How to reduce astringency in Green tea?
For some, you have to be intense to be a good tea, but for others, excessive astringency is considered a negative attribute of tea.
What are we talking about when we talk about astringency?
The most important thing worth emphasizing is that astringency is a sensation and that it is not a taste (as it is sweet, salty, sour, and bitter).
And precisely, many people confuse astringency with a bitter taste on the palate.
But, of course, how astringency is a complex concept and somewhat difficult to define could be explained as a set of sensations of dryness and roughness that we perceive in the epithelium caused by substances such as tannins.
So far, so good. And now, what are we talking about when we talk about tannins?
Tannin is part of the natural polyphenols present in tea.
Related article: The 10 health benefits of black tea
What factors affect tea astringency?
Polyphenols are the greatest source of tea astringency.
And catechins are the most abundant polyphenols in green tea.
Some of the catechins in tea are also bitter as well as astringents, such as EGCG, which accounts for the highest catechin content of green tea.
In other words, there is a direct relationship between astringency and the bitter taste of tea.
Generally, a tea with a very intense bitter taste is associated with poor quality.
For example, think of tea in a common sachet.
Excessive astringency is also undesirable but at moderate levels.
It is needed because it enhances the sensation of the tea in the mouth, making the overall taste last longer.
In Japanese green tea, cultivation and processing aim to create high-quality teas by increasing amino acids instead of catechins.
Late harvests, low-quality cutting, shady cultivation, incorrect winding, etc., almost always result in teas that are more bitter and astringent.
In the same way, the method of preparing tea focuses on reducing bitter taste and astringency.
That’s why the Sencha, for example, is not infused in boiling water and is not infused for long.
Related article: Which tea helps digestion?
Astringency in tea.
On the contrary, astringency is a feeling of dryness in the mouth.
It is not a taste perceived by the taste buds and while the sensation can be felt on the tongue, it is also evident in the cheeks and throat.
This can make the tongue feel rough or induce wrinkles on the cheeks.
The sensation can take up to 15 seconds to manifest and is known to be cumulative.
And becomes more pronounced with repeated sips.
This unique effect is caused by the presence of polyphenols, both in tea and in many bitterness-vs-astringency-2 other foods and beverages, such as wine or icy fruit.
Polyphenols, as a category, include all the praised antioxidants found in the tea leaf.
Astringency is not always a desirable flavor component.
In particular, lack of astringency is a high-quality sign in white, green oolong teas, and oolongs.
But it is also highly appreciated by experienced palates, since, for example, the same feeling that connoisseurs covet in a “dry” wine.
Despite the association between astringency and bitterness, it can also accompany other flavors, such as natural sweetness.
Related article: The Health Benefits of Green Tea.
How to reduce astringency in Green tea?
With Green tea increases the concentration of tannins by letting it rest once prepared.
When this occurs, it is easier to appreciate the bitter taste and a feeling of astringency when drinking.
Bring down the water temperature.
- Most green teas are best when soaked in temperatures of approximately 70-85 ºC (158-185 ºF).
- As a result, if you mix green tea with boiling water, try reducing the temperature of the water.
- Leave to rest for about 1 minute to bring the water to the right temperature.
- Take the boiled water and let it cool before adding it to your tea; 3-4 minutes and there you go!
- This should be enough to cut down on the astringency and bitterness of your cup of tea.
Shorten the steeping time.
- To soak most green teas, you only need to soak them for about 2 minutes.
- Consequently, if you are soaking longer, try to reduce the soaking time to 2 minutes.
- If the level of bitterness and astringency is still too high, you can try to reduce the time again to 1 to 1.5 minutes.
Related article: What is The Best Tea to Start With.
In short, for some styles of tea, astringency is not only permissible but even desired and cultivated.
In contrast, bitterness is often a sign of mass production and is rarely associated with quality tea leaves.
Wine drinkers probably aren’t surprised.
The next time a tea frown on your cheeks, take a moment to notice and distinguish these flavor characteristics.
You may soon be savoring the complexity rather than shrinking.
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