I've read the posts about why Green Tea can appear brown, and it makes perfect sense.

However, what I'm experiencing is different. When I reuse my Green Tea Bags a second time, I get the green color one would expect. Totally counter intuitive, I know.

Any ideas why this is happening?

Some additional information: The green tea bags I buy are from a local Asian Market. They are sourced from China, so not likely high quality. I also do NOT place them in boiled water, but place 8 bags at a time in a gallon pitcher, in the room temperature purified water (reverse osmosis water), and let them steep for 24 hours. I then refrigerate the tea. First batch is always brown but the second batch made from the re-used bags is green.

  • 1
    Is the tea brown throughout the brewing process, or does it become brown later? Also, have you noticed any other changes, like taste or scent?
    – RICK
    Jul 7, 2014 at 3:51
  • I don't know the answer to your question, but it could be a desired effect. I know that a lot of tea ceremonies involve throwing away the first lot of water that goes on the tea. Sometimes stated as rinsing or washing the the tea. Also why would tea from china not be good quality, they take tea pretty seriously.
    – vwiggins
    Jul 14, 2014 at 12:44

3 Answers 3


I know that with pu'er tea (not a green tea), they rinse and 'awaken' the tea with the hot water first - dumping out the first brew (seemed like a waste to me). They say the 2nd is good, but the 3rd cup and on is much better ! I never noticed the color of my green tea changing, but I must admit i like the second pot better than the first - when re-brewing same tea leaves. perhaps the oxidation from the leaves is brewed of in the first pot?


When you brew tea, you extract certain chemicals from the leaves which is what gives flavour and colour to the water that you then drink and (hopefully) enjoy. Because there are a number of different compounds involved, they extract from the tea leaves at different rates.

When you brew a second cup, there won't be as many of the fast-extracting compounds in it because most of those went straight into the first cup. Thus the second cup will not have the same colour or flavour as the first.

A third cup will proceed along similar lines, as the balance of compounds extracted from the leaves changes yet again. Likewise for fourth etc. until the leaves can no longer produce enough flavour to make another cup worth drinking (this varies according to your leaves, brewing method and personal taste - I've got some teas which will happily do four brews, while others give a very poor third cup that I'm seldom in the mood for).

So the reason why the second cup is different is because brewing the first cup changed the composition of the tea leaves.


Green tea contains stuff that reacts with oxygen from the air to turn the tea brown. You can prevent this by adding a little bit of acid (lime juice, citric acid, vitamin C) directly after or with the water.

I never steeped my tea that long but it might be that there is nothing of the stuff responsible for this reaction left when you reuse the leaves.

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