What Makes Tea Bitter?

Tea, a beloved drink globally, grows in popularity each year. 

However, there is a common question casual tea drinkers may ask: what makes my tea bitter?

The primary elements causing tea’s bitter flavor are:

  • Catechins: These substances are a class of polyphenols in tea leaves. While they provide antioxidant benefits, they can also lead to a bitter taste. Use cooler water when brewing your tea to minimize bitterness, as high temperatures can extract more catechins.
  • Tea type: Different types of tea have varying levels of bitterness due to the processing methods they undergo. For instance, black teas are typically more bitter than green teas. To avoid bitterness, opt for less bitter tea varieties or experiment with different tea types to find the one that suits your taste.
  • Steeping time: Oversteeping tea can result in a bitter taste. To avoid this, follow the recommended steeping time for the specific tea you’re brewing.
  • Too many tea leaves: Too many tea leaves may yield an overpowering, bitter taste. To prevent this, use the correct quantity of tea leaves per cup (about 1 teaspoon for 8 ounces of water) and modify it to suit your taste.
  • Tea quality: Lower-quality teas tend to have higher levels of bitterness. To reduce bitterness, choose high-quality, loose-leaf teas from reputable suppliers.
  • Water quality: The quality of water used for brewing can impact the taste of tea. For instance, hard water can cause increased bitterness in tea. To avoid this, use filtered or bottled water when brewing your tea.
Black tea

Final Thoughts

Tea is a flexible, pleasurable drink, yet its bitterness can sometimes be unappealing. By understanding the factors contributing to bitterness and following the tips provided, you can make your tea less bitter and savor the delightful flavors this popular beverage offers.

If your tea is not just bitter but has an overall off taste, there can be other reasons why it tastes bad.


Is Black Tea Bitter?

Black tea’s bitterness results from elevated catechin levels and the oxidation it experiences. However, the bitterness can be reduced by using cooler water, steeping for the recommended time, and selecting high-quality, loose-leaf black tea.

Is Green Tea Bitter?

Green tea can also be bitter, although typically less so than black tea. The presence of catechins contributes to its bitterness. To reduce bitterness in green tea, use cooler water, steep for a shorter time, and opt for high-quality, loose-leaf green tea.

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