Is Green Tea Supposed To Be Bitter?

green tea leaves

Why Doesn't my Green Tea Taste Good?

Green tea is supposed to taste good, right? Everyone says it's so good for you, it tastes amazing, and then you have a cup and it tastes...bad. Like really bitter. Is it supposed to bitter?

The easy answer is: no.

Green tea IS delicious, it's just delicate. So if your green tea is not to your liking, here's a few things to try.

The Right Way to Brew Green Tea

The two major reasons why green tea will taste bitter is because:
      1. the water temperature is too hot (e.g. boiling instead of say 175°F), and/or
      2. the tea has steeped too long, (e.g. 6 minutes instead of say 3 minutes).

        How to Enjoy Green Tea

        First, make sure to read the instructions on your tea packaging. A good tea brand will specify steeping directions. Next, consider:

        Using the Right Water Temperature for Green Tea
        If you don’t have the directions on hand, a good temperature range for green tea is 160°F to 175°F. If you don’t have a tea kettle with a variable temperature setting or a thermometer, watch until tiny bubbles start to appear, then take the water off the heat. If you find that the flavor is too weak, you can try upping the temperature. Some green teas withstand higher temperatures, up to 185°F.

        Keeping Your Steep Times short
        Once you've poured hot water over your tea, start a timer. You can try steep times  at 2 min, 3 min, and 4 min. A good quality loose leaf tea will give you multiple infusions per serving. That means you can steep the tea for a few minutes, remove the tea leaves, enjoy your cup of tea, then reheat water and repeat the process. (For enjoying multiple infusions, we recommend a loose leaf infuser with a drip dish like this one, which makes it easy to set aside and save for later.)

        When you taste your green tea made with hot but not boiling water, and it's not oversteeped, you may be surprised by the flavor. It will depend on what kind of green tea it is, but green teas offer a range of flavor notes, from sweet to floral to smoky to grassy.

        Fixing Your Green Tea To Taste Better

        How to make your bitter tea better: If you've found you've accidentally oversteeped your tea and it's getting that astringent taste, there are a couple quick fixes.

        1. Add a little more hot water to the overly strong tea in your cup. This should dilute the tannins and other polyphenols, which cause green tea to taste bitter. 

        2. You can add a bit of honey, which balances out the bitter with sweetness and also makes the flavors come alive a bit.

        3. You can also try it with a bit of lemon, which has a light acidity and sweet undertone that can brighten up the more vegetal notes of green tea.

        Lastly, make sure you use fresh, well-stored tea. Tea that is stale will not yield the most pleasant taste. Sunlight, moisture, and air all make tea go stale.

        If You Want to Like Green Tea...

        Keep trying different tea flavors and steeping methods. Play around with temperatures and steep times until you find what worksthere are no wrong answers! And know that a method that works for one kind of green tea may have a different result for a different green tea. There's a whole huge world of tea out there!

        Our Serenity Jasmine Green Tea is a good introductory tea to experiment with, as it is on the more robust side of green teas and can tolerate higher temperatures. We recommend steeping 1 teaspoon at 180°F for 3 minutes. It gives generously for two infusions. It also makes a fantastic iced tea, particularly using the cold brew method explained here.