Why does my green tea taste bad?

Green tea

Help! My green tea tastes bitter. Photo by Kanko*.

Earlier this year, I spent some time browsing Yahoo! Answers to see what kinds of questions people had about tea. One of the most common questions I came across was this: “I know green tea is supposed to be healthy, so I’m drinking it – but why does it taste so bad?”

I’m no statistician, but I’d hazard a guess that nine times out of ten it comes down to how you’re making your green tea. More specifically, it depends on the temperature of the water you’re using.

If you pour boiling water over your green tea – be it in a tea bag or in loose leaf form – chances are that the tea’s astringency will dominate, leaving you with the impression that green tea is awfully bitter. So if you’d prefer to avoid a bitter cup,
either wait five minutes after the water has boiled, or stop your kettle before it reaches boiling point.

There are, of course, many other ways of improving the flavour of your tea – but take this as a starting point.

Similar posts about green tea:

Green teas I’ve reviewed:

Discussion

  • 1

    Yup. When people tell me that they “hate” green tea, I always ask them if they make it with boiling water. Most of the time, the answer is yes, so I encourage them to use cooler water.

    To be fair, green tea can be an acquired taste, but you are still quite correct about the water temperature.

  • 2

    That’s weird, I never knew that about tea! Thank you, I always love green tea at restaurants but never make it myself because it tastes gross. Maybe I’ll start making it.

  • 3

    I wrote a blog post about exactly the same topic since it’s one to come up so often.
    To add to your recommendation, I believe that tea quality is another important factor in disliking green tea.

    BTW, you can lower the astringency of ANY tea by brewing at a cooler temperature (you went through that exercise when you brewed some of the Darjeelings I sent you).

    I’m impressed that you find the time to maintain your blog, being a new father…

  • 4

    Honey > sugar.

  • 5

    Most green tea is also treated with a chemical to dry it out or treat it or something(I forget what exactly) So what I usually do is soak it in some hot water first to wash off the chemical residue and then after a couple of minutes drain the water and then add boiling water.

  • 6

    From working in a tea shop, I know a few tricks about green tea. Never steep the tea in the water for more than 2 minutes, and the water should never be hotter than 175 F. Also, if you would like your green tea decaffeinated, steep it for a minute, dump the water, then steep again for 2 minutes.

  • 7

    Once I learned that only Black Teas really survive boiling water with their flavor intact I stopped using boiling water for all of my teas. I usually wait around till I hear the beginnings of the boiling and pull the kettle.

  • 8

    also, it ruins the flavor to add the tea into the water and then boil it (or near boil it) so add the tea after you take the water off and stopped the boil.

  • 9

    hello!

    I recently bought a tea cake from Yunnnan tea factory, it is a puerh tea. When I brewed the tea it tasted salty! I was wondering if you can give me any advice as to how to improve the taste of my tea and perhaps a reason to why it is …salty!

    Thank you!

  • 10

    To Betty: Maybe there is spunk in your tea?

  • 11

    I found that if you leave the teabag in for more than a minute or 2 it starts becoming bitter. I usually take my teabag out after a minute or so and even if I have used boiling water it doesn’t taste bitter. Just try not to leave the teabag in to long. I dont use loose-leaf green tea but I’m guessing it would work similarily.

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