Can You Reheat Tea? When And Why Reheating Tea Is Not Safe


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It happens to most of us. You brew some tea and somehow leave it unattended for some time. Do you pour your neglected leftover tea down the drain, or can you safely reheat and enjoy your cup?

Can You Reheat Tea Safely

SHORT ANSWER – Is Reheating Tea Safe Or Harmful?

As a general rule, you can safely reheat your tea as long as it has not been sitting for more than eight hours. Reheating older tea may cause safety concerns. The flavor and nutritional quality of the tea may be compromised. Herbal teas and aromatized teas are prone to loss of flavor, especially.

There are several ways to safely and adequately reheat your tea. Also, there are tea variants that can withstand reheating, while reheating others can lead to undesirable effects. Read on to uncover the dos and don’ts of reheating tea. 

What Happens When You Reheat Tea?

Understanding what happens to your leftover tea can guide you when and how to reheat your tea safely. When tea sits for too long, the polyphenol (TP) found in the tea will start to oxidize. You may notice your milk tea has become a darker shade of brown, or your green tea turns bright green. 

The oxidization produces harmless, non-toxic chemicals such as thearubiginstheaflavins, and brownies. Reheating may over-activate the caffeine and theophylline while vaporizing Vitamin C and E, plus some essential oils. 

When reheating tea it is immensely important to reheat the tea to a high enough temperature. Over time, bacteria and mold (or other fungi) will grow in the liquid and may cause safety concerns. To get rid of these, a certain temperature has to be reached. Above 175 °F or 80 °C is generally considered safe.

When Can You Safely Reheat Tea?

It is generally safe to reheat tea that has been sitting for less than four hours. You may extend this period by placing your tea inside a fridge and in an airtight container. If you didn’t add any sweeteners like cream, sugar, or fruit, the refrigerated tea might last longer. 

It is generally safe to reheat tea that has been sitting for less than four hours. You may extend this period by placing your tea inside a fridge and in an airtight container. If you didn’t add any sweeteners like cream, sugar, or fruit, the refrigerated tea might last longer. 

You can safely reheat if your tea retains the original color, especially on the surface. Dip a teaspoon and scoop a little tea, then pour it back in. If the consistency remains constant, then your tea is likely still good. 

Can You Reheat Tea The Next Day Or After Two Or Three Days?

Generally speaking, tea should not be reheated for consumption when it has been sitting for more than eight hours. Bacteria and fungi will grow in the liquid over time. This process is faster when sugar or other additives containing sugars such as milk, honey, or fresh citrus juice are added.

When Should You Never Reheat Tea?

The components already faced high temperatures when you first prepared your tea. Some of the compounds in tea can become volatile when subjected to excessive heat. In particular, the essential oils may break down and will likely lose much of their unique aromas.

The herbs found in many tea variants may also be labile, which means they will break down when exposed to too much heat. Before reheating tea, check for mold. The presence of mold is a sign of bacteria, meaning your tea has gone wrong. Also, if your tea has a cloudy or murky look, then it may have gone bad.

There are three main factors you should consider before deciding to reheat your tea safely: 

  • How long did the tea set? Do not reheat tea that has been sitting at room temperature for more than eight hours.
  • Did you add milk and sugar? Milk tea goes faster, especially when combined with sugar. Don’t reheat sugary milk tea that has been idle for more than four hours.
  • Has the tea gone cold? If the tea has been sitting for less than ten minutes, maybe you can drink it tepid instead of reheating. 

How Many Times Can You Reheat Tea?

Tea can be reheated numerous times without concerns as long as it has not been sitting for a prolonged time. The tea will lose flavor and nutrients through the process of reheating. Still, the reheating process itself will generally not cause harm.

Which Types Of Tea Can You Reheat?

Can You Reheat Orthodox Tea Such As Green Or Black Tea?

Yes, all traditional tea varieties can safely be reheated as long as the brew is reasonably fresh. This includes green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, matcha tea, and Pu Erh tea. Ensure that the tea reaches high enough temperatures, above 175 °F or 80 °C, to reliably get rid of microbes.

Can You Reheat Herbal Teas?

Herbal teas of different varieties can be reheated safely as long as the tea has not been sitting for more than eight hours. This includes peppermint, chamomile, and most other herbal teas. The tea must reach temperatures above 175 °F or 80 °C to ensure safety. Otherwise, microbes may survive.

Can You Reheat Ginger Tea?

Reheating ginger tea is generally safe if the tea is not older than one day. Ginger tea may need to be steeped for longer than eight hours if you want to achieve a strong brew. There’s less of a problem here, as ginger tea does have slowing effects on microbial growth in the resulting brew.

It takes longer to extract ginger’s flavor, so you may need to steep for quite long – sometimes even overnight. Milk-less ginger tea doesn’t go bad quickly, so most people prefer to brew in whole pots rather than one cup at a time. That means you might have to reheat more than once if you can’t finish the pot in one sitting.

Can You Reheat Chai Tea?

Chai tea in itself is generally safe to reheat when younger than eight hours. Chai tea is more often than not prepared with additives such as sugar or milk. Because of this, the tea will be prone to bacterial growth and lose more flavor when reheated. Ideally, prepare chai tea one cup at a time.

Can You Reheat Tea With Additives?

Additives heavily influence the amount of time that you can let your tea sit. Especially sugar and other additives containing sugars such as milk (lactose), honey (fructose, glucose), or syrups will speed up the growth of fungi and bacteria in the tea. For that reason, tea should not be reheated past four hours of brewing with such additives.

Artificial sweeteners and added aroma do not promote microbes’ growth because they do not serve as a good food source. Because of this, artificial sweeteners do not take influence the safety of reheating tea.

In general, tea with additives should not be reheated past the age of four hours. Bacteria and mold will grow in the tea over time and will grow faster due to the additives. Artificial sweeteners and aroma do no influence their growth. Always reheat the tea above 175 °F or 80 °C to ensure safety.

How Can You Safely Reheat Tea?

As a general rule, tea can be reheated safely when younger than eight hours and heated above 175 °F or 80 °C to eliminate bacteria and fungi. Tea can safely be reheated using a microwave, oven, stove, kettle, or teapot. Reheating the tea using a microwave is recommended.

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