Steeping: The secrets to better tasting juice
You’ve been vaping for a few months, trying all of the flavours you can. You started on a tobacco blend, which suited you for a little while because you were switching from smoking. Then you went to watermelon, and that was a refreshing change. Your tastebuds had adapted by this point and you could really taste the flavours you’d been missing out on for years. You were so excited!
You rushed off to The Vape Store and grabbed some of the premium flavours, those mixes that the manufacturers had spent months poring over to perfect the hint of banana and blueberry that you get on the exhale after that initial creamy vanilla inhale.
But, wait… that’s what you were supposed to taste, and it didn’t happen! What you thought would be a transformative taste experience turned out to be pretty dull, actually. Those online reviews telling you that it was the best liquid on the market couldn’t have all been wrong, could they?
Well, maybe they weren’t wrong after all. Maybe this particular liquid needs to steep.
What is steeping?
Steeping, when used in vaping terms, is essentially an aging process. It allows all of the liquid elements to blend together completely, so that the Vegetable Glycerine is mixed with the Propylene Glycol which is mixed with the flavours in the liquid and even, if you choose to use it, the nicotine. Once steeped, every single drop of liquid that comes out of your juice bottle is the same. Furthermore, once mixed together the liquid elements often enhance the flavour of your juice.
Steeping is actually the process of soaking a solid in a liquid bath, usually water, to extract the flavour. The perfect example is tea, wherein you put tea leaves in heated water to extract flavour. “Steeping” as it pertains to vape juices is actually nothing like this. In fact, it’s more similar to the aging process used in winemaking, wherein the complex chemical reaction between sugars, acids and tannins over the time of aging can alter taste, colour and smell.
Which juices require steeping?
There’s generally two types of liquid.
The first is the simple shake-and-vape. Just add your base or nicotine, shake up the bottle, and it’s ready to vape. This is usually true of lighter flavours, like fruits and menthols. These don’t often require any period of steeping as the flavours blend together quickly. There are exceptions to this rule, but it’s mostly safe to vape a fruity flavour straight away.
The second type of liquid is one that requires steeping. Often these have thicker base flavours, like custards or creams, and top notes of fruity flavours. These taste different because they have multiple layers. Those layers need to mix together over time to create the flavour intended by the juicemaker. If you shake-and-vape a juice that needs steeping, you may only be getting certain flavour notes; usually, the thicker base flavours will be most prominent, often overpowering the top notes. These flavours are always better after at least a little bit of steeping.
How long do I need to wait?
This depends on the liquid, and unfortunately there’s no set rule. One juice may take 24 or 48 hours to steep; another might be best after two full weeks. It’s mostly a case of trial and error (or you could abide by the juicemaker’s guidelines).
We’ve encountered juices before that tasted pretty awful right off the bat, and we’ve often given up on them. We forgot about one juice and unintentionally steeped it for four months once; when we went back to it, the flavours had come out in an incredible way and the juice was delicious!
That juice was steeped using the ‘wait’ method. We left the juice with the cap on and didn’t touch it. But there’s many other methods to steeping, and ‘speed steeping’ methods are used by those of us too impatient to wait for the elements to blend naturally.
How to speed up your steep
There’s a lot of ways to speed up the steeping process. The best and most natural way to steep is to wait, and this can be quickened by leaving the cap off, leaving the bottle in a dark place, and occasionally shaking it. This will make a slow process slightly faster. If you want to speed it up further, here’s some tips:
- Run the bottles under hot water. This will thin the liquid elements of the juice, allowing them to blend quicker. Thicker juices require longer to blend together.
- Use a coffee thermos. Fill the thermos with boiled water, putting the cap on and leaving it to heat up for a good half hour. Pour out the water, put in your juice bottle, and put the cap back on. Leave it for a couple of hours and see how it’s going.
- Put it in a pot of water and boil. Fill up a pot with water, and put your juice bottle in a plastic bag. Turn the heat on to a very low setting, and check how the juice is going after a couple of hours. Make sure that you constantly monitor the pot as you’re using an active flame.
- Short bursts in the microwave. This one is most likely to alter the taste in a negative way if you use nicotine in your liquid, but could still be helpful for blending flavours. Make sure you only do short bursts – a second or two – each time.
- Ultrasonic waves. Heat is great, but there are other ways. If you have a heat setting on your ultrasonic cleaner, use it. If not, the agitation from the ultrasonic waves will blend your liquids quicker than not doing anything. It’s essentially replacing the ‘shaking’ from other methods.
Those are just some ways to speed up the process, and the basics of the steeping process. Steeping will almost always make a juice taste better, so if you’ve got the time, we recommend that you be patient and wait.
Have other steeping tips? Let us know in the comments below.