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This is a common question to all tea drinkers. The problem is somewhere else – people mix Eastern and Western steeping methods. They make generalization of the two methods but the two styles have some basic distinctions.
Eastern Steeping Method
In this process, the tea is repeatedly steeped using small amounts of water for short time. This steeping is usually done in a small mixing pot or 'gaiwan' which holds less than a cup of water. In Eastern steeping more tea leaves are used than Western steeping. Gongfu style tea has its base in this steeping process.
Western Steeping Method
In this method, tea is steeped in a large vessel once or twice and for long time.
Where does the question of storing steeped leaves arise?
If you find people asking about re-steeping or how many times they can steep a portion of their tea leaves, you should understand that they are talking about Eastern steeping process. In this process, you produce liquor in small amounts and since more leaves are used you can have many number of steeping.
In Eastern steeping, you can easily steep the tea leaves for 5 to 10 times in a time of 30 minutes. In this you do not have to worry about storing the steeped tea leaves because they sit in the vessel itself until next steeping. The problem arises when people try to steep tea in the Eastern method but use a large vessel instead of a small one and small amount of tea, which are characteristic features of Western steeping.
In such a case, if you want to re-steep it might take hours and even a day prior re-steeping. Now, even if you use large amount of tea leaves you have to wait for hours for re-steeping since you are brewing tea in large amount.
How to store tea leaves after one steeping?
Well, the fact is – if after steeping the leaves once, many hours pass, then you cannot store them properly without diminishing their quality.
Thus, if you feel that you will not be able to use the leaves to the fullest in one day, it is better to throw them in cold water and then put that water in the refrigerator for the whole night. In the next morning, pour that cold water in a cup and enjoy a pleasant ice tea.
Another way is to buy a finum steeping basket that fits perfectly in a coffee mug. Then put 3 to 5 grams of ball-style oolong in it and brew it for 1 or 2 minutes. After that put those leaves aside and drink the liquor. You can keep steeping those leaves for multiple times.
Do you have any other better way of storing the steeped leaves?
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