Here's Why Your Green Tea Tastes Bad

 

It seems like everyone is into green tea right now. Maybe that's because of all the hype about green tea's super powers: it’s a beauty aid, a digestive aid; it helps you lose weight, stay young, be more relaxed. With such magical properties, who wouldn’t want to drink green tea?

Despite a burning desire to drink green tea, most people don’t enjoy it. That makes sense because green tea is probably the most carelessly prepared tea in the US. If you have only had green tea that’s bitter, over-extracted or low-quality tea, you probably assume that’s how green tea is supposed to taste. To make matters worse, we tend think of green tea as medicine, and medicine is not supposed taste good, right? So, we continue to drink bad green tea because we believe it should taste bad, not because of improper brewing. And thus the cycle is complete: green tea continues to be brewed carelessly because no one expects it to taste good.

Let’s go through some green tea facts and fiction starting with how green tea should and should not taste.

1. green tea is naturally bitter

FALSE

Green tea that tastes bitter is either low quality or improperly brewed. Green tea is best-tasting when brewed with cooler water. In Japan and China, boiling water is used with super short steeping, 15-60 seconds. We recommend a simple system of brewing all teas for 4-5 minutes, and adjusting the water temperature for green tea. Lower temperature will result in a sweeter, non-bitter green tea. However, some people actually enjoy bitterness. Our brewing guide helps you make your green tea as sweet or bitter as you like it.

2. green tea is lower in caffeine than other teas

FALSE

It’s extremely hard to know the amount of caffeine in a cup of tea unless each individual brew is lab tested. Green tea can have as little as 7mg as much 48mg of caffeine per cup. Check out this comparison of major tea brands. Per liquid ounce of brewed tea, powdered matcha green tea has more caffeine than whole leaf tea because it is has more tea plant. Some green teas have more caffeine than black teas. The only way to control caffeine content, is to limit the number of cups you drink or to drink caffeine-free teas or tisanes without any tea plant in them. This article provides a thorough explanation of caffeine in tea.

3. green tea requires special brewing devices

FALSE

You can brew tea with simple tools like a one-cup infuser. You do not need fancy bowls, pots or whisks that are part of elaborate tea ceremonies.

4. it’s fine to leave green tea in your mug or teapot

FALSE

Leaving tea leaves in water past 4-5 minutes will lead to bitterness is most teas because more time puts more tannins. In green tea, longer steeping puts more chlorophyl in brewed tea, which is extremely bitter. Once you’ve extracted these bitter agents, there’s no going back. No amount of sugar or milk will get rid of that mouth-puckering taste.

5. good green tea has to be ceremonial grade

FALSE

The best green tea is made with whole leaf tea, with dry leaves that are actually green whether they're light or dark green leaves. Avoid leaves that are brownish, which can indicate staleness.

6. green tea will improve your mood

TRUE

All tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that acts as a relaxant. L-theanine also slows the absorption of caffeine into your blood stream. That means tea won’t give you the sharp energy highs and lows of other caffeinated drinks.

7. green tea is green in the cup

TRUE and FALSE

Some green teas appear green once they’re brewed, as many Japanese sencha and gyokuro teas do. Many green teas - from China, Taiwan, Korea, and roasted green teas - make a more yellowish liquid. The color of the brewed tea is not a reliable measure of quality in green tea.

 

Check out some of our favorite green tea blends: