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Harfatum said

White, green, or oolong teas without astringency?

I want to branch out a little more from my standard black teas with milk, but it is so common for teas to be astringent. Even most black teas are, but milk is excellent at cancelling it out (Pu-erhs are mostly free of it, which is nice). I really don’t like astringency, and can’t see myself drinking anything that gives me that dry-mouth feel regularly.

So, can anyone recommend me some teas with as little astringency as possible?

22 Replies
SoccerMom said

Harfatum,

I think if you focus mostly on temperature and steep times with greens, whites, and oolongs you will definitely find some you enjoy.

Just watch those two things and you will be able to find some you like. I would recommend that you find some (greens, whites, and oolongs) that sound good to you and then try to find them and arrange some swaps or watch the “Take it Away!” thread.

Hope this is helpful? If not I would recommend some specific teas but it’s a matter of personal taste really. ;)

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Definitely avoid Japanese green teas.

Look for darker oolongs – Ti Kwan Yin often falls into this category – as opposed to greener oolongs.
If you brew most white teas correctly, you really won’t find an astringency. If you oversteep it, you might get a bit of a flat, unpleasant flavor, but nothing too bitter or stinging.

Miss Sweet said

That’s interesting you & other posters say to avoid Japanese greens – the ones I’ve tried (admittedly only about 6 or 7) have been sweet and buttery with no astringency. Are Japanese greens typically astringent?

I personally don’t like Japanese greens. But to my understanding, they normally don’t get astringent if the temperature and infusion time are controlled well. Meantime, I am not sure if the astringency described by some people is exactly what some other people like. I generally don’t feel astringency from green, white or yellow. But I even like slight astringency from raw puerh.

Ramallamas said

Wow JMK! I think I will have to disagree on your Japanese tea comment! If it’s brewed properly with correct steeping time and temperature, the Japanese greens that I’ve had have been sweet, grassy and clear. Watch the water temperature especially, as boiling water can burn the tea leaves and release more tannins into the water which are what gives the tea that bitter, astringent taste. Sorry, I just have to stand up for my Japan Greens! (Gyokuro, Sencha, Genmai and Houjicha, represent!)

Ah, I wasn’t saying that the Japanese greens are bad, or are necessarily astringent. Some of the teas – Kyobancha and Kaga Bocha, for instance – are rather subtle and mild, and defintely an enjoyable cup. But (and I know this from quite a bit of experience) when Sencha is brewed wrong… gods, it’s awful. While Japanese greens can be great, they can also be (from my tastes) the worst tasting if you do it wrong – not just bad, but truly undrinkable.
When I first tried it, and brewed it incorrectly, I was really turned off from trying Senchas for a long time. (Notably, back then and even now, I use large amounts of Japanese teas in a small pot, using extremely short infusion times – in which case, even an extra five seconds can give you a terrible brew. Also, rather than using a thermometer, or exact measurements for anything, I tend to “eyeball” everything, and I taste my way through what I’m drinking. When you get an oversteeped, overheated green tea… oy.)

On a small side note – this may be the reason I’ve never truly connected extremely well with Green teas…

My point was moreso that Japanese teas, as far as greens go, are very temperamental, and in my opinion, a tea to try brewing only after getting more comfortable with green teas in general. Best to feel out your path with Chinese and, if possible, Korean teas, I think.

(By the way, I hate that I can’t make a point without going off on, like, ten tangents. >.<)

Ramallamas said

Haha! Yeah I agree. Whenever I burn japanese green teas I just dump it. It’s not worth trying to drink… I have never had Korean tea! Where can you get it? Is it delicious?

I came across it because a shop from Korea opened near my home – Puripan Tea Garden. Unfortunately, their only shop in the states is in San Jose, California.

It’s pretty similar to some of the Chinese green teas… Not dragonwell or gunpowder, but more like bi lou chun, if you’ve had it. Maybe a bit darker than Chinese…
Again, I’m not huge on greens, so I haven’t immersed myself enough in the their green teas to draw out too much distinguishments. The really notable part of their selection is their herbals – some really interesting stuff.

