Blog 145: What’s A Strong Tea?

It is a common sense that drinking strong tea and strong coffee can be bad for our health. But in terms of the definition of a strong tea, there is no official answer. Today, let’s discuss what a strong tea really is and how we can avoid unhealthy tea-drinking habits.


Some tea drinkers believe that the concept of “a strong tea” only applies to certain tea categories. For example, oolong tea tastes stronger than green tea and white tea. By this standard, an oolong tea should be considered as a strong tea.


Of course, this is wrong. “A strong tea” refers to the state of a tea, not the entire tea category. As a tea producer, we define a strong tea as a tea that contains too much excessive nutrient substances released into the tea soup.



There are many nutrient substances in a cup of tea. A good tea should have a balanced taste and mouthfeel. All nutrient substances should be kept within a healthy range. It is never the more, the better.


For instance, excessive tea polyphenols, caffeine, and theanine in a cup of tea would lead to a undesirably strong and astringent tea soup.


Regardless what tea it is, if a tea is not properly served, it can always become a “strong” tea.


In practice, there are many things can lead to a strong tea. In this blog, we will focus on 3 major culprits of a strong tea:



1. Wrong Tea-to-Water Ratio


If you are a regular Gaiwan user, you’d notice that most premium teas are packaged for the standard Gaiwan size.

Normally, the optimum weight of a bag of tea for a standard Gaiwan is:


White tea: 5g

Black tea: 5g

Wuyi oolong: 7g-8g

Dark Tea (such as Pu’er): 8g

(Green tea is not on this list because it is usually steeped in bigger teaware)


If we follow this tea-to-water ratio, we can get a balanced tea soup. In our daily tea-drinking, we can increase or decrease the amount of tea used by 0.5g to 1g based on our personal preferences.


If the tea-to-water ratio is out of balance, especially when there’s too much tea, the tea soup would unavoidably get too bitter and too strong.



2. Broken or Shattered Tea Leaves


An infusion is the process of nutrient substances in tea leaves dissolving in water. The rate of infusion greatly affects how strong the tea soup can get.


If the rate is too high, the tea soup gets strong faster; if the rate is too low, tea leaves would take longer to produce a taste, but tea leaves might also suffocate in the slow process.


The rate of infusion is associated with many factors such as the integrity of tea leaves, the thickness of tea leaves’ wax layer, and the water temperature.


Generally speaking, full leaves offer the best infusion rate. Broken and shattered leaves, on the other hand, have too many exposed edges. As a result, they release substances at a much faster pace.


This is why full loose-leaf teas are always more premium than tea bags - they produce a more balanced tea soup at a more desirable rate.



3. Over-steeping


Over-steeping might be the most common reason why a tea becomes too strong.


As we all know, longer the steeping time, stronger the taste. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you must know that good quality teas never require steeping. A premium tea is able to produce the aroma, the color, and the taste instantly.


However, if we force-steep a good tea, tea leaves will suffocate and release an excessive amount of tea polyphenols and caffeine.


Even for green tea, a tea category that’s commonly steeped, over-steeping can cause a bitter and astringent taste.



When it comes to tea, going too far is as bad as not going far enough. A strong tea is bitter and hard to swallow, let alone the excessive tea polyphenols and caffeine content. A strong tea doesn’t reflect the essence of a tea. No matter what tea it is, the strong version of it is always a disappointment.


We hope you enjoyed today’s blog. As always, if you have questions or suggestions, please leave a comment, tweet us @valleybrooktea or email the author directly at zhang@valleybrooktea.com. Please also follow us on Instagram @valleybrooktea and join our mail list to get our daily tea updates and our latest promotions!


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