Should-I-eat-this-filter: Should I drink day-old green tea?
August 29, 2012 10:45 PM   Subscribe

Silly question but, is it ok to drink green tea I brewed yesterday and left in the fridge overnight? It's kinda weird - dark and bitter.

I'm quite sensitive to caffeine, to the point that a full cup of green tea in the morning will leave me jittery and unable to sleep in the evening. But I love green tea, and I've established a morning ritual and I can't imagine having to start the day without it.

As I use filter bags, I can't just use a smaller amount of tea. So I've tried diluting it: I make a full cup of green tea, then pour half of it away and top up with warm water. This works great, but I've recently acquired a very expensive tea. Now I'm starting to think it's stupid to throw half of it away every day.

My next experimental step was to pour half of my tea into a glass container and leave it in the fridge overnight. This morning, I've added some hot water to it and am drinking it, but it looks very dark and it's more bitter than yesterday. So - is it safe to drink it? (Extra detail, in case it matters: I'm pregnant.)
posted by gakiko to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you made some unsweetened iced tea.
posted by Garm at 10:50 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Safe, but over-brewed and probably unpleasant!
posted by Joh at 10:56 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

In future you can try buying loose leaf green tea, or cutting open your tea bags and using half the contents of a bag each day. You will need to get a cheap wire mesh tea strainer to keep the leaves out of your cup.
posted by monotreme at 11:13 PM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yeah, mesh strainers/tea balls are like $1. I have lived my whole life leaving half-finished cups of tea on my desk and drinking them the next morning, and it's never made me sick-- but you're pregnant so maybe yeah, keep it refrigerated/covered. But I think solving the problem by either 1) mass brewing iced tea or 2) cutting open the tea bags would be a good long-term solution.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:03 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oxidation is not your friend flavor-wise, but it is not unsafe.

Just make a half cup in the future and water it down - why are you wasting tea??
posted by jbenben at 12:12 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: THE BEST GREEN TEA:

1 TSP looseleaf green tea, I prefer Dragonwell lately, gunpowder is also pretty nice.

1 QUART sized wide mouth mason jar, with water.


1. Combine all these things logically, overnight.

2. In the morning, pour the water out. This is what's known as the first flush of your cold-brewed green tea. It contains most of the caffeine and is strongly flavored.

3. Refill mason jar, leaving tea leaves behind. Let "brew" for as long as you like.

4. Enjoy mostly caffeine-free green tea for as many flushes as you like, savoring the gradual difference in flavor from flushes two through five like the Japanese do.
posted by sibboleth at 12:46 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

You can try to brew it the way sibboleth mentioned, BUT I would pop the entire jar into the fridge. Cold-brewed Formosa oolong is delicious! However, since you are pregnant, I worry about any pesticide residue on the tea leaves.

How about: dunk the tea bag into your mug of water for about 30 seconds to a minute. Toss out the water. Make a fresh cup using the same tea bag. Good teas shouldn't lose all their flavor after the first infusion.
posted by pimli at 1:25 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

it should be fine to drink.

Also, You should use loose tea for more control over how much caffeination you want. Loose tea is better anyway. However if you really like the teabags, you can also brew for a short time, take the teabag out, and reuse it later.
posted by bearette at 2:07 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

When you store it, make sure you don't leave the tea bag in it.
posted by dawkins_7 at 5:33 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might also want to consider Hojicha or Mugicha as both of them are so low in caffeine that my 2 year old has been drinking both from birth (as do most Japanese children). I like the Hojicha much better, Itoen makes a decent version for everyday drinking and should be available in bigger Japanese markets abroad. Throw a teabag in to a 1~2 liter bottle of water in the fridge overnight and it wil be fine. For stronger tea, boil the water with the tea bag for a few minutes then refrigerate. This is daily routine for my family.
posted by sleepytako at 5:38 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

I drink a combo of black/green/jasmine tea, iced. I make a big jug of it and then put it in the fridge and pour over ice. Yummy.

Your green tea sounds like you made it too strong. Once it's bitter like that only a bit of sweetener will fix it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:25 AM on August 30, 2012

I have several thoughts!

1) Are you using boiling water? That may be your problem -- green teas should be brewed at just below boiling temp. I currently own a fancy kettle with temperature settings, but used to approximate this by letting the kettle boil and then letting it sit until the bubbles stopped. I do find that green tea brewed with boiling water tastes more bitter, but that could be confirmation bias.

2) I frequently cold brew iced tea (by putting loose tea in a big pitcher with a filter on top, topping with cold water and sticking in the fridge) and then drink it for a full week (topping it up with water when it gets low, straight until there's barely any flavour left). I've found expensive greens to be nice for this, as the flavour changes subtly with each top-up. You could do as I do, except pour a half cup into a mug every morning and top with boiling water.

(also use this example to say yes, you're fine, fridge tea is totally safe).

3) You could also just... use less tea? If you want to use the bagged tea you have, you could cut open the bag and split the tea between two new bags (I like these ones).
posted by AmandaA at 6:33 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Honestly, I'd make switchel with what you have. Brew a pot of mint tea, good and strong, and in a separate pan, make a simple sugar syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part water, heat to melt sugar). Now, combine the two strong teas with some of the syrup, and enough cold water to dilute. You may have to play with the levels to get the taste the way you want it. The mint and sugar will help with the bitterness, and you'll have a pleasant cold drink without wasting tea!
posted by LN at 7:04 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tea is fine unless it's furry.
posted by jb at 9:00 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

aw man, I forgot to mention the fridge. yes, that's definitely part of the process.
posted by sibboleth at 9:04 AM on August 30, 2012

I remember hearing that mint tea in large amounts might cause miscarriage, so I'd skip the mint mixture.
posted by SandiBeech at 9:43 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

If your tea is too bitter to drink, I would use it as skin lotion after you wash your face and don't throw it away. Moisten a cotton pad and apply on your face or leave soaked cotton pads on your face for 5-10minutes. Keep the remaining in a clean bottle in the fridge. You can also put it in a clean spray bottle and spray whenever you want to moisten your face...after running/workout is great cause your pores are open to absorb it fast.

In order to make it less bitter, after you boil the water, leave it to cool for 5-10minutes depending on the amount of water(more water means takes longer to cool), it'll still be hot enough to brew the tea. Then brew the tea leaves for around 5-15minutes. Take them out and save the leaves for your skin pack on the weekends. Your tea taste bitter because when you put the leaves(regardless of the leave size) in hot water, it burns in hot water, instead of getting brewed, so let it cool just slightly.
posted by icollectpurses at 5:05 PM on August 30, 2012

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