It would work for me, because if I fully extract the flavor out of tea bag, it would be too strong for me. I generally split the flavor extraction in 2-3 brews. So I guess it depends on how strong you want the tea to be. As for white tea, I completely agree with you, but I think it’s good to note that aged white tea can last for many steeps.

Comments are closed.