Green tea if steeped too long or at too high a temperature results in a bitter brew. This is true if you are using loose tea leaves or prepackaged tea bags. Most boxes of prepackaged tea bags will tell you to bring water to a boil before steeping your tea bag. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. This is TOO hot for green tea. It should be steeped in water at 175 degrees for around one minute. Some lesser quality teas can be steeped up to 3 minutes.
With prepacked tea bags it is a trial and error effort to find what brand you like best. I am currently drinking Lipton Green Tea but I prefer Tetley Green Tea. I have tried some generic brands that were very good and some generic ones that were not so great. If you can find Tetley, I suggest that you go ahead and use that brand. If not, Lipton will work just fine.
I can tell you that with Lipton, my first cup of tea was always bitter and I had a hard time drinking it straight. So I added a drizzle or two of honey to my cup after it had steeped. This made the tea taste great, so I never gave it much more thought. However, while occasional sweetener is fine, since I'm trying to lose weight, I've also tried to decrease the amount of sugar and sweetener in my diet. I finally discovered the secret to making a great first cup of Lipton Green Tea. I decreased the water temperature. Now, I have no problem drinking my tea without the added sweetener.
I suggest that you try making your first cup of tea, with whatever brand of tea bags you buy, according to the directions on the box and see how you like it. If you find it yucky then try decreasing the water temperature a bit. If your box suggests steeping for up to three minutes, then try lowering the steeping time as well. Don't give up after the first cup, if you didn't like it. Keep trying until you find what works for you. The health benefits far outweigh any time spent on trial and error.
Below you'll find a list of what you need to make your perfect cup of tea and step by step directions, with pictures, on how I make my own cup.
Tea cup or mug
Green Tea Bags
Thermometer (I currently use a cheap meat thermometer. This is a great accessory to have since you can find out what temperature your water is without having to guess.)
Microwave, Tea Kettle, or small pot.
First, decide what method you are going to use to heat your water. I find that with making just one cup of tea at a time, using my microwave works best, so that is the method I am going to demonstrate.
How to Make a Perfect Cup of Tea
1. Fill an 8 oz mug with filtered or tap water.
2. Heat mug in microwave to around 175 degrees. This is where your thermometer will come in handy. Be sure to remove your mug from the microwave before using your thermometer! On my microwave, I know that heating my mug for 90 seconds gets my water to the perfect temperature. Try yours at about that time and test it with your thermometer. Heat more if necessary or allow your water to cool a bit if it's too hot. Also, if steeping your tea at 175 still produces a bitter cup, try reducing your temperature about 5 degrees the next time.
3. Place tea bag in water. Steep for one to three minutes, depending on the instructions on your box. And remember, if it says three minutes and your tea is bitter, reduce the steeping time the next time around.
4. Remove tea bag and sweeten if desired.
* On my second and often third steeping (same tea bag), I leave the tea bag in my mug, fill with water, and heat in microwave. Since the tea bag was in the mug while heating, there is no need to wait for steeping. The potency of the tea is greatly decreased after the first steeping so the bitterness, if any, is generally gone by the second steeping. You'll still get great health benefits on your second and third steeping.
Different kinds of tea require different temperatures and steeping times. If you decide to venture into other types of tea, you'll want to know the best way to brew that particular kind of tea. You can find all that information here. The link will take you to Teavana's website. The instructions there are for loose tea but the chart on temperatures and steeping times are the same for tea bags as well.
It's always tea time!
Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,