Revealed: What’s behind the Bitter Taste of your Green Tea?



It’s fair to say that green tea is certainly an acquired taste. Some people love the taste of it, while others are turned off by it. It’s rare to find someone who enjoys the first cup of green tea they ever try. That first cup of green tea is often considered tasteless or – if there is a taste – bitter. 

It could take a few brews for the new green tea drinker to adjust their palate to the bitter taste of green tea tannins. Try having some more green tea before you give it up altogether. It could change your opinion! 

The reason that green tea is so bitter is because of the way in which the tea is made. Green tea is different from oolong and black tea in that it is made from unfermented tea leaves. This means that green tea has more antioxidants, but it’s also bitterer as a result. 

There are also several other potential reasons that your green tea tastes bitter. 

1. You’re Drinking Poor Quality Tea

The lower the quality of the tea leaves, the more likely they are to produce a bitter taste. Black and green tea in particular is more likely to be bitter when using poor quality tea leaves. 

Tea bags are often made using the fine dust of tea leaves. It makes brewing a cup of teach much quicker, and is the reason tea bags are the popular choice of those on the move. However, tea bags also tend to use low quality tea leaves, which means that you are left with a bitter flavor if you don’t brew it properly. 

The solution is to use loose leaf tea bags. When you make green tea using high quality loose leaves it tastes so much better than bagged tea leaves. Organic green tea is also a good choice to ensure high quality.

2. The Tea is Burned

One reason that green tea tastes bitter is because it has been burnt. It’s likely that you’re steeping the green tea in boiling water. The solution is to leave the water or a few minutes before adding and infusing the tea leaves. Tea should be brewed at 180°F for the ideal taste. A thermometer can help you get the temperature just right. 

3. You Don’t Store the Tea Properly

The light, air, and moisture levels can play a big role in the quality of your tea, so it’s important to store it properly. Light degrades tea and takes the flavor and color out of tea leaves. Tea leaves can also absorb the odors of the foods around them, so store them away from strong-smelling foods. 

Moisture is a problem because it makes tea go bitter and – if exposed to too much moisture – tea becomes not consumable. 

The solution is to store green tea in an air-tight, opaque container such as a metal tin, and keep it away from other foods. Green tea should never be stored in a damp place.

4. You’re Steeping It Too Much

The amount of time green tea needs to steep for can vary with the kind of green tea, but a clear sign that you’ve steeped your tea for too long is that it tastes bitter. Many people tend to over-steep their tea because they feel that it’s not green enough, and that it looks too watery to them.

The solution is to experiment with steeping tea for different amounts of time until you have the ideal tea for you. Green tea generally takes 2-3 minutes to steep. Try tasting your tea after a minute to see how it tastes. If there is a bit of a bitter taste then it’s time to strain the tea. If you think it could do with some more flavor, then let it steep for another minute and try tasting it again until you get it right.

Don’t forget to consult the steeping instructions the manufacturer provides. They are the experts after all.

5. You Overdo it With The Tea Leaves

We understand that you want to get all the positive health benefits of green tea as you can, but green tea tastes bitter when you use too many loose tea leaves.

As a general rule of thumb, you should use only one teaspoon of tea per 8oz of water in the cup. This is also a case where your personal preference is important. So don’t be afraid to experiment until you get the right amount of green tea for your tastes.

General Tips for a Great Cup of Green Tea

  • Try Using a Little Sweetener

While green tea is traditionally consumed without sweeteners, you could always try putting some sugar – or any other kind of sweetener – into your green tea to enhance the flavor. It could take nothing more than a drop of honey to make the green tea more palatable. Stevia and agave syrup is also worth a try.

  • A Little Bit of Lemon

For some people there’s no better way to enhance the flavor of green tea than a little splash of lemon. The citrus in the fresh lemon juice gives balance to the bitterness and powers up the perfume. This combo of green tea and lemon can be enjoyed with or without sweetener. Give your morning green tea a squeeze of lemon and, if necessary, a little bit of sweetener.

  • Marvelous Mint

Green tea with mint is a staple drink in Morocco, and many people consider offering your guest some mint green tea as a common courtesy. Mint green tea is often sweetened too. There are many tea blends on the market that mimic this pairing, but you could also just add your own sprig or 2 of spearmint to green tea before pouring in the hot water.

  • Flavorings

While flavorings such as warm spices are commonly used with black tea, they can also work great with green tea. Ginger is a great choice for green tea because it rounds out the flavor so perfectly. Cinnamon is another good choice, as is cardamom. The Chinese traditionally combine their green tea with jasmine, and no meal of dim sum is complete without jasmine green tea. Dried jasmine flowers can be combined with any tea to create your own unique blend.

  • Iced Green Tea

Even though black tea is commonly used to make iced tea, there is growing demand for iced green tea. Green tea tastes less better when it is iced, which creates a flavor that more people find agreeable. There are some who consider the flavor of iced green tea to even be a little muted. Combining iced green tea with mint, orange, lemon or ginger can compensate for this. If a flavoring works well with hot green tea, then it will work wonders with iced green tea. Iced green tea can be served with or without sweetener.

Now you know how to brew a perfect cup of green tea, start your journey of green tea with Nanami's Green Tea Zen Set today :)