Troubleshoo-tea| Why does my green tea taste bitter?

troubleshootea - green tea - bitter.png

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.”

~The Fragrant Leaf

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.

Infusion time
Photo Credit: Shizuoka Tea

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?

Jam xx


The Fragrant Leaf
The Vintage Tea Company
The Chinese Tea Shop
Perfect South
Shizuoka Tea



15 thoughts on “Troubleshoo-tea| Why does my green tea taste bitter?

  1. Hi, thanks for this post, it’s been very informative!
    I recently bought a Tsuyuhikari Shincha from Adagio Teas, which was quite an expensive one. However after trying it for the first time it really wasn’t anything like I hoped!
    Next time I make a cup of it I’ll definitely follow your advice, it might help me review my teas properly on my blog; http://teaandthat.com/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rory! Welcome to the blog. Loving your blog by the way so thanks for stopping by here 🙂 Shincha sounds pretty good. Sorry it wasn’t to your initial liking. Hopefully you’ve tweaked your brewing methods so you prefer it better now?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I love sweetening my tea…not too much, just a tiny amount to enhance the flavours (perhaps purists would argue that it detracts from the flavour; but it’s about brewing to taste, right?) Honey? Nice touch!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello there! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I was exactly the same. I couldn’t understand why my tea was so jarring on my tastebuds. I’m glad its been useful to you! 🙂 Let me know how you get on!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. After my variable temperature kettle started playing up, I managed to resurrect it by the cunning use of a digital meat thermometer, which ironically now means I’m now heating water for green tea more accurately (to within 1 deg. C tolerance) than I was before it went West…

    Liked by 1 person

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