Can you reuse tea leaves?


gaiwan brewing approach


If you like drinking tea, there must be one thought that comes up in your mind after you finish drinking your cup of tea can I reuse these tea leaves? Seems too good to waste!

The short answer is YES, you can reuse tea leaves, especially loose leaf tea!

Reuse, in tea’s context, is re-steep. Resteeping tea leaves is a common practice in China. By using the gaiwan with gong fu approach of brewing tea (the one with gaiwan!), teas can be steeped multiple times — from 6 to 8 times, or even more. This method plays a big role in resteeping tea because it combines a lot of tea leaves with small amounts of water, allowing the tea to not lose its flavor easily. Hence, it is believed that the more you can resteep your tea without losing the flavor, the better your tea!

Another reason why resteeping tea is common in China is that there are some teas that may taste better after the first steep, like pu-erh and oolong tea. Some teas, like Tie Guan Yin oolong tea, are tightly curled and one steep will not be enough to uncurl the tea leaves. Other teas, like  Da Hong Pao oolong tea and pu-erh tea, may have a strong smoky flavor due to the processing method, and some people may find the second steep more enjoyable because the smoky flavor has disappeared.

Overall, teas (especially loose leaf teas) have a strong flavor that does not just disappear after the first steep, so throwing it away directly may be a waste.

But remember though - generally, only reuse the teas for a day, and drinking overnight teas isn’t good either.

Can you reuse tea bags?

The short answer is no, you cannot reuse tea bags. Tea bags contain smaller particles of tea that are made from crushed tea leaves, which means the flavor will dissipate faster than loose leaf tea. However, if you like to brew your bagged tea lightly, you may still get some flavor from your second brew. But this is not guaranteed! If you want a tea that can be reused multiple times, you should consider switching to loose leaf tea.

Can you reuse black tea leaves?

Yes, you can reuse black tea leaves, about only 3-5 times (5-10 times for traditional gaiwan / gong fu approach). Because black tea is already very oxidized, reusing it more than 3 times will not give you a strong flavor anymore. You can brew the first brew as usual, but you should expect a longer brewing time for the second because there may not be much flavor left. 

Can you reuse green tea leaves?

Yes, you can reuse green tea leaves 2-4 times (5-10 times for traditional gaiwan approach). Fun fact, Japanese green tea can withstand more brews, so if you are looking for a green tea that still tastes strong after 4 steeps, Japanese green tea is your answer!

Can you reuse oolong tea leaves?

Yes, you can reuse oolong tea leaves at least 5 times (5-10 times for traditional gaiwan approach) from a good quality oolong tea. Oolong tea is very good for reuse because only after the first brew that the leaves are fully unfurled, allowing more flavor and aroma to appear in the second brew onwards. You don’t have to worry about the flavor disappearing by each steep anymore!

Can you reuse pu-erh tea leaves?

Yes, you can reuse pu-erh teas up to 6 times (even more for gai wan approach)! Pu-erh tea is the tea that can be re-steeped the most, especially great raw pu-erh tea. Generally, the older the raw pu-erh tea, the more nuanced each steep is. Ripe pu-erh tea can also make several pots of tea, but the flavor may not be as nuanced as its raw counterpart.

Can you reuse white tea leaves?

Yes, you can reuse white teas about 2-3 times (5-10 times for traditional gai wan approach). White tea is one of the least processed teas, which makes it good to reuse a few times. Although it does not have a strong flavor from the start, you can expect its smooth and delicate flavor to withstand the multiple steeps.


Next time you’re brewing your loose leaf tea, remember that you can brew it more than once! Not only it allows you to get the most out of your tea, you can also save your money and the environment by reducing your waste.
To get the best flavor and aroma in each subsequent brew, get your high quality loose leaf tea in BornTea now.

Sign up for health tips, product updates, and more.