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What is tea rinsing and what does it do?

Question:

pu-erh teaWe have seen it at the tea demonstrations and ceremonies where hot water is added then disposed. Is this ceremonial or has a purpose?

Reasons for tea rinsing:

There are valid reasons that loose tea leaves should be rinsed and the Chinese have been practicing this for a long time. The reasons are:

  1. All loose leaf teas are hand handled at some stage. 100% handmade teas are still considered to be the best in China now. Tea rinsing with hot water eliminates, or at least significantly reduces the potential contamination from hand handling and storage after their production.
  2. For aged teas such as Pu-erh tea, we recommend to rinse the tea leaves with hot water for at least a couple of time before brewing. These teas have been conventionally and intentionally stored in a store room for a long time, with the notion the more aged they are the better the quality as a result of their post fermentation nature. The potential for dust contamination increases with time.
  3. The peak of a tea flavour lay at the second or third infusion for teas made of young leaves (eg green tea or white tea); 2ed-4th infusions for teas made of mature leaves such as Oolong teas and 3rd-6th for aged teas such as pu-erh tea. The rinsing water is almost flavourless if done as recommended – infuse for about 10 seconds only.

How to rinse tea:

Simply add hot water to the tea vessel where the tea is to be brewed, leave it for about 10 seconds and dispose the water. You can then add hot water to start the tea brewing process.

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