Flavour strength vs bitterness
new to Steepster – hello! I wonder if anyone can help me shed some light on my problem…
I’ve recently received a lot of different blends from a new supplier who is respected in the industry (so I have no reason to believe I’ve received low-grade teas).
I can’t seem to make a nice cup of tea out of any of them!! It’s driving me crazy! I have had short periods in the past (usually only a day), where for the life of me I can’t seem to nail a pot of tea, even with a tried and proven tea that I regularly consumer; but this seems to be different. In the past I’ve just put that down to either rushing it, or absentmindedly leaving it too long in the pot.
Now I am religiously following various instructions in good books and online and none of these teas taste very good. They are a variety from full leaf English Breakfast through to CTC Irish Breakfast and everything in between. All of them turn out bitter and tasteless. I describe their flavour profiles as a bit “thin”, like a weak cup of tea, but with the bitterness of an overbrewed cup. How can this be??
I’ve tried a bit more tea for shorter brews, leaving the boiled water for a minute before pouring into the pot, but they still come out not very flavourfull and quite bitter.
What am I messing up?
Could this be an issue of water quality?
Well, I’m glad you mentioned that – because it has been at the back of my mind that maybe something like that has changed. We use a standard Brita water filter jug, but I guess even then it could still be affected. A couple of months ago there was visible dirt and taste in our water for a day or two – that could have messed the filter up…maybe?
Perhaps try making tea with a good bottled water and see if that makes a difference. You might want to report that issue with your water.
It seems ok now, but I will try it with some bottled water. I bought some pure water, which I think might be distilled – which as I understand it tends to make a flat tea anyway.
Definitely don’t use distilled water. Sounds like you might also want to replace your filter just in case.
For blended black teas like English Breakfast (orthodox) and Irish Breakfast (CTC), what are other people’s brewing amounts/temperature/methods?
Well stuff like the black tea should near boiling water, 8 oz of water, 1 teaspoon, and 3 minutes are standard.
One teaspoon for 8oz? That’s like a traditional teacup and half isn’t it? Or close to a mug? (Sorry I’m metric – but I measured 6oz as being damn close to my teacup size) Most things I read say 2 teaspoons, or am I reading wrong?
2 teaspoons for any CTC would be a lot (for my taste at least). For CTCs I usually recommend 1 teaspoon per 8oz (250ml approx.) 1-2 minutes. For whole leaf, depending on the tea it could be anywhere from 1-2 teaspoons for 250ml 2-4 min.
I find water temperature is something that really changes the flavor of tea. If it’s too hot you can burn the tea which is what can cause a bitter taste.
For a small leaf or CTC Indian tea or blend I use 1 tsp for 8oz water under the boiling point (about 190F) and steep 3 minutes tops. Even so, I need soy milk and sometimes sugar in teas like that. My Chinese large-leafed blacks I can drink straight. And yes, water quality is important! Try a new filter and also compare with a spring water.
Try something, use water a little less hot but do it like this, put some loose tea in the pot (or where you brew it) , add a bit of cold water, maybe 10% of the volume of the total water you will use and add the rest with boiling or very close to boiling water. Not sure if this would work but worth a try. This will stop the leaves from getting scalded, if that is the problem and I think it works better than just a mass of less hot water.
Also something worth considering is if the leaves got unduly broken up during transit (if they are samples for example). Though admittedly for CTC not sure that makes any difference, but for traditional teas, I think it matters a lot – which is why I always find the last tea left in tins to be the worst! If I understand correctly when you break the tea leaves, you create new edges, sharp edges through which the tannins will leak faster than through the normal edges.
Also the ammount, I never know what a teaspoon of tea is, but I am metric as well. If you got digital scales and get a chance try using just 1 gram of tea for a 250-300 ml cup. CTC is strong – a teabag of 2 grams or 2.5 is usually enough for a 1 liter teapot, so for just a cup use really little.