A cup of tea can be just the thing to lift you up or cool you down, but if the taste of that tea isn’t good it can detract from the whole experience. Tea’s flavor depends on many factors, with some teas being more particular about steeping conditions than others. Green tea especially is known for easily tasting bad, but there are several simple things that you can do to improve the taste of your tea.
1. Monitor steeping conditions
Follow the steeping instructions that came with your tea completely until you have more experience knowing how the tea will turn out. As a general rule, if your tea is too bitter, decrease the steeping time, not the temperature. Different types of tea require a certain minimum temperature to bring out the maximum flavor and antioxidants so you should reduce only the time if the tea is too strong or bitter.
2. Use filtered water
Hard water can significantly alter the taste of any tea, and it can also give the tea what looks like an oily or shiny residue on top. This residue appearance is completely harmless, but it can reduce the quality of both the appearance and taste of the tea. Filtered water (not distilled) is best, but if you use tap water, be sure you are fine with the taste of the water alone. If you do not like the water, you will not like the tea – no tea can cover up bad tasting water.
3. Experiment with Flavoring
Add a little sugar or lemon to your tea, but don’t overdo it if you want to still taste the underlying flavor of tea. You can also add milk, but usually only to black teas as it does not go well with green, oolong, or white teas.
4. Steep Tea Multiple Times
Most types of loose leaf tea can be effectively steeped multiple times. Some teas will only be good for 2 or three steepings, while others can go up to seven. Each steeping of a tea will taste a little different, so try re-steeping your tea leaves to see if you like the new flavor. A green tea can taste sweet with the first steep, grassy with the second, and somewhere in between for the third.
5. Change How You Heat Your Water
Traditionally, green tea in Japan was made by heating the water up only to the necessary temperature before adding the tea. Now, people also make tea by heating the water to a boil and then letting it cool to the correct temperature before adding the tea. Microwaving water also results in lesser precision than if you use a pot on the stove or a tea kettle. If you are not happy with the taste of your tea, try changing how you heat your water.