I'm a regular consumer of tea (since about 2 years ago), usually from commercial tea bags.

They advise to infuse tea for 3 to 5 minutes, but there is some times that I have left it longer by accident.

So I have been wondering what are the consequences -if any- of infusing tea bag longer than recommended by sellers (sometimes up to 10 minutes). My question is general, but I'm especially interested in black tea.

  • 2
    On some German tea bags I even read a sentence like "Für einen sicheren Teegenuss xx Minuten in 100 °C heißem Wasser ziehen lassen", which translates into "For a safe/secure/certain tea indulgence, let the tea steep for xx minutes in 100 °C hot water". The ambiguity of "sicher" meaning both "safe" and "certain" is rather confusing... Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 8:43
  • There were problems with microbial contamination in the past with fruit/herbal teas, so they are probably required to print this on the packaging. Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 18:52
  • Long infusion often brings out bitter flavors. Some folk like it that way. Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 1:02

5 Answers 5


It's all about balance: the fresh bright and stimulating effect of the early part of brewing, first minute or so, versus the calming deep flavours of the later part of brewing.

some folks use more tea for less time to achieve that first effect; conversely, less for longer for the latter.

stewing for 10min spoils a proper English cuppa.

One trick worth trying with bags is to dip briefly in a small amount of boiling water and discard: this is to rid the 'dust'. One can then steep the 'fannings' longer without too strong a pot.

Interestingly, green tea is traditionally rinsed this way more for hygiene than flavour.


The tea will be stronger than you'd like if you steep it for too long. Over-steeping sometimes gives a bitter flavor as well. (I am guilty of frequently over-steeping as I have the attention span of a goldfish. Sometimes I remember to set a timer, sometimes not.)


The principle adverse affect is added astringency of your tea. If you like stronger tea, use a second bag and steep for less time.


There are many chemical compounds in tea, and some more more soluble than others. So a short steep will extract the more soluble compounds, while not extracting much of the less soluble ones.

The time when it starts getting bad is a function of both the tea and the water temperature. I personally like stronger teas (5-15 minute steep in hot water), but I know that if you make sun tea it'll get really nasty (bitter) if you leave it for 24 hours. But a 24 hour steep in the fridge is fine.

It's possible that a tea container recommending no more than a 3 minute soak is either made with a variety of tea that has more of the problematic chemical compounds, or that it's made with finer particles.


I tried it for ten minutes. The flavor is much better - deeper more robust. Try it to see for yourself.

Next time I am going to experiment with longer steeping time.

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