One of the most common complaints we hear from people who are casual tea drinkers is that tea tastes bitter. That bums us out because, like coffee, using high-quality ingredients and brewing it properly can make all the difference when it comes to taste. Bitter tea can be boiled down to two main issues: using low-quality store-bought tea bags and making mistakes when brewing good teas.
We've put together this quick guide to help beginner and casual tea drinkers enjoy the wonderful world of tea. We'll introduce you to some of the best-tasting tea flavors and give you a few pointers so you can brew a tasty cup of tea every time. Say goodbye to bitter brews and dive into delicious flavor right here.
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Tea can be divided into three main categories: true teas, herbal tisanes, and flavored teas.
True teas are teas made from the leaves of tea plant known by the botanical name Camellia sinensis. These include five types of tea: white tea, green tea, black tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea. Brewing true teas is a nuanced process and often feature bitter flavors when brewed improperly. If you want to try one of these teas, make sure to read the tips for brewing below or check out one of our detailed brewing guides to avoid bitter notes.
Herbal tisanes are made from the roots, leaves, and flowers of thousands of plants. This category includes best-sellers like chamomile tea and peppermint tea. Since these teas are made from so many different plants, they offer a wide range of flavors for all palates.
Flavored teas are blends of true teas and herbal ingredients. They often add a new dimension to classic true tea flavors and are a great way for beginners to test the waters of stronger true teas.
Fruit teas, like sweet teas, offer a light body and airy feel. They feature sweet and sour flavors and are popular among beginner tea drinkers. Look for classic favorites like lemon tea, peach tea, or raspberry tea.
Sweet flavors are found on the opposite end of the taste spectrum as bitter flavors. Beginner tea drinkers may enjoy sweeter flavors as they begin to discover new tastes. Most sweet teas fall into the category of herbal teas or tisanes. This type of tea is made from plant parts of any plant that is not the traditional tea plant.
Mint tea offers a refreshing flavor that is invigorating and cooling. These teas are popular among tea drinkers since peppermint is a common flavor in most people's palate. Mint can be found in everything from candy canes and toothpaste to mints and baked goods. Try a delicious peppermint tea or chocolate mint tea if you like bright flavors and enjoy the tingling sensation.
Spiced teas are a great choice for people who enjoy flavors that are a bit bolder and biting. Other spiced teas feature warming spices that are perfect for cozying up with a book by the fire. Spiced teas include everything from ginger tea to cinnamon tea and blends like masala chai. Chai tea features a blend of spices including cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and black peppercorns.
Floral teas offer a sweet flavor that is mild and understated. These teas are perfect for beginners thanks tot heir mild tasting notes and layered flavors that deepen as your palate improves. Popular floral teas include things like chamomile tea, rosehip tea, and hibiscus tea. Chamomile tea offers a flavor similar to a crisp green apple with tart notes and a calming effect. Rosehip tea offers a sweet and sour taste while hibiscus tea is more vibrantly tart and stunning to brew.
If you want to try bolder true teas — green tea, white tea, black tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea — an easy way to introduce your taste buds to the tasting notes is to try a flavored tea. Flavored teas are tea blends that mix true teas with herbal ingredients including citrus fruits, flowers, and spices.
One of the most popular flavored teas in Earl Grey. The tea features a black tea base using high-quality Assam or Darjeeling tea leaves that are enhanced by the addition of bergamot orange rinds. The citrus notes help to mellow out the flavor of tannins in the tea leaves — the plant part responsible for strong or astringent flavors.
Many beginner tea drinkers who think tea tastes bad are using store-bought tea bags. As with most foods and beverages, quality is important. Grocery store tea bags are made using the dust and fannings of the tea leaves, meaning they don't have the robust flavor that loose leaf teas do. For great flavor that isn't bitter, stick to using loose tea instead.
Some teas like green tea develop bitter flavors when they are brewed with water that is too hot. Always follow the instructions on your specific tea packaging to brew using the right temperature. In general, white tea and green tea should be brewed with water between 150 and 175 degrees Fahrenheit since it has mild and delicate tasting notes. Bolder teas like black tea and oolong tea can be brewed with hot water between 1890 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Herbal teas should be brewed with boiling water for the best results.
The steeping time for different teas also varies depending on the type. When steeped for too long, teas can develop bitter flavors that are uninspiring. Again, follow the instructions on your tea type for the proper steeping time. Pay particular attention to steeping times when brewing true teas.
Still feeling like you just can't find the right tea? Use our tea quiz to answer a few short questions and we'll pair you with a great tasting tea based on your responses. Want to join a group of tea lovers and try new teas every month? You can also sign up for our Tea of the Month Club and we'll send you two new teas to try each month.
Drinking tea should be a treat, not a bitter affair. You may need to experiment with a few different types of tea to find the best tea flavors. Start by trying one of these best-tasting teas and adjust as needed to find your favorite tastes.
If you needed another reason to drink tea, it's packed with health benefits ranging from a lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and immune support to increased energy and weight loss. These benefits can be attributed to healthy compounds like antioxidants, flavonoids, and polyphenols present in most teas.
The beauty of tea is that there is a flavor for everyone. Whether you like delicate and sweet notes or prefer strong, bold flavors that can rival a cup of coffee there is a tea out there for you. If you like sweet notes, look for fruity teas like hibiscus and rooibos tea. For strong notes like coffee, black tea like English Breakfast tea and pu-erh tea are a great choice. You'll even find a wide range of delicious flavor if you need something that is caffeine-free. Whatever flavors you choose, you'll love the health benefits and joy that come with drinking tea.
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