Have you ever had the experience of brewing up a green tea only to have it come out tasting way too bitter or be so astringent that each gulp leaves you feeling like you have cottonmouth? Maybe you’ve even decided that you don’t like green teas because now you think that that is just the normal taste and texture of all green teas. Well, I’m here to let you know that your green teas don’t have to be overly bitter or astringent, and that in fact, there are some simple changes you can make when brewing your green tea that can radically improve its flavor and texture.
There are 2 brewing parameters in particular that most affect the level of bitterness and astringency in tea: temperature of the water and steeping time. Of course, these brewing parameters are important for all tea types, not just greens. However, many (not all) green teas are particularly prone to going bitter and/or getting too astringent when brewed at too high a temperature and/or infused for too long. So, if your green teas are turning out too bitter and/or too astringent, try the following 2 things to improve your green teas:
1. Decrease the water temperature
Most green teas do best when steeped at temperatures of around 70-85 C (158-185 F). So if you are brewing your green tea with boiling/near-boiling water, try decreasing the water temperature you are using to steep your green tea. If you don’t have a variable temperature kettle, or all you have access to is a boiling/near-boiling water (e.g., a dispenser on the coffee machine at the office), all you need is a little extra patience to get the water to the right temperature. Take the freshly boiled or dispensed near-boiling hot water and simply let it cool down before adding it to your tea; 3-4 minutes should put you in the right ballpark.
2. Decrease the steeping time
When brewing Western style (as opposed to using Japanese or Chinese/Gongfu brewing styles), most greens only need to be steeped for about 2 minutes. So if you are steeping longer than that, try decreasing the steeping time down to 2 minutes. If the level of bitterness and astringency is still too high, and you have already implemented Tip 1, you can try further decreasing the steeping time down to 1-1.5 minutes.
If after implementing the two tips above you feel like your tea has come out tasting weaker than you’d like, try increasing the amount of tea leaves you use for your brew with the same amount of water. Alternatively, you can try decreasing the amount of water used to steep the same amount of tea leaves (e.g., if you are using teabags which have a fixed amount of tea-leaf). This will increase the leaf to water ratio and thereby yield a more concentrated flavor.
Temperature and steeping time are the 2 brewing parameters that will have the biggest effect on the level of bitterness and astringency in your green tea, so if your greens are coming out too bitter or too astringent, try reducing one or both of the water temperature and the steeping time.
Thanks for reading! I really do hope the tips above help you improve the taste and texture of your green tea brews, and ultimately help you to achieve a blissful green tea drinking experience. And if they do, go ahead and hit the like button or let me know down in the comments. And be sure to share the tips from this post (or the post itself) with anyone else you know who may be struggling to brew up a delicious cup of green tea.
Already brewing up delicious cups of green tea? What’s your favorite green tea? And how do you brew it? Share down in the comments and let us know.
That’s it, tea drinkers. Until next time, keep enjoying the wondrous taste of tea! — Blake – the tea drinker behind Blake’s Tea Journal
- Mei, Don. TEA MASTERCLASS: How Does Brewing Temperature Affect the Taste of Tea?, YouTube, Mei Leaf, 18 Aug. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=361DcjIY-M0&list=PLAtdGF0-xVNbPbgkt9hh4hMnqji0RUNMK&index=6.
- Mei, Don. TEA MASTERCLASS: How Long Should You Brew Tea?, YouTube, Mei Leaf, 8 Sept. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Chsp9p4KRPI&list=PLAtdGF0-xVNbPbgkt9hh4hMnqji0RUNMK&index=5.