What Happens if You Leave A Tea Bag in too Long

By March 9, 2017

As a widely favored drink, tea has been an essential part in our life. And the occurrence of tea bag brings us a lot of convenience, making tea steep a not that difficult thing. But thing likes “What happens if you leave a tea bag in too long?” confuses people a lot. We can see that on various forums.

“Why can’t I just leave my tea bag in while I drink it?” – From Reddit
“Does leaving a tea bag inside of a cup for a long time result in bad consequences?” – From Quora
“What happens when you leave in your tea bag longer than you’re supposed to?” – From Yahoo Answers

tea bags

Actually, you don’t have to be too fussy about what hazardous effect the over-steeping tea may have on you. There is no harm in leaving a tea bag in too long.  But the over-steeping tea can make the tea taste a little more bitter  and has an astringent effect in the mouth, leaving you feeling dry and puckery. Also, it may bring stains on your cup or teeth. By the way, it is suggested to steep the tea bags only once

People steep tea according to their own personal preference. For those who like strong and bitter tea, they brew it for a long time. Actually, there is recommended steeping time for different types of tea, which is often between 3 to 5 minutes. Teabags with tiny tea particles will deliver a much more quick infusion, which is often within 2 minutes. And if you don’t take it out from your cup or pot in time, it would be undrinkable bitter. To avoid leaving loose leaf tea in too long, you need to use a teapot with build-in filter. (Learn how to brew loose leaf tea)

over steeping tea

Compared with teabags, loose leaf teas with larger leaves are not that likely to become bitter. Because it will take a longer time to taste bitter. That’s why you are often served with loose teas at table, because there is no need to spend time removing the teabags from the pot. (Learn: loose leaf tea vs. tea bag)

It’s alright to leave Jasmine and chamomile in as long as you want, because they are flowers. But for teas like Oolong, white, black, green and etc. it’s definitely not appropriate to do so. And it’s especially true for green tea. Because green tea comes from camellia sinensis, which releases tannins once over steeped and that make your tea bitter. Although it’s pretty bitter, it’s not harmful to you at all but just tastes like crap.

chamomile tea for sleepless night

Tannins in tea often have positive effect on health, and like most substances, are healthiest in moderation. And it has been proved that tannins have antimicrobial properties and act effectively against many bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Besides, they work well in reducing blood pressure and heart disease risks.

Tips: To brew loose tea, I am using this glass teapot. It is made of borosilicate glass, which can be directly heat on stove. Also, the infuser helps me a lot to brew loose leaf tea. 

ecooe glass teapot

So, don’t worry about the side effect of over-steeping tea, it can only lead to the bitterness of the tea. It’s still drinkable if you like.

Related: How long you should steep tea

How many times can loose leaf tea be used

What is the best time to drink green tea for weight loss

Comments (1)



  1. My tea bag (popular brand) was left to soak in a clean cup of clear cool water for 36 hours. A pasty substance was found floating in the water plus at the bottom of the cup. What caused this and why.