How Can I Make My Tea not Bitter?

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Some people love bitterness, some distain it. While the tea plant naturally has components that add bitterness, no tea has to taste bitter. It all comes down to how you make your pot of tea. This posting assumes one thing you can always assume with us…it’s loose leaf tea. (Nothing against tea bag tea, just we don’t work with it  😉

If a tea is of good quality, no matter your preference, there is still the opportunity to enjoy any tea.  When making tea at the Teahouse, we always try to thread the line of bringing out the character of the tea before hitting the point where bitterness comes in and takes over (therefore losing its character).
There are 4 basic ways to control how your tea tastes:
1. amount of leaf
2. size of teapot/mug
3. steeping time
4. water temperature

The beautiful thing about making tea is that you have a lot of control over what ends up in your cup. Adjusting any of these 4 variables can give you quite a different cup. If you tend to like sweetness and not astringency, cooling the water can go a long way…and it allows you to have longer steeping time so you still can get a full bodied cup. Just pour freshly boiled water into a pitcher or cup first, then over the leaf. This can cool the water 5-10C and can make a big difference. It’s become common practice in China and Taiwan, where high quality black teas are brewed with more delicacy than most others! (in the gongfucha method).

With that said, some teas are more predisposed to getting bitter than others, especially in the realm of black tea.








So, here’s a few recommendations for black teas that are more on the sweet side, and less likely to get bitter.

Or of course, you could always add milk and/or sugar 🙂

Early Spring Golden Strand

(you’ll notice almost all of them are large leaf…not coincidental! Small broken leaf has more surface area, so brews faster (therefore getting bitter quicker)

…also all are heavier oxidized, because lighter oxidized tend to have more tannins)

2 thoughts on “How Can I Make My Tea not Bitter?

  1. When I make tea, I make sure that it is not too bitter, and not too mild. I make sure to steep it until it is ripe in color. I am a big fan of stone leaf teahouse and Dobra tea house. I am an avid tea drinker. A tip: watch the color of the tea until it is ripe, then pour it out.

  2. Great point Will! Seeing the color of the infusion is a great way to tell the strength…just takes a bit of practice to know the “right” hue for one’s own taste! It’s also a nice part of using glassware, and really one of the reasons why we use it so much at the teahouse. It’s beautiful to see the color, and practical too!

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