The Theory of One Great Infusion
A Whispering Pines Tea Company Lab Test
Some tea drinkers are on a tight budget. They like to make as much tea out of the teaspoon of leaves as possible. Many of them make 3-5 infusions, pouring them into one large pot to chill in the refrigerator. We know that steeping some tea for a longer time will make it taste bitter. What if we could take all that work and cram it into one simple infusion?
Bitterness does not come from how long the leaves are steeped, but rather the leaf/time ratio. The tannic acid in the leaf produces both astringency and bitterness, and my guess is that ideal steeping times release tannic acid in an amount minimal enough that we can’t taste it. Instead of first infusing 1 teaspoon of leaves for 3 minutes in 8 oz of water and then doing a second infusion with the same leaves (also in 8oz of water) for 5 minutes, we could theoretically infuse 1 teaspoon of leaves in 16 oz of water for 8 minutes.
Materials and Methods
We will be using two 8 oz mason jars for each test cup as well as a stainless steel infuser and the NewLeaf Tea Set.
Test #1: Two infusions
Using the Stainless Steel Infuser in the 8 oz mason jar, I infused 1 tsp of Golden Sunrise Tea in 8 oz of boiling water for 3 minutes. I then poured that cup into the 16oz NewLeaf Tea Set (NTS). I waited 5 minutes and preceded to do a second infusion for 5 minutes, also using 8 oz of boiling water. I poured the second infusion into the NTS, stirred the two infusions together, and poured 8 oz back into the mason jar.
Test #2: One Infusion
I infused 1 fresh teaspoon of Golden Sunrise Tea in the 16 oz NTS for 8 minutes — the combined time of the two infusions in test #1. After removing the infuser from the NTS, I stirred the tea and poured 8 oz of it into a second mason jar.
Upon first glance, the color and aroma of the two test jars was identical. I decided to let them cool off entirely (approx 30 minutes) before a taste test. The taste of the two cups of tea was also identical, proving my hypothesis correct!
So what does this mean for tea drinkers? Well, putting these results into practice will save you a lot of time and tea in the long run. There are some teas that are incredible chilled, such as Apple Cinnamon O’olong, that hold up to 5 extremely flavorful infusions. Instead of making 5 infusions with one teaspoon of using 5 teaspoons per cup, you can steep 1 teaspoon in a 40 ounce teapot for the combined time of all 5 infusions (2m, 2m, 3m, 4m, 5m) — 16 minutes.
Factors impacting this method include water cooling. Upon loading a photograph (top of the page) of the two jars, I noticed the left jar (two infusions) was slightly darker. This is most likely due to the water cooling during the 8 minute infusion in comparison to essentially resetting the temperature 3/8 through the two infusion method. Within 8 minutes, your water will have cooled quite a bit, so I would suggest adding just a little amount of time (around 15%) to The One Great Infusion.
Enjoy your tea!