I purchased this nice whole-leaf oolong tea this afternoon. Oolong Tea

I steeped it in 200 F water for 3 minutes (as directed) in my tea steeping basket: steeped tea leaves and basket

And when I pulled out the basket, there were some uninvited guests remaining: uninvited guests

Did I do something wrong? I thought this was the kind of results to expect from tea "dust" that might be expected in a bag, but this is whole-leaf tea. Do I need to pre-sift my tea, or something? I'm afraid that as these remnant sit in the tea, they will make it bitter.

  • Sorry for showing my hand... and the crumbs on the table.
    – Ray
    Oct 21, 2011 at 2:30
  • This is completely normal. It's hard to find a strainer that can even filter out the smallest particles. What I normally do is to discard the last bit that's in the cup, so the dust go with it. It should not appear again after 3 steep. What also works great is to let the tea first settle down a bit in the pitcher. Then pour slowly, to make sure the dust stays in the pitcher. Dec 10, 2018 at 12:11

4 Answers 4


In Chinese tea "rituals" they "rinse" the leaves with hot water before steeping. Fill the pot with water and dump it out right away. Then fill your pot and continue as normal. This gets rid of the majority of the "dust". Like the others said, yes it's normal.

  • Doesn't this also get rid of most of the caffeine?
    – Marplesoft
    Oct 27, 2011 at 17:48
  • You're not leaving it long enough to steap. Just a quick pour through, so I don't think you lose much. Though to be honest, I have no real idea, how much caffeine is lost.
    – talon8
    Oct 27, 2011 at 19:31

This is normal. Even with whole leaf tea, it's a dried (and cooked) product. You're going to experience some "crumbling," and, in my experience, these grounds are more common with loose leafed tea than with dust-in-a-bag. Just pour out the last of your cup--or get used to the texture.


I'd be disappointed if there were no residue in most teas that I drink. Good Japanese teas often have a fair amount of it. The only way to reduce it is to use a finer mesh, but you'll probably lose flavor as well with most teas. I was advised with a certain green tea to use a finer mesh, but in general, there's nothing wrong with what you see.

The main reason you don't see (much) dust in tea from paper bags is that the paper filters are preventing a lot of that dust from getting in your cup. Even though a lot of the contents of a cheap teabag is nearly dust-like, less will escape the iron clutches of those paper filters.


It's normal in China to throw out the first cup of tea made with new tea leaves. You pour some water over the tea, don't let is steep too long, then through out and seep a second cup, this one you drink. You can keep topping up the tea with more hot water till the tea leaves have lost all there flavour.

  • That sounds like the kind of chinese tea where you leave the leaves in the cup. Nice.
    – itj
    Oct 28, 2011 at 5:48

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