Ever since getting into high-quality loose-leaf tea, I've often made multiple infusions of my tea leaves. Being frugal, initially my motivation was to get more mileage out of my leaves (and money), but I soon found that this process opened up new avenues for exploring different facets of the aroma and flavor of a each tea. I also found that making multiple infusions tends to work better with some types of teas than others, and by and large, my personal experience meshed with what I read, which was that black teas tend not to work well with multiple infusions, but it generally works well with greens, oolongs, and Pu-erh. I dispute the assertion that it works well with whites; as a general rule I like to infuse my white tea only once.
Why doesn't black tea work well for multiple infusions?
I don't know. Presumably, the chemicals that produce the key pleasing qualities of the aroma of black tea diffuse quickly. I'd be grateful for any insights on this point.
Are there exceptions to the rule?
Some people classify Pu-erh, especially Shu (ripened) Pu-erh, as a black tea, but I don't think this categorization makes much sense, especially if one is talking about aged Pu-erh, and it certainly does not make sense for Sheng Pu-erh. So I don't think this is an exception. On RateTea I've created a completely separate category for Pu-erh, which is broken up into raw and ripened, sheng and shu.
I recently made multiple infusions of a Japanese Black Tea from Far West Trading Company; while it "worked", the results did not impress me, and although I liked the tea, I preferred to brew it with a single infusion. This result fit with the overall pattern that I've observed: some black teas can be steeped twice, but the results are rarely as good as making multiple infusions of a green or oolong. And again, it's only twice, in contrast to the 3-7 (or sometimes more) infusions you can get out of a good green, oolong, or Pu-erh. Another tea which was a past favorite of mine, I found fit this same pattern...but even then, I would hardly classify this tea as a black tea; it was the greenest "black tea" I have ever tried: Barnesbeg FTGFOP1 First Flush, greener in color than many green teas. And even then, when making two infusions (only two) produced a drinkable cup, I still preferred making just one.
Have you found any black teas that work well with multiple infusions?
Let me know. I'm curious to get others' feedback on this question.