I've been attempting to make green smoothies lately as part of a health kick. The way I've been doing it is to use a normal smoothie recipe, but to add handfuls of spinach.

In general, the results haven't been bad, and certainly better than I expected, but I do find the spinach to add a bit of undesired astringency the smoothie.

Now I know that certain tastes can counteract the perceived effect of other tastes. For example, sweetness can counter sourness, or salt can counter bitterness.

I tried experimenting a bit with adding (separately) honey, lemon, and salt, but none of these seemed to make a difference in the astringent feeling the smoothie left in the mouth. What taste, if any, can counter astringency?

  • 1
    a handful of frozen mixed berries covers up the strong aftertaste of raw greens. my mom has gotten me to drink frightening concoctions this way... even hid the -blech- raw garlic. If that fails: chillies! guaranteed your mouth or eyes or nose won't be dry then, lol
    – Pat Sommer
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 17:41

4 Answers 4


Many leafy and dark green vegetables have high tannic and dicarboxylic (including oxalic) acid levels. Though these are weak acids, they have a powerful astringent effect. Some of the main tricks to hiding and/or removing these are soaking in:

  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C, lemon juice)
  • Fats
  • Food grade lime
  • Milk

So if your smoothy is milk based you will be extracting the maximum tannin from the spinach :-)

A pre-soak in a small quantity of milk and then discarding that milk, or a pre-soak in lemon juice and then a quick fresh water rinse are probably the simplest "fixes" of the spinach's astringent effect


In the case of black tea, astringency is much reduced by adding a small amount of milk to the brew.

Unfortunately this is not a simple case of taste perception; astringent compounds in the tea bind chemically with proteins in the milk. I don't honestly know if a similar chemical process will occur in the case of spinach since the astringent compounds in tea and spinach are not identical.

I generally add milk to smoothies anyhow. Worth a try?


This is only a guess, but cucumber might help (of course you'd need to peel it), or melon - they both work well in spinach salads.

I thought about alternatives to spinach - how about trying rocket or coriander?


Green apples.. Really look for smoothies that actually use leafy green veggies in them to avoid them tasting bleh. Or use green apples instead of milk.

  • Green apples are themselves a rather adstringent ingredient? Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 10:13

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