So you’ve brewed up a cup of your favourite green tea but you cannot understand why the tea tastes so bitter. This has happened to me so many times and I wished that I knew about the below so that I could brew better tea. Here are some tips that I found from consulting the tea wisdom around the interweb.
The water was too hot
As green tea is of a more delicate variety, if the water used to brew the tea is too hot, this often results in bitter tasting tea as the leaves are literally cooked or scalded. It seems the perfect temperature is enough to coax a gentle infusion. The recommended temperature for brewing green tea is approximately 75 – 80ºC / 167 – 176ºF (The Chinese Tea Shop).
But how do you determine the precise temperature if your equipment is rather basic? (as is mine!)
I use the rule that depending on the type of tea I will either use the boiling water straight from the kettle (black tea), let it cool for about a minute and a half for green tea and use a bit of trial and error with other types of tea.
Maybe one day I will be able to buy a kettle that tells me the precise temperature of the water within. Until then, let the trial and error continue.
You steeped the tea for too long
As well as water temperatures that are too hot, steeping the tea for too long or longer than the recommended brewing instructions, will also result in bitter tasting tea. According to The Fragrant Leaf,
“We recommend experimenting with a range of 1 – 3 minutes. Japanese green teas generally taste best at 1 – 2 minutes while Chinese green teas seem to prefer 2 – 3 minutes (the smaller leaves of Japanese teas will extract faster than the generally larger leaves of Chinese teas). Steeping time should be balanced with water temperature: the lower the temperature, the longer the tea can be steeped.”
I also found a great deal of information of the Shizuoka website about the different types of green tea and how each one should be treated/ brewed. The general consensus is that it should never be made with boiling water but that it should be brewed according to your own taste, reducing or increasing brewing time, amount of leaves used and the water temperature.
The water quality may have been compromised
It is recommended that filtered cold water is used to brew your tea although if you’re anything like most people, you probably don’t filter your tap water before adding it to your kettle. As tea is as good as the water with which it is brewed (as advised by tea sommelier Linda Gaylard in my Q&A with her), this is probably something that you want to pay more attention to when making your tea!
Tap water is fine until you start filtering your water for tea.
Do you have any green tea brewing tips?