What happens if you leave a tea bag in too long?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “What happens if you leave a tea bag in too long?”. We will elaborate on different steeping times according to different preferences. 

What happens if you leave a tea bag in too long? 

If you leave a tea bag in too long, the tea will become a bit more bitter, making your mouth feel dry and pungent. Also, it may leave stains on your mug or teeth. 

Other than this, there is nothing bad about leaving a tea bag in too long. It is generally recommended to soak the tea bags just one time. 

People soak tea as per their tastes. People who enjoy strong and bitter tea, leave the tea bags in for a longer period. In reality, there is a suggested steeping time for different varieties of tea, which is usually between 3-5 mins. 

Teabags with teeny tea particles will give a much more immediate infusion, which is usually within 2 mins. And if it is not taken out from the cup in time, it would be unpalatable. To avoid steeping loose leaf tea for very long, you must use a teapot with built-in filters. 

Compared with tea bags, it is not much probable for loose-leaf teas that have bigger leaves to get bitter. As it will need more time to be bitter. That is why you are usually served with loose teas at the table because there is no requirement for spending time to remove the tea bags from the pot.

It is fine to let soak Jasmine and chamomile as much as you like since they are flowers. But for tea bags such as Oolong, white, black, green etc. it is surely not suitable. Also, it is specifically true in the case of green tea. 

Green tea originates from Camellia Sinensis, which extracts tannins when left in for too long, making the tea pungent. Even if it is really bitter, it is not unsafe for you at all but just tastes very bad.

Tannins in tea usually leave a favourable impact on health, and similar to many substances, are most nutritious in moderate amounts. It has even been verified that tannins have antimicrobial effects and function very well against many microorganisms. Also, they help to reduce blood pressure and cardiovascular risks.

So, do not stress about the bad effects of over-soaking tea, it can only result in bitter tea. It is still palatable if you want.

Drinking tea to be healthy

Recommended steeping time: 2 mins, 30 secs to 5 mins

Tea leaves are rich in healthy compounds. It has been proven by research that flavanols including catechins and epicatechins, present in both green and black teas, support suppressing inflammation and curbing plaque built-up in arteries. 

Drinking tea may enhance vascular activity, which indicates the adaptability of blood vessels to stress. 

Tea is also enriched with antioxidants that help to prevent diabetes, depression, and liver disorders.

Drinking tea for its good taste 

Recommended steeping time: 1-3 mins

There is nothing bad about enjoying a cup of tea merely for its taste. Flavour is the most subjective element affected by the time of soaking. 

To get a more mild taste, you do not have to soak tea leaves for a very long time. Some of the first volatile organic substances to dissolve in tea are geraniol and phenylacetaldehyde, linked to a tea’s flowery scent, and linalool and linalool oxide, which provide tea with its sweet taste.

The other substances we link to tea’s distinct taste are tannins. Some people want their tea to have some refreshing bitterness. Since tannins are some of the final molecules to liquefy into tea if you like some bitterness in your tea, soak it for 1-2 mins more than you typically would. 

A good way to manage the potency of your tea is to observe its colour: Like tannins, pigments are heavy substances, so if you notice that your tea is turning dark, that indicates it is becoming strong as well.

As for herbal teas, go ahead and soak the leaves in as much as you like. Because herbal teas are enriched with aromatic compounds and have fewer tannins, consumers can be more flexible with their soaking times without stressing about developing that bitter taste.

Similarly, if you are drinking tea for the caffeine boost, the recommended time for soaking would be 3-5 mins.

Other FAQs about Tea that you may be interested in.

What does black tea taste like?

Which has more caffeine: green or black tea?

Does camomile tea have caffeine?

Does powdered iced tea have caffeine?


In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “What happens if you leave a tea bag in too long?”. We have elaborated on different steeping times according to different preferences.