When tea turns cold…

What to do with that cup of cold tea?

Tea in an infuser mug on the desk

Tea in an infuser mug on the desk. How many times you have come back to it to find it cold?

Don’t drink it, at least not just like that.

Coldness in tea heightens the chilling TCM nature of tea and can easily weaken a strong stomach, and hurt a weak one.

You may drink cold tea after you have been out in the sun, or sweating after exercise. Drink slowly. The heat in your body counteracts with the chilling nature at its own pace. That is why one should avoid gulping down iced tea.

To certain people the bad effect of drinking cold tea may come only very slowly and would not be apparent until after years. To some it can be pretty quickly.

Read more about this topic in the TCM nature of tea and the Do’s and Don’ts page.

You may choose to warm up the cold tea by adding very hot water or warming up the cup with a hot water bath. Or steam it. Both way would down grade the taste quality, but it’s still better than wasting it.

Do not reheat it in a microwave, unless you don’t mind most of the salutary matters losing their nature. On that note, tea polyphenols in the tea liquor do very gradually change their molecular structure and become less potent*. In another word, a freshly infused cup of tea is a lot better than one that has been idling there.


Ochazuke can be very elaborated, such as this one in a fancy Japanese restaurant. Its root, however, is much more humble. Pouring hot tea over the last bits of rice at the bottom of the rice pot so that one can eat every grain of the food.

Other ways to use tea turned cold:

  • Wash your face with it — Tea is an effective grease remover and disinfectant and yet it is milder than the mildest soap you can buy. There are people who turn used tealeaves into facial masks; those expensive cosmetic brands charge you a premium for a little bit of extra tea extract in theirs.
  • Water your plant with it — dilute it a few times to water the plants; the same things that nourish your body in tea nourish the plants too.
  • If you cook rice in a pot and find some remaining stuck to the bottom, a bit burnt and turned crispy, you may consider using that tea with it:
    • Put bits of dried fish, chopped green onion, baked seaweed, or whatever tasty ingredients into the rice pot.
    • Heat the cold tea in another saucepan, until very hot but not boiling.
    • Pour the tea into the rice pot and cover for a couple of minutes, or until the stuck rice has loosen up.
    • Ladle into rice bowls and serve. East Asians, esp the country folks, used to do that to finish their meals. The Japanese call this “ochazuke”. You can do that with freshly prepared hot tea over cold rice too.
Commercial facial mask

Commercial facial mask with real tea in it can be extremely expensive. Make your own. Your tea turned cold is ideal.

Do you have your own way to use it?

Share your experience with us in the comment from below.

* DJ Yang et al, Effects of different steeping methods and storage on caffeine, catechins and gallic acid in bag tea infusions, A Journal of Chromatography, 1156 (2007) 312–320

Leave a Reply