Tea, although loved by many, is one drink that is often not prepared correctly. Hence you would find many individuals complaining about bitter or burnt taste in their tea.
Tea making is a work of great artistry but no rocket science.
If you are sick of your tea tasting bitter, there are a few easy steps you can take to brew that perfect cup of morning tea to kick start your day.
Why is my tea bitter?
Water temperatures to the amount of tea leaves used everything affects the taste of your tea. Hot water and more than necessary tea leaves can be one of the few reasons why your tea tastes bitter. Other reasons include but are not limited to contamination, longer steeping time, and old tea leaves.
Top 5 reasons for bitter tea
Everyone wants a good-tasting cup of tea first thing in the morning.
Unless you are a coffee lover, then a bitter-tasting tea might also be up your alley. There are several reasons why your tea is bitter. Let us take a look at the most obvious one.
Although most teas call for boiling water to be used, not all teas are brewed the same. What might be considered the ideal water temperature for brewing your Black tea won’t work for your Green tea.
Often people that drink Green tea for the first time complain of its bitter taste.
Green tea is not supposed to taste bitter. If yours is, then you are brewing it wrong. Brewing tea is extremely hot water that burns the tea leaves and leaves a bitter aftertaste.
The ideal temperature for brewing most teas is 195°F (90.5°C). In the case of black tea that gets bitter too quickly at higher temperatures, heating water to 160 °F (70 °C) will do the trick.
Quality of water
This is one of the factors which most people would not even care to think about but plays a major role in the bitterness of your tea.
Hard water and water with acidic or alkaline nature will impact the taste of your tea greatly.
Minerals like chlorine and potassium in your water can also be another reason for bitter tea. To avoid having bitter-tasting tea as a result of the water quality you are using, it is best to use a filter or use spring water instead.
Tea leaves to water ratio
The amount of tea leaves you use to brew tea can also impact its taste. The more tea leaves you use, the bitterer your tea will be. This is especially true for Black tea.
Black tea contains a compound called tannin.
Tannin is a plant polyphenol that leads to roughness and dryness in our mouths when drunk.
The level of tannin in black tea depends on the level of oxidation of the black tea. Logically speaking, the more tea leaves you use, the higher this compound will be in your tea.
The perfect ratio for the amount of tea leaves to be used varies upon the brewing time. In general, 1 teaspoon per cup of water is a safe amount. Teas like Gawain call for 3 grams per 100 mL of water.
Brewing tea for too long
Black tea leaves can tolerate high temperatures but require a shorter brewing time. The opposite is true for Green tea leaves. Green tea requires cooler water but a longer brewing time.
Brewing naturally bitter tea for more than 5-7 minutes will exponentially increase the bitter taste in your tea.
With shorter brew times, you eliminate the time for the bitter compound to steep into your tea, producing a sweeter cup of tea.
The time your brew your tea will depend on the type of tea you are making.
The more crushed the tea leaves are, the faster they will infuse as a general rule of thumb. Hence, they will require a shorter brewing time.
A time period of anywhere between 30 seconds to 1 minute can be considered ideal for brewing teas like Green tea. Alternatively, you can aim for multiple steeps but remember to completely remove the contents from your vessel.
Quality of tea leaves
Tea leaves that are not stored properly will often lose their flavor and aroma quickly and brew a bitter cup of tea.
Hence it is important to store your tea leaves properly to avoid the quality from dropping.
Try to aim for tea leaves rather than tea bags for brewing tea.
Teabags are usually made of tea fanning, otherwise also known as “dust”, that is essentially leftover from tea production, which is eventually bagged.
These tea bags got stale quite quickly, and since each tea leaf in the tea bag is crushed, they infuse faster than loose leaf teas, which are whole.
Try to aim for loose leaf teas or tea brands with premium quality tea bags that aren’t packaged in cardboard boxes.
Does Black tea always taste bitter?
Black teas, in general, a more bitter than regular tea. However, the bitterness is enhanced not only by the preparation methods but also by factors like the harvesting season and production method.
Black tea that is harvest in early spring has a deeper and more variant flavor profile as compared to the ones that are harvested in the fall months.
The second factor, which is the level of oxidization of the leaves, is another important reason for bitterness when brewing Black tea.
Oxidization increases tea leaves’ bitterness, but other production methods like roasting the tea leaves remove the bitter compounds from the leaves and produce a more sweet and full tea.
Frequently Asked Question about bitter tea
Does higher caffeine content cause the tea to become bitter?
The caffeine content in your tea and bitterness has a direct correlation. Hence, the more the caffeine content in your tea, the bitterer it will be.
What Black teas do not taste bitter?
Black teas, in general, will have a bitter taste due to the oxidization process. If you would like a tea with slightly less bitterness, partially oxidized tea like Oolong makes for a great alternative.