Why is my tea bitter?


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Why is my tea bitter?

Postby hooksie » Jan 15th, '09, 00:30

Alright, so I'm pretty new to tea drinking. I've done a fair bit of research online but something is still not right, many times my tea comes out bitter after steeping even following what seem to be the general rules of thumb. (I notice it the most with the coconut and mango flavored teas).

I steep about 2 (more like 1 and 3/4) teaspoons of looseleaf per cup with boiling water for about 4 minutes. I hear water quality can affect the taste; I use water from my tap which is purified through a water softener in our basement (cant be bypassed).

Any suggestions for a less bitter cup?
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Postby scruffmcgruff » Jan 15th, '09, 00:43

The three main factors in brewing are time, water temperature, and leaf quantity. It sounds like you're using a reasonable amount of leaf, so don't change that (unless nothing else works). What kind of tea are you brewing? If it is a flavored green or white tea, you should definitely lower the water temperature to something like 170-180. Otherwise, try brewing for a shorter period of time, maybe 3 minutes. If neither of those works by itself, cut back on both.

Welcome to TeaChat, by the way!
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Postby hooksie » Jan 15th, '09, 00:51

I noticed when I infused a second cup of a black flavors tea blend a second time earlier tonight the cup didn't come out bitter at all - and I don't recall doing anything different from the first infusion. I read something on the forums here about rinsing through the leaves first with hot water would help alleviate bitterness?

Is this true or am I just imagining reading things? :lol:
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Postby Cinnamon Kitty » Jan 15th, '09, 01:01

Try steeping for less time. I noticed that a few of the flavored teas that I tried got very bitter at the four minute mark, but were much tastier with a 3 minute steep.

If I remember correctly, there was something about a quick rinse of certain teas, like the chocolate flavored black, that helped reduce the bitterness of the tea. That might also be something to try.
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Postby kymidwife » Jan 15th, '09, 01:03

On flavored blacks, I go alittle less on tea (no more than 1 heaping tsp/6-8oz) and I have *never* been a believer in those long 4 and 5 minute infusions... I always go less... 1.5 to 3 minutes max on first infusion with boiling water. You just have to play with it and see what works to suit your palate. The nice thing about the shorter infusions is, you usually can get multiple infusions.

If you enjoy the 2nd infusion more than the firsts, go alittle shorter on time, and if it's still too strong/bitter, sometimes I will cool/dilute/sweeten the 1st infusion for iced tea and drink the 2nd one hot and unsweetened. Whatever works for you.

Sarah
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Postby hooksie » Jan 15th, '09, 01:04

Many thanks to all three of you.

Here's to a good cup tomorrow morning. :)
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Postby Victoria » Jan 15th, '09, 01:23

It could be that a lot of fannings and dust are coming through on the first steep. And not on the second. What type of filter and vessel are you using? Small pieces and dust can make their way into the cup and continue to "brew" if not strained out properly. That can be a problem with some finer leaf teas. And typically most flavored teas have finer leaf pieces and are not the best quality to start with.

Another question - are you increasing the time on the second steep? You should be, so if you are not, then that equates to less concentration and a milder steep.

And I agree - don't go over 3 mins on the first steep.

:)
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Postby hooksie » Jan 15th, '09, 01:33

Victoria wrote:It could be that a lot of fannings and dust are coming through on the first steep. And not on the second. What type of filter and vessel are you using? Small pieces and dust can make their way into the cup and continue to "brew" if not strained out properly. That can be a problem with some finer leaf teas. And typically most flavored teas have finer leaf pieces and are not the best quality to start with.

Another question - are you increasing the time on the second steep? You should be, so if you are not, then that equates to less concentration and a milder steep.

And I agree - don't go over 3 mins on the first steep.

:)


I am using an Ingenuitea, and that second steep I mentioned previously was the same length as the first, but the second much better.
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Postby Sydney » Jan 15th, '09, 09:01

Next time, it might be worth trying a meaningfully shorter first infusion, then back to a second infusion closer to the brewing parameters that produced the better second cup for you.

It's not unusual at all for tea to change quite a bit from one infusion to the next.
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Postby hooksie » Jan 15th, '09, 17:49

Success!
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Postby kymidwife » Jan 15th, '09, 17:54

Sweet! I'm glad you had a successful brewing. But of course, now I am curious as to what parameters worked for you. :D

Sarah
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Postby hooksie » Jan 15th, '09, 18:00

kymidwife wrote:Sweet! I'm glad you had a successful brewing. But of course, now I am curious as to what parameters worked for you. :D

Sarah


I left my tea/water ratio the same as well as the water temperature.

I poured about 6 ounces of 150° F water and swirled it around with the tea in the ingenuitea for about 15 seconds. I emptied that water then steeped my tea for 3 minutes (as opposed to 4).

Added sugar and enjoyed.
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Postby Intuit » Jan 26th, '09, 19:55

Yeah, tea washing usually works, as does a shorter infusion. 150 degrees is pretty cool for an black tea, so no doubt you reduced the extraction efficiency.

Try washing, using the 3 minutes at a slightly warmer temp, maybe 180 degrees, and report back.

Also would help to know what the flavoring is - maybe it extracts more quickly than the tea liquor itself, so that it imparts a bitter flavor (like the relatively nonvolatile fatty ester chocolate flavoring).

Hadn't thought about the fannings angle that Victoria mentions, but its got to have an impact on bitterness, because it remains in the extract after the tea filter is removed. Good point. Helps explain why very finely leaved teas tend to yield a bitter cup at under typical brewing conditions (3-4 minutes) at normal infusion strength - look for the dregs at the bottom of your teacup.
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