Tea Terminology: What does the word “Steep” mean?

We often hear the tea experts or tea sommeliers and many others in the tea industry use the word “steep” and get confused by what it actually means. The instructions to prepare different kinds of teas is often given using this term like, “Steep the tea for 2 minutes in boiling water…” or “Oolong teas can be steeped up to 25 times…”
In today’s post, we’ll clear your doubt and explain in detail what it really means.

Meaning of Steep:

The simple meaning of steep is “to soak”. Basically, we take the dry tea leaves and soak them in a liquid to permit the tea leaves to infuse its flavor and aroma to the liquid. This process changes the color of the water and gives it a brand new flavor which is then poured and further consumed. So when you are asked to steep your tea, all you have to do is prepare a simple cup of tea.

Tea leaves can be steeped multiple times…

This is the most confusing part when it comes to steeping tea leaves. People are generally unaware that the same tea leaves can be soaked and used multiple times to make separate cups of tea depending on the type and properties of that tea.

So if you are asked to steep your White Tea three times then you have to follow this procedure:

First Cup: Steep No. 1

1) Take the required quantity of dry leaves.

2) Soak in water at 180 to 185° F

3) Wait for 1 minute

4) Pour and drink 

Second Cup: Steep No. 2

1) Take the same used tea leaves

2) Soak in water at 180 to 185° F

3) Wait for 1:30 minutes

4) Pour and drink 

Third Cup: Steep No. 3

1) Again take the used tea leaves from Steep No. 2

2) Soak in water at 180 to 185° F

3) Wait for 1:30 minutes

4) Pour and drink 

Hopefully, now you’re clear and will easily steep your favorite tea and enjoy it. You will also make the most optimum use of your tea leaves by following the required number of steeps for different kinds of tea suggested by the experts. You will not only save money but also enjoy a change in flavor from one steep to another. So, if you have been using your tea leaves only once and then throwing them away. Rethink your ways and start steeping your tea multiple times.  

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