You’ve heard it before…don’t dunk your tea bag. Dunking isn’t even in the instructions on the side of the box. But we do it anyway!! And before any tea connoisseurs pipes in that loose leaf is better, let me remind them that swishing the infusers is really the same thing! So why do we do it? Are we bored? Impatient? Late? Is it a bad habit? Or something we’ve seen somewhere? Let’s breeze through the facts: The quality of tea is first determined by the quality of the plant, and the process it undergoes to prepare it for our teacup. The quality and temperature of the water used influences taste. So does the process by which we steep it. BUT… The length of time that we steep is also important. A process called Osmotic Diffusion occurs when tea leaves are submerged in hot water. Chemical compounds need time to diffuse into the water until the compounds in both the leaf and the water become equal. These compounds, however, require different steeping times. For example, the compounds that contribute to tea’s aroma and flavour diffuse the fastest; it’s why the aroma from a bag of tea leaves is stronger more as soon as it meets the water. The next compounds are the antioxidants and caffeine, and finally tanins are released (which gives tea it’s bitter flavour). So what happens when we dunk? Although compounds begin to diffuse the moment hot water is added, not all are diffusing at the same rate. And, since some of these compounds contain pigments, which start to colour the water, we mistake colour for flavour. As we dunk and swirl, the pigments, which diffuse more quickly in hot water, intensify the colour. But not the flavour or the quality of the tea. In our haste, we end up with a dark cup of tea that is lacking the flavour and the beneficial compounds, for which we are longing.
Impatience can cause wise people to do foolish things. Janette Oke
Or in any event, a perfectly lovely cup of tea. STOP DUNKING! Sources: Dunking Tea Bags & How Long to Steep
One moment of patience may ward off a great disaster; one moment of impatience may ruin a whole life. – Chinese proverb