Why does my tea get bitter?
Tea contains a lot of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. One of those antioxidants is polyphenol which is one of the reasons why tea is so healthy. However, if the tea leaves release a lot of polyphenol into your cup the flavour of your tea will end up very bitter.
There is also a substance called methylxanthines which acts like a natural pest repellant in plants, this molecule is a source of bitter flavours.
Three reasons why your tea turns bitter
It is all about tea education, together we might be able to spread these facts so no one ever needs to drink bitter tea ever again.
So how can we make delicious healthy tea without the bitterness?
Avoid boiling water
Different types of tea need different types of water temperature when brewing due to how processed the tea leaves are. You can read more about Green, Black & White tea in our previous blogposts.
The leaves go through stages in the steeping process and if we for example brew the delicate green tea with boiling water the steeping process will go too fast and a big amount of the bitter notes will get released very fast in a short period of time which will end up giving us a bitter green tea.
Make sure to read which water temperature your tea needs before you brew.
Black te - 95-100°c
Green tea - 70 -80°c
White tea - 75 - 85°c
The best way is to have a little thermometer to make sure the water has the right temperature, but frankly, it's not often we walk around with a thermometer in our bag. A tip is to add 1-2 ice cubes or a 1/4- 1/3 of cold water to the boiling water before pouring it on the tealeaves. This will break the boiling point and bring the water temperature down to a more suitable temperature for green and white tea.
Don't let it brew too long
You might be brewing your tea for too long. Perhaps you pour your perfectly heated water on your delicate tea leaves but forget about the time you let it brew.
The ultimate brewing time is different for each tea, but most commonly it's between:
Green/white tea -2-3 minutes
Black tea - 3-5 minutes
Anything longer than that, and the tea leaves will release more bitter notes into the water than we prefer. Always check the package of your tea to see the ultimate brewing time for your tea.
Too much tea
Another mistake people make when brewing tea is measurements. They add too much tea to the amount of water they have, and even though they follow the correct brewing time, the tea is bitter after only a few moments.
The general recommendation is 1-2 tsp per 300ml water. This is, of course, a guide, not a rule. If you like stronger tea, add more leaves.
Just remember, it is all about balancing the taste of your tea.
Make sure to use good quality tea leaves. Paper teabags are filled with tiny particles that have been manufactured to give a quick, strong brew, not a quality cup of tea. When the tea leaves are like powder as most of the teabags are, the bitter notes will be released quicker.
So think about this:
- Brew your green and white tea in 60-80c° or cold brew it
- Let the tea brew between 2-3 minutes
- Don't use too much tea
- Buy good quality tea
Cold brewing tea draws no bitter notes into the tea compared to warm brewing, which results in a smoother, sweeter and more dynamic cup of tea.
Read how to cold brew tea here