You prep your teapot, boil some water on the stove, pour it into the teapot to steep, pour yourself a cup of tea, and half an hour later...
It’s still sitting there!
Many of us just assume it’s best to reheat your cup of tea in the microwave, but already-brewed tea can be a little fickle when it comes to flavor.
So today, we’re talking about reheating tea and what you can do to try and salvage your forgotten cup of tea.
Should You Reheat Tea?
In general, if it’s just tea and you haven’t added anything else to it, reheating tea is fine.
You’ll lose out on some of the flavors you get in a freshly brewed cup of tea (and some can get a little more bitter), but there’s nothing wrong with microwaving your tea back to a comfortable temperature. (It’s often better than losing out on your favorite cuppa tea!)
However, if you’ve added anything to it, especially milk, that’s where things can get a little icky. After sitting for too long, milk can start to solidify, leaving you with some not-so-pleasant tasting gunk on top.
Reheating won’t make this any better in this situation. The best you can do is try to scrape off the top layer and reheat it in the microwave. (At this point, I’ll usually just throw it out and fix another cup.)
More than flavor, reheating tea can break down a lot of the beneficial compounds in tea. It doesn’t make it bad for you, but you’re missing out and the health benefits of tea if you get in the habit of forgetting your tea and reheating it!
How to Reheat Tea
Stovetop reheating is the best way to go. Reheating tea on the stove doesn’t cause the flavor to change as drastically as it does when you use the microwave. (In general, microwaves aren’t advised. But sometimes it’s the most convenient, or only, option for reheating your tea!) However, the microwave is probably the most practical way to reheat tea.
Here are a few ways you can safely reheat your tea:
- If you’re using the stove, just heat it until it reaches the desired temperature; you can let it simmer a tad, but don’t let it boil!
- If you’re using an electric kettle (some of them have a convenient strainer at the top), you’ll want to make sure it has temperature control. If not, try to cut it off, just before boiling.
- Lastly, the microwave — practical, easy, and consistent, but it can mess with flavor a bit. Just heat for 30 seconds at a time until it’s back to the desired temperature.
Alternatives to Reheating Tea
If you’ve only added a bit of sweetener to your tea, your forgotten cuppa might be a good candidate for some of the following experiments:
- Pouring in a small ice cube tray
- Diluting and serving as iced tea (if it was over-brewed and can hold up to more water/ice)
- Put in the fridge to save for a day when you want a cold drink
- Mixed in with a freshly brewed pot of tea to stretch it a bit
Don’t feel bad about pouring tea out if you don’t enjoy it, or you’re worried about health concerns. Chances are you have plenty more tea to enjoy. You’ll be better served by just making a fresh cup of tea when you have the time!