You brew yourself a nice cup of tea. Maybe it's the end of a long day, or maybe the beginning of one. Either way, you are looking forward to that warm cup of steaming tea.
You taste it, but it's bitter. Disappointment and damage control comes next. You try to cover the bitterness with milk, loads of milk. Maybe even a bit of honey as well.
Does that sound familiar? It does to me.
This was me just a few years ago, and it took me a while to figure out how to brew my teas properly. Although I still drink my black tea with milk and honey, it's for the sake of taste, not repair of a badly brewed tea.
In this post, I will go over the most common reasons for bitter tea, focus mainly on green tea.
Three reasons why your tea turns bitter
I had such a problem with drinking green tea back in the day. It was bitter and, frankly, the horrible thing for me.
Now that I look back at how I use to brew green teas I know that it wasn't the tea's fault (most of the time), it was mine.
So how can you brew yummy healthy green tea?
I think a lot of people (including myself back in the day) use too hot water when brewing green tea, we let the water boil up to 100c°and then we pour it into the delicate green tea leaves and expect it to taste delicious straight away. This is a big "NOO, don't do it!" The water actually needs to be between 70-80c°. This way the foreplay with the tea leaves and water starts. You see, the leaves go through stages in the steeping /brewing process and when its in with the boiling hot water it goes to stage 100 straight away where it releases the tannin in the leaves which give the bitter notes.
So conclusion - Always brew your green & white tea in 70-80c° if nothing else states on the packaging.
You might be brewing it too long. Perhaps you pour your perfectly heated water on your delicate tea leaves, stand there for 30 seconds and then you remember something you had to do. The next time you remember about it is 15 minutes later when it's barely lukewarm and bitter.
The ultimate brewing time is different for each tea, but most commonly it's between 2-3 minutes. Anything longer than that, and the tea leaves will start releasing tannin into the water, which is the culprit behind the bitter taste. Always check the package of your tea to see that is the ultimate brewing time for the type you have.
Some people treat tea like coffee. They think, "Let's just pour some tea leaves into the pot. It should be about as much as we use for our coffee, right?". Well, not quite.
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 to out 1-2 tsp per 300ml water. This is, of course, a guide, not a rule. If you like stronger tea, add more leaves to your pot. Just remember it all about balancing the taste of your tea.
Make sure to use good quality tea leaves. Often (not always) the bagged tea is the crumbs of tea leaves broken in the manufactory. When the tea leaves become like powder as you would notice most of the tea bag tea is, the tannin will be released quicker and a lot of the good health benefits will be missing.
So think about this:
- Brew your green and white tea in 70-80c° or cold brew
- Let the tea brew between 2-3 minutes
- Don't use too much tea
- Buy good quality tea