March 4

Why Does My Tea Taste Bitter? 7 Ways to Improve The Flavor of Your Tea

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Finally, your tea comes out of the pot and with great anticipation, you take the first sip. Next, all you can taste is a terribly bitterness! :S Result that probably leaves you wondering why does my tea taste bitter?

In this article we will explore what are the factors that influence the flavour of your favourite, From the quality of the leaves to the quality of the water–I never knew how important it actually is!

If you are just starting, it is a good idea to first brew tea according to the processor’s instructions, in order to achieve the best flavour.

This is because, the tea manufacturers want their tea to taste good, and they are experts, so you can rely on them to provide decent instructions.

At least at the beginning – once you become more familiar with tea and what you like, you can adjust according to taste.

1. Tea Storage

The way you store your tea also has could have an impact in the flavour it will produce.

For instance, storing tea improperly could result in the loss of some of the flavour notes of the leaves.

This is usually due to excessive exposure to light and moisture which degrades tea quality. That being said it is probably least reason why your tea tastes bitter. 

The easiest solution is to store your teas in appropriate tins or canisters or containers. If you would like to dive deeper into the best practices to store your tea check out the article I wrote about The Best Way to Store Loose Leaf Tea at Home & Step Up Your Storage Game.

2. Water temperature

Different teas should be brewed in water at different temperatures. 

It may seem absurd to you that a fairly small temperature change could make a difference, but it in the world of tea this is a fact. This is because the bitter components in tea (caffeine and polyphenols) are extremely soluble in boiling and very hot water.  So you might want to keep that in mind the next time you are using a rolling boiling water to brew your tea.

Try catching the kettle before it reaches a full boil, or let it cool before putting water in with the tea. Another way is by using a kettle with temperature settings that allows you be precise about the temperature of the water for your tea.

Some people get their water from a coffee machine or a water boiler the problem with this is that, it’s probably either very stale water(water that is re-boiled over a long time has all the suspended oxygen boiled out of it which ruins the taste) or too cold for black tea for example.

Here are the recommended brewing temperatures for different teas according to The UK Tea Academy

  • Black teas: 95°-98°C
  • Yellow teas: 75°-80°C
  • Green teas: 70°C
  • Oolong teas: 90°C
  • White teas: 80°C
  • Puerh teas 95°-98°C

3. Brewing time

Different types of teas should be steep at different temperatures.

Do not over steep your tea. Generally speaking, the longer you brew tea, the more tannins will be released and the bitterer the tea will be.

As an example I brew my strong black teas for 4 minutes, too long and it gets far too bitter for my taste.

If you suspect that the brewing time is the reason why your tea taste bitter then try shortening each infusion by a minute and see if it helps with the flavour.

4. Chemical Compounds

Bitterness in tea comes from tannins, not from any particular tea leaf.

Tannins are a class of astringent, polyphenolic biomolecules found in a variety of plant-based foods and beverages, including tea. This compound is present in most types of teas and in different the quantities.

Bitterness in tea comes from tannins, not from any particular tea leaf.

Tannins are polyphenols that responsible for colour and astringency in your tea. Black, oolong and green teas contain the most amount of tannins.

Why does my tea taste bitter?

5. Quality of the water

Water, which makes up to 99% or more of a cup of tea, is an often-overlooked ingredient that has a huge impact on the taste, aroma and appearance of every cup. Simply put, bad water will equal a bad cup of tea.

According to the Tea Association of the USA, this is the ideal tea water analysis:

  • 6 – 8 pH
  • 50 – 150 ppm TDS (Total Dissolved Solids)
  • 80 ppm total hardness
  • No chlorine, iron, and magnesium

The UK Tea Academy released a report on the research of many different teas and many different kinds of water, the paper aims to provide the ideal water specification needed to make the best teacup.

The report goes into the science behind the composition of water and it molecular estructure to explain how each component influences the final taste of your tea.

You can find the full report here

6. Quality & Amount Of Tea

Why does my tea taste bitter?

Every time a leaf is broken its nutrients are degraded causing bitterness, tea leaves often break because they are harvested by machine. Therefore, loose leaf tea that is hand-harvested tea results in a smoother delicious cup of tea 

You might think that is a good idea to cram your infuser full of tea leaves. However, The UK Tea Academy suggests the following ratio:

The quantity of tea used should be 2.5-3grams to 200ml of water.

If too much tea is used, the brew will be stronger than recommended; if too little tea is used, the brew will be thin and weak.

7. Personal taste

In the end, it’s really a personal choice. Some people love the astringency taste in their tea, but some can’t take it.

Keep in mind that this is YOUR tea journey. Always experiment to find your perfect brew and enjoy it.

Can you fix it?

If after tasting your tea, you are not satisfied with the result here are some tips to mitigate the bitter notes:

Add milk: If it is too bitter, try putting in enough milk to make it look a dark tan colour.

Add water: You can simply add some extra water on top, it will not diminish the desirable fragrance, just reduce bitterness. In fact, Russian samovar tea is blended by mixing super concentrated black tea with water.

References

1.https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/tannins-in-tea

2.https://worldteanews.com/tea-business-resources/the-deliciousness-of-umami-in-tea-explained

3.https://redblossomtea.com/blogs/red-blossom-blog/what-makes-tea-bitter#:~:text=Methylxanthines,in%20the%20growing%20tea%20plant.

About the author

I'm Su, a tea enthusiast, long-term traveler, business strategist, and furry mom of two. I'm on this journey to learn the "right" and the "wrong" ways to tea, to ask the "dumb" questions, to hear the stories about people & their connection to tea & to find ways to incorporate it into my life. The Tea Tasting Club is all about tea & product reviews, tea recipes, and providing helpful tea information.


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