I don’t mean to be a Negative Nancy with this post, but bad tasting tea can happen and it is not a fun experience. However, there are some reasons a tea can taste bad, and the blame should not be entirely on the tea itself. I recently hosted a tea workshop, and the biggest take away was that even though all tea comes from the same plant, there are different ways to prepare each type. For example, a common dislike among new tea drinkers is green tea because it always tastes bitter. There are some key tips to keep in mind when making green tea so that you will like it, but these tips are actually beneficial for any type of tea. If you have ever found yourself wondering why a certain tea tastes bad, take a further look into how the cup of tea was prepared.
I’m a big supporter of making tea however you like it, but this is where those tea making guides can come in handy. Before you write-off a certain tea for good, consider some of the points below to make a better cup!
The water you’re using might not be the best.
This isn’t usually something you think might affect your cup of tea, but it is essentially flavoured water, therefore lower quality water can result in bad tasting tea.
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Look at the purity and hardness of your water. The mineral content, chlorine and pH levels can affect both the flavour and aroma of the tea, even if its subtle.
Try filtering your water (tap water quality varies from place to place) or using spring water and see if you notice a difference. If you like the taste of your water though, then it might not be the culprit.
Also, if you just think your tea tastes bad because it is bitter, then it’s not so much about the pH levels in your water as it is about the temperature of your water.
The water you’re using might just be too hot.
One of the top reasons why people think their tea (especially green!) is super bitter is because of the temperature of their water. The right water temperature to use depends on the type of tea.
There are some tea leaves that are very delicate and can actually burn if the water is too hot. If that happens, then you may experience bitterness. Follow the temperature recommendation on the package of your tea.
Personally, I think a variable temperature kettle is a great investment when it comes to making great tea. You can set the temperature you need your water at, and not have to worry about it.
However, you can definitely still make great tea with a regular kettle. A cooking thermometer is an excellent and affordable tool to have on hand to make sure you heat water to the ideal temperature!
Your tea to water ratio might be off.
If you ever feel like your tea just tastes like hot water and you really can’t get any flavour, you may not have used enough tea leaves for the amount of water.
If you ever feel like your tea is way too strong, then you may have used too many leaves for the amount of water.
In some cases, like when it comes to cooking with tea, you can use more leaves than water, but that’s more for when you need to make a tea concentrate and not just a cup to drink.
The standard ratio is usually about 1 teaspoon of tea leaves to 1 cup of water. But, again, use the recommended amount the tea company suggests first as it may differ for teas.
To measure your tea, you can use a small scale (grams), or those handy “perfect” teaspoons.
You might be steeping your tea for too long.
How long you should steep a tea all depends on the type of tea. For instance, your green tea should not steep the same amount of time as your black tea.
I know some people prefer stronger tasting teas, but if you really want that then you would add more tea leaves, and not more time.
It’s important to not over steep your tea because when the tea leaves are over extracted it can result in that not so great taste.
I usually like to follow the suggested steeping time that the company the tea comes from recommends. Then, if I feel like that was too light, or too strong, I’ll adjust the time to my taste. Setting a timer might help, too!
The tea you’re using might just be bad.
It’s not you, it’s the tea. Just like there can be lower quality water there can be lower quality tea and not just from commercial tea bags.
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The materials used to make teabags can distort the taste of your tea and most teabags are filled with tea dust, but this doesn’t mean all loose leaf tea is the best. Purchase your tea from a reputable source, always.
Even if you think it is a high quality tea, there is a chance that it is just old. I don’t mean old as it’s unsafe to drink, just old enough to make it no longer fresh and possibly stale tasting.
Try finding the same tea from a different source and compare it to the one you don’t enjoy. Just because that one tea is of lower quality or went stale, doesn’t mean there is not another quality of it out there that will be better.
The tea might just not be for you!
Finally, if all of the tips above don’t apply, then as this point states, it may just not be your cup of tea.
I don’t like every single tea out there and I’m sure there are other regular tea drinkers that do not as well.
Over time your palate will develop, therefore, you should consider revisiting this tea in the future. Your thoughts on it just might change!
But, until then, set it aside and make yourself a cup of something you know you will take time to enjoy because that’s what tea is all about.
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Have you ever disliked a certain tea but now love it? Share your experiences in the comments below!