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To try to narrow the scope and help deduce an answer to this question, I'm wondering:

Why does tea become bitter if brewed too hot or too long?

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There is a question on the front page which seems like a dupe to me, cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/27957/…. Can you please explain how it is supposed to be different? –  rumtscho Oct 23 '12 at 22:07
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@rumtscho This question is about tea going bad during brewing, the question you linked to is about tea going bad after it is made. –  user1306322 Oct 23 '12 at 23:41

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Tea contains a lot of flavinoid compounds notably tannins. Tannins are astringent and have a very strong bitter flavor.

The tannins are released much more slowly compared to the other flavor compounds. So when brewed for too long or too hot, much more tannins are released into the brew along and hence the resulting tea is much more bitter.

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how can you brew tea too hot? Water for tea has too at boiling point in order for the tea too taste OK. Nothing worse than tea made with hot, but not boiling water. –  Ken Oct 24 '12 at 20:06
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@Ken: I believe that different kinds of tea require water at different temperatures. Black tea can be made with much hotter water than green, oolong etc. Some teas taste better when made with not quite boiling water. –  Dharini Chandrasekaran Oct 25 '12 at 0:57

This depends on the type of tea. Yerba Mate and other green teas tend to get stronger in flavour but Rooibos or Earl Grey will start getting bitter after 5-10 minutes.

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FYI, mate doesn't contain any tea (Camellia sinensis) –  Jeff Axelrod Nov 2 '12 at 21:36

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