We've all seen the meme—the one that makes us feel personally attacked because of how closely it resembles the process of making a cuppa tea. Step one: Pour boiled water. Step two: Drop tea bag. Step three: Let it cool down. And finally, step four: Forget you made tea. And the cycle just keeps repeating itself.
While you could submit to drinking cold tea or tossing it down the drain, there are other options. This includes storing brewed tea, resteeping tea (hey, loose tea ain't cheap), and so much more.
Say goodbye to seeing another cup of tea go to waste. With these tips, you will get the most out of the hot beverage that never fails to feel like a hug in a cup.
How to store brewed tea
When you forget about hot tea, you've essentially just made iced tea—and all by accident. To maximize its shelf life, the best place to store it is in the refrigerator, where it will last for around three to five days. Just be sure that it's in an airtight container so it won't pick up the flavor or smell of other items in the fridge and so it will keep out bacteria and moisture.
Can you steep tea for hours?
We've heard of steeping tea for 5 to 15 minutes at most, so an hour of steeping sounds pretty extreme. While it is totally safe to do so in terms of taste and flavor, it's not the best idea. Green tea, for example, is typically steeped for a few minutes. Any longer than that and the leaves start releasing tannins, which are the naturally occurring compounds in tea that make it highly astringent and give off a bitter flavor.
These tannins are strong in black teas and can be used as a homemade remedy for diarrhea when steeped for a long time. That's great if you need it for that, but if not, it turns your relaxing cup of tea into a washroom nightmare. Yikes. Therefore, it's best to follow the quick-steeping instructions, which allow you to enjoy it hot and, for the most part, bitter free.
How to properly store loose tea
When properly stored, loose tea can last approximately 18 to 24 months. You can typically tell if the tea has gone past its prime if the flavor and aroma are weak even after steeping it for the recommended 3 to 5 minutes. It's important to keep your loose tea in an airtight container.
Forget storing unprepared tea in a freezer since it causes condensation (turning something into a liquid), affecting the overall taste and flavor of the tea. Prepared tea, on the other hand, is fine to store in the freezer. It can last there for six to eight months.
Can you reuse tea leaves?
Loose tea is often expensive, which can make it a real shame to toss it down the drain after just one cup. The good news is that there may still be some flavor left in those tea leaves you just used. The best ones to reuse include green tea, white tea, black tea, flavored tea, herbal tea, and a few others.
To resteep the leaves, aim to add 1-2 minutes to the original steeping time, making sure the water is at a good temperature. Some find that it's best to reuse the tea leaves within 3 hours of making that first cup because it won't be as fresh the next day.
With all this in mind, never waste a warm and cozy cuppa tea again.
Sarah is a multi-platform writer and editor. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Vital Proteins, Healthline, Diply, and more. When she's not writing, she's trying to keep up with her border collie, Emmy.