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As with many things in life, your first experience with green tea may not have been a positive one. Many people enjoy green tea, be it Chinese, Japanese or green tea from New Zealand. Is it an acquired taste?
If you are reading this article there is a good chance you have had a negative experience with green tea recently. Now you are wondering whether you need to get used to green tea or if green tea generally tastes bad? You will find the answers here.
SHORT ANSWER – The Taste Of Green Tea
The taste of green tea is very dependent on the type of green tea you choose. Japanese green tea tends to be vegetal, grassy and umami in taste and Chinese green tea will be sweeter with some types tasting like nuts and others developing some bitterness. Good green tea does not take getting used to!
Your experience with green tea may be limited to only a few teas. Maybe you have not even tried loose leaf tea yet? There are plenty of ways to experience better green tea and reasons why your tea could be tasting awful. I want to explain some of them here.
Acquiring A Taste For Green Tea
Green tea has various forms and taste profiles. If you have had one or a few negative experiences, that should not keep you from trying good green tea.
Green tea can taste bitter and harsh if you get your brewing parameters wrong. That is a mistake that you should easily be able to correct. But there is also a chance that you have been using tea that does not get better. With low-quality tea, you will never have a great experience.
How To Find Green Tea You Like
I would recommend you try different green teas that represent different regions, production methods or taste profiles. This way, you may find a green tea you truly enjoy.
Furthermore, you should experiment with brewing vessels, methods, and parameters. While some will enjoy a mild green tea more than a strong brew, you might think it tastes like nothing. There are numerous ways of making tea and most of them will yield you a unique tea.
Also, be more mindful about the tea you drink. You may like drinking tea while working, reading or watching TV. But this way you will not experience your tea to the fullest.
Take a minute or two to smell, taste and appreciate the tea in your cup. Notice the nuances in taste and try to name what you taste. This way you will enjoy your tea much more!
Drinking High-Quality Green Tea
The most prominent reason for bad experiences with green tea is low quality, bagged green tea. Tea in tea bags is always crushed and broken to some extent and will exhibit more bitterness and tannins like you find in red wine. This can easily result in awful taste!
If you want to experience good green tea, you will need to try high-quality loose leaf tea. Loose leaf tea will have far less broken leaves and allow for a more complex and sweet taste even with higher water temperature and longer steeping times.
I would recommend you to try one of the following green teas if you want to give green tea a chance. These teas are very different both in taste profile and production methods used.
Unflavored And Unscented Green Teas
- Sencha – This is the most common Japanese green tea. There are many types of Japanese teas, but sencha would be a good place to start. A grassy, vegetal and umami tasting tea that will encourage you to try other Japanese green teas.
- Dragonwell – This is a Chinese green tea that I found very interesting when I started my journey with tea and loose leaf tea. The intense nut-taste of this tea has got me addicted for years. I highly recommend trying this tea!
- Gunpowder – This is not a specialty or highly luxurious green tea. This tea is pretty basic and does not cost you a lot of money. This Chinese green tea can be your daily drinker while being cheaper than a tea bag every time!
Teas With Additives Or Flavoring
- Jasmine Tea – Jasmine green tea is a flavored tea, but can also be found with added jasmine flowers. As this tea is more traditional than more modern blends, I would recommend trying it, too.
- Genmaicha – This is another Japanese green tea. Genmaicha is a unique type of green tea that has roasted rice added to it. I think it tastes somewhat like popcorn. This isn’t a modern invention either, as Genmaicha has been around for a very long time in Japan.
You need to be careful with the brewing methods you choose when making green tea. Green tea can get very bitter if you use boiling water and steep the tea for a minute or two more than you should.
Choose the right water temperature
Green teas will taste sweet, vegetal and floral if you brew them correctly. Generally, you will have the best experience when you use a lower water temperature.
For green tea I recommend 140 °F to 160 °F (60 °C to 70 °C) to avoid ruining the tea. If you use higher temperatures you risk bitterness, harsh taste and the loss of all sweetness and floral notes.
Do not oversteep green tea
Green tea requires you to keep an eye on the steeping time. Most vendors recommend steeping their green tea for 1-2 minutes rather than 4-5 minutes common with black tea.
The longer you steep green tea, the higher the risk of bitterness and unwanted flavors is. If you keep the steeping time very short, the tea will taste mild, soft and sweet. From there you can adjust the time to your preference, but you should not start with more than 2 minutes.
There’s a lot more to learn about tea! If you are looking for a good place to start, I highly recommend the book Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties. You can check its current price on Amazon here.