How to Revitalize Day-Old Cloudy Tea

There is no longer any need to waste that forgotten potful of tea that sat overnight and greets you in the morning. There is also no longer any need to shudder at the sight of cloudy tea and dump it, unceremoniously and untasted, down the drain. This article will show you how to revitalize day-old cloudy tea and make it clear and tasty again. That will save your tea budget, make the sun shine on a cloudy day, and the birds will gather at your window to serenade you. Well, not sure about those last two, but definitely the first one!

The Forgotten Potful Isn’t An Uncommon Occurrence

You get busy with something or it gets late and you don’t want the caffeine (as low as the amount in tea is compared with coffee) or drinking a lot of liquids just before bedtime isn’t a good idea for you. Whatever the reason, a lot of us do the same thing. You have the option, of course, of steeping up a smaller potful (we tend to steep up a 6-cupper at a time in our house), but be sure it will satisfy your craving for that tasty beverage. If only one or two cupfuls is needed, especially for your post-dinner, pre-bedtime cuppa, then cut back on the amount you steep. If your libation calculations go awry, though, all is not lost.

The Forgotten Potful Isn’t Wasted

Depending on the tea you had started with, you can save that day-old cloudy tea with a simple procedure. [Cloudiness in your tea is not necessarily an indicator of bad taste.] Our personal experience recently should illustrate this nicely and help you when you encounter a similar situation.

The tea in our pot was a blend of the last of a tippy Assam black tea sample, some orthodox English/Irish Breakfast tea, and a bit of orthodox Ceylon black tea. The tippy Assam black tea was most likely responsible for how cloudy the tea had become overnight. Pouring out that cupful was a bit of a shock and certainly did not appeal. But the teas were premium ones that, even though one was given to me as a sample, I wanted to get every tasty drop from. There had to be a way to salvage it, plus my need for a cuppa at that time did not allow for the 20 minutes required to bring water to a full boil in the tea kettle and then the 5-6 minutes of steeping time.

Here is what worked:

  • The tea in the cup was dumped into a microwave safe container (a 2-cup Pyrex® measuring cup in this case).
  • We added about the same amount of water, diluting the tea by 50%.
  • We heated the mixture in the microwave about 2 minutes on high power (the regular setting).

The tea came out clear and smelling heavenly! We poured it into our cups, added a bit of milk and sweetener, which is what we usually do, and enjoyed it. There was more left in the pot, so we just repeated this procedure for subsequent cupfuls.

Don’t Dump That Tea

Next time you find yourself with last night’s potful of tea facing you in the morning, or when you steep a potful in the morning and forget about it until dinner or even later in the day, just know that all is not lost. No need to dump that tea. The lighter teas will often not need any water added (we just know that dark teas like this will get overly strong tasting when reheated in a microwave) and will do fine with a slight reheating in your microwave.

Some guidelines:

  • White teas – do not add water, reheat 10-15 seconds at a time in the microwave until warm enough (why there would ever be leftover white tea is a mystery unless, as we have done in the past, you are trying several at once and comparing them)
  • Green teas – reheat 15-20 seconds at a time in the microwave until warm enough (again, why you’d even have leftover green tea is a mystery)
  • Oolong teas – lighter ones should be treated like green teas; darker (more roasted) ones should be treated like black teas
  • Black teas – Assams definitely need some water added (50-50 ratio is best if you steeped it up strong), Keemuns should have some water added, too (40-60 water to tea ratio), Ceylons may not need any water added or just a small amount, Kenyans are not as prone to bitterness as Assams even though it’s a similar or the same cultivar but add some water anyway to help the tea become more clear
  • Pu-erh – I never recommend this process for pu-erh teas, especially since you will rarely have any left over after your gongfu tea session

Happy sipping!

© 2016-2020 A.C. Cargill photos and text


This site has transitioned from a blog to an e-zine. Things are going to get a lot more interesting. And yes, guest writers are welcome – just email us.


2 thoughts on “How to Revitalize Day-Old Cloudy Tea”

    1. I rarely have leftover tea either, but the other day we had about a half a potful from the previous evening. How that happened I had no idea, but there was no way we were going to dump it!


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