Life is about getting the most out of every moment, and in much the same way, truly enjoying your tea means getting the most out of every tea leaf through re-steeping. In fact, re-steeping high-quality tea is a great way to get more out of your investment, allowing you to justify spending more on better quality tea leaves.
To start, can you re-steep tea? The simple answer is yes, you most certainly can and should re-steep your tea. This allows you to enjoy the life and essence of your cup of tea, by mindfully enjoying the process of re-steeping. Pay attention to the subtle shifts in flavor, aroma and color that comes from steeping once, twice, three or even four times. You will get more bang for your buck by incorporating re-steeping into your routine, which means you can unashamedly spend more on better quality tea because you know you are going to get numerous servings out of each offering.
Gung Fu Cha (pronounced Kung Fu Cha) is a traditional Chinese method that describes the art of re-steeping and taking the proper time to prepare your tea. Gung Fu translates to “time and effort” while Cha means “tea.” Therefore, this method of re-steeping quite literally means taking time and effort to make your tea. Re-steeping takes time, discipline and care to derive the maximum benefit from the tea, physically, mentally and even spiritually.
Although it isn’t too well known, many types of loose-leaf teas and long-leaf teas are designed to be re-steeped. (Botanical, shortleaf, mint, and chamomile tea leaves are not designed for this.) When you chop up your loose or long-leaf tea, you create more surface area, allowing the boiling water to extract all the tea’s essence in that first cup. However, most teas, oolong, and green tea, along with white tea and black tea can easily hold up to two to three and even four steepings. Stronger flavors, like fermented Pu-erh Tea, can withstand an amazing 10 steepings without noting a substantial flavor decline. Generally, the stronger the flavor, the more it can hold up to repeated steepings.
In many cases, the first steeping of a leaf does not awaken or extract its flavors enough, meaning that you will improve the flavor with subsequent steepings. This is a process called awakening the leaf. The method begins by dampening the leaves, then rolling and curling them before they dry. Quality teas reveal more of their flavor profile nuances after more steeping. Tannins—the culprit of the bitter edge that tea sometimes has— is released primarily in the first steeping meaning that the flavor gets better after the first steeping.
Whether a tea can or cannot thrive with re-steeping is largely based on its surface area. A chopped tea leaf, as mentioned above, will react to the boiling water, which means you will get most of the flavor out in that first steeping. When you leave the leaf intact, though, you will notice the leaf doesn’t even open fully until it has been steeped between two and three times. These unaltered leaves release their flavors slowly, creating a richer flavor profile with each steeping.
If you want to begin incorporating the art of re-steeping in your tea preparation, follow the helpful tips below to get the most out of your experience:
When it comes to water and the re-steeping process, less is more. You should aim to use less and less water each subsequent steeping. Also, smaller vessels and shorter steeping times can encourage a better flavor profile to emerge each time. In addition, it’s important to keep the time between infusions short. Generally, you don’t want to let the leaves dry out between infusions.
Re-steeping your high-end, flavorful tea is a great way to create a healing routine of self-growth. You don’t rush to prepare your tea, just as you wouldn’t rush to get to know someone in a relationship setting. Instead, you spend time slowly with one another until slowly more and more personality comes out, and more beauty is revealed about the person.
In the same way, you are just getting started on the first steeping or infusion of your tea. While a first impression is good, there is so much more just under the surface and to reach that flavorful bit, you have to practice the art of re-steeping, which in and of itself is an act of patience and growth. Suffice it to say that what is a good practice for tea is also a good practice for life. Slow down and let it all sink in and get the most out of every moment and every relationship.