Friday, February 26, 2010

Green Tea Preferences

Americans prefer less intense green tea. Or so says the headline for a recent article published in Food Product Design. It quotes a study, whose results recently appeared in in the Journal of Food Science. According to the study, Americans prefer green tea from tea bags versus loose-leaf tea because the perceived intensity of bitterness in tea bag teas is lower than loose-leaf teas.

The study was conducted by researchers from Drexel University and Kansas State University and looked at a selection of loose-leaf and bagged green teas from Japan, Korea and China. They also found "that U.S. consumers liked green tea samples with lower flavor intensity and lower bitterness intensity. Consumers' acceptability of green tea was negatively correlated with spinach and animalic flavor and bitterness and astringency of green teas evaluated."

Read the article here and check out the study results here.

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Gingko said...

Hohoho... I highly suspect some subjects of the study have only had bad loose leaf green teas before. I tried a few green teabags before, and they made me think, if this can be called green tea, no wonder some people claim green tea is bitter...

Historically, most the Chinese green teas that won international awards (such as Tai Ping Hou Kui and Hui Ming Tea in 1915 Panama World Expo. and gunpowder in some Expo. in 1980s) have relatively heavy flavor in Chinese green tea spectrum, which makes me think westerners may prefer green teas with higher flavor intensity - as long as the flavor is good, not bitter or astringent :D

Alex Zorach said...

This is interesting...I've often found that inexpensive green tea in teabags can be painfully astringent and very bitter, although it depends on the brand. I also find that among the teabags available in most supermarkets in America, the black teas tend to be far more bitter and astringent than green teas--which puzzles me because Americans buy mostly black tea. This doesn't fit with the survey.

Loose leaf green tea I have found tends to be less bitter.

But I actually like bitterness, and seek out teas that are bitter (and bitter foods in general). It's probably my single biggest "beef" with American food and American tastes, so in this way this survey does make a lot of sense. American culture seems to be so far towards the extreme of sweet and not bitter...and it bothers me. I think there's a relationship between our tastes and our health, and I think having that strong a preference for sweets is not healthy.

Gingko said...

My mom believes slight bitter foods are healthy. Very often it does make a lot of sense. Sometimes it's not straight bitter, but slight, vegetal bitter. I like certain bitterness in some green tea too. But the bitterness in some cheap green teabags can easily scare off people from ever trying green tea again.

Pei @ Teanamu said...

The yin and yang of food is a rather important concept in Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Bitterness is considered yin. So during summer, we like to eat bittergourd to help us cool down.

Re green tea preference.

The report says that "Single tea bags were brewed in 240 mL of water at 70°C and the bag was dipped 10 times and pressed with a spoon prior to discard." I am surprised this does not bring out more of the astringency.

For loose teas, "Six grams were place in 300 mL of water at 70°C and brewed for two minutes." This is far too long and the proportion of tea to water is also too low!

The report concluded "that Consumers preferred green tea made from tea bags versus loose leaf." It is obvious that they have not used good quality REAL green teas and have not brewed them properly.

Given how the experiment was done, it is no wonder consumers found loose tea less desirable.