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I order my green tea leaves in small vacuum sealed baggies from China. They are crumbled up, but expand out once they become saturated. I typically use maybe half a teaspoon of these dried tea leaves, and I usually steep them around 5-7 times. Each time I steep my leaves (I use a personal french press for this) and I pour the tea into my cup, the tea is colored (obviously). The color of the tea never seems to fade between steeps.

2 questions:

  1. When I pour my tea, if it's colored still, does that mean I am still getting flavanoids from the leaves?
  2. How many times can I steep my tea before it starts to lose the flavanoids?
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3  
"Nutritional value" isn't really well-defined or within the scope of our site. Generally when you see claims like that, they're based on pretty sketchy evidence about nutritional benefits, and we don't want to get into those debates. I'll just edit your question to ask about the compounds you're actually worried about, and let you decide for yourself whether they actually have meaningful nutritional value. –  Jefromi Feb 17 '14 at 18:23

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Nutrition itself is off-topic. However, keep in mind the following:

There are many compounds in tea leaves and some dissolve early, and some a little later. At some point (around 5-10 minutes of steeping at ~95°C), you will lose majority of the 'good stuff' and continue picking up less desirable compounds.

You will notice that while colour might persist, the taste will be come less and less desirable. In some cultures re-using tea leaves is considered a faux-pas because of this.

If you find your tea to be too strong after steeping, the best thing is to reduce the amount of leaves for the next time; as opposed to steeping them multiple times.

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It’s not necessarily about the tea being too strong or anything like that, given that the mixture of compounds extracted into the water will change over time. There are types of green tea where I for one actually prefer the taste of the second or third steeping. As far as I know, I’m not alone, although tastes vary on the types used, obviously. –  Christopher Creutzig Feb 17 '14 at 19:39
    
I'd suggest you to back up your claims with references. –  TheIndependentAquarius Jun 8 at 9:00

Tea is made from leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, which can grow in many parts of the world

25% of the leaf dry mater is the Catechin Polyphenols. This is present in all main tea types (white, green, and black). They also contain other Polyphenols like Theaflavins, Tannins, and some Flavonoids

Catechin is the main Flavanol (not a Flavonols) present when tea is steeped in hot water

The combined Polyphenols in a 200 ml cup of tea would be from 50 to 500 mg

The Flavanols and Flavonoids give tea the astringency, bitterness, and colour we associate with traditional tea, and also the distinctive after-taste

While all these chemicals are highly water soluble chemicals, they dissolve at different rates, and cannot be entirely dissolved out on the leaf cellular structure with heat and damage to the leaf structure

Repeated steeping with continue to work, though the flavour will change with each steeping as different Polyphenols dissolve out at different rates

Some people rinse the tea leaves in warm water for minute of two, and discard this water. While you will loose large amounts of Caffeine, you do also remove some Tannins that can be quite bitter and be part of the metallic after-taste

The finer ground or crushed the tea leaf, the more Polyphenols you can extract from them, and the more steepings you will be able to achieve

Increasing the heat of each steeping will also help in releasing more Polyphenols

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-1 Any comments? –  TFD Jun 9 at 7:11
    
Claims need to be backed up with references. –  TheIndependentAquarius Jun 9 at 10:19
    
@TheIndependentAquarius Where to start. There are volumes of books on tea and plant leaf biology. Online? Mostly tea associations and manufacturers e.g. teausa.com/14655/tea-fact-sheet, and commentary typical of Chinese tea drinking labrangtraders.com/Tea%20101.php. Then onto crazy research tested.com/science/weird/451668-dispelling-myth-tea-bag-dipping. In summary it's a very popular topic –  TFD Jun 10 at 9:38
    
If it is a very popular topic then it shouldn't be difficult to quote the ""most reliable sources"" and put them in your answer, IMO. If you don't want to do it, that's okay for me. –  TheIndependentAquarius Jun 10 at 9:42
    
Great book on tea brewing history: "Tea – How tradition stood in the way of the perfect cup". This how I learnt about "tea grinders", a great idea! Tea chemistry: "Chemistry and Applications of Green Tea" Takehiko Yamamoto and Lekh Raj Juneja –  TFD Jun 10 at 9:55

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