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Erin said

Harfatum,

SoccerMom is right; it really is just a matter of personal taste, so unfortunately, the only way to go about finding what you like is to try lots of teas (which sadly costs money). However, you and I seem to be in the same flavor boat (I too drink mostly black tea) so maybe you’ll benefit if I make a few personal recommendations. I’m not sure if you’re looking more for flavored or unflavored teas here, so I’ll just tell you both! I’ll try to keep it short.

Adagio’s White Blueberry is delicious (IMHO). You can pick up a decent sized sample in a tin for only $2. Their Jasmine Silver Needle is wonderful, as is their Jasmine #12.

Samovar’s Osmanthus Silver Needle is to die for. Downy Sprout is also fantastic; it’s buttery and delicious but also pretty pricey. I also enjoyed their Royal Garland (which is an oolong). Luckily, Samovar has sample sizes too, but they’re really only enough for 1-2 cups and they’re more expensive than Adagio.

Golden Moon’s Coconut Pouchong was very smooth and creamy. They offer samples, too, and the coupon code STEEPSTER will save you the price of shipping.

Republic of Tea’s Honey Ginseng was the first green tea that I actually liked. Maybe you’ll like it too! It was the free sample I got when I signed up to receive a (free) catalog.

Rishi’s Honeydew Melon is another favorite of mine.

I hope I was able to help you some! I’ve noticed that our tastes are kind of similar, and I wouldn’t describe any of these as being particularly astringent. Good luck! I know you’ll find something that you like!

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1-stay away from plain assams, some people may disagree but i think they are most likely to be astringent
2-i second everyone’s try stuff and fiddle with steeping time/temp/amounts
3-i have had better luck with Chinese greens and oolongs for sweet and non-astringent teas

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Yellow teas … I have yet to find much (if any) astringency with yellow teas. Of course, you’re going to pay a bit more for them… but oh… they’re worth it!

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Ramallamas said

I have issues with astringency myself… but I love the flavours that black teas have! In an attempt to combat bitterness and tannins, I use water that isn’t boiling for just about everything… I find that even if I forget about my steeping tea (as I am always so likely to do) it generally won’t “oversteep.”

Something else to try if you accidentally steep your tea too strongly is to pour out the first infusion and to try again! I’m not entirely sure why this works, but especially with some blacks and oolongs I’ve found I can rescue some of the teas that i destroyed with my forgetfulness.

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I hope you aren’t looking for consistent suggestions from all of us :P I prefer black-with-milk too, but I’ve been branching out lately, so I can tell you what works for me:
I haven’t had astringency problems with whites, as long as the temp is low enough (flavor problems are another story)
I haven’t done many greens, but I like Adagio’s Dongshan Dolce; I find it sweet, buttery, and not at all dry/bitter
I get the astringency from Formosa Oolongs in particular, so I tend to avoid those in favor of greener (Chinese?) oolongs

In terms of preparation, water that’s too hot is the real killer. A steep time that’s too long can also be bad, but I haven’t had any trouble with too much leaf.

The black teas I like best without milk tend to be Chinese (Keemun, Fujian, Yunnan) or Ceylon – and here too much leaf can be a problem. I’d suggest trying any of those with 1 level tsp / 8oz water, and steep no more than 3:30 to start. If you don’t like the first, try a second steep (4-5 minutes) – they’re usually milder and sweet, in my experience re-steeping blacks.

Good luck!

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teaplz said

Most tea isn’t astringent if it’s brewed at the correct temperature (black teas being the exception, of course). I’ve found in every single case that I ran across astringency issues, I’ve lowered the temperature and the astringency has disappeared. It could be a problem of using too much leaf as well.

SoccerMom said

I agree with teaplz.

S said

I agree with this. Excluding black teas, pretty much every green, oolong, and white tea I’ve tried has not been astringent if I use a short steep time and lower temperature. Bitterness is a sign that it’s being steeped too long as well.

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Charbrew said

Fantastic article on vietnamese Oolong http://www.learn-about-tea.com/oolong.html

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Harfatum said

Thank you all so much for your replies :D

I have ordered some of Life In Teacup’s oolongs and raw puerhs, and some of them fit the bill. I’ll be posting reviews of them as I feel confident enough to do so. The Simple Leaf’s Tankha and Decadence also fit what I’m looking for.

The harsher teas (such as many gunpowders) can leave my throat burning from the astringency, which really turns me off. This is mainly what I am trying to avoid.

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