Squeezing Your Tea Bag: Why You Shouldn’t

tea bags hanging on pink background

Don’t squeeze your tea bag!

It may be a matter of habit, but squeezing your tea bag will cause your tea to get cloudy, make it bitter, and cause the flavor profile to be out of balance.

When you squeeze your tea bag, you’re causing the leaves to release tannins. Tannins are what make true tea taste bitter. Some people think they are getting the last bit of flavor out of the leaves, but this simply isn’t true. What they are getting is a bitter cup of tea.

If you want a stronger cup of tea, use more tea leaves or an additional tea bag. Steeping longer will not make stronger tea. It will just make it stronger.

The information presented here pertains to all true teas that are derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant. There are times when you may want to squeeze herbal teas.

Tea bags referred to in this article are generally thought of to be the commercially available, prefilled paper tea bags with a small string, that are sold mostly in grocery stores. These bags generally contain a lesser quality tea with a lot of tiny dust particles. This makes them more susceptible to having problems when squeezed. They are particularly prone to making the tea cloudy in addition to affecting the taste of the tea.

Some modern tea bags available today are made of other materials and generally contain different kinds of teas of better quality than the general grocery store brands. While these contain better quality tea, it is still not recommended to squeeze them.

The same information can apply to filter bags that you fill yourself with loose tea leaves, but to a lesser extent.

In general, this information does not apply to most herbal teas.

Tea Types

The most problematic teas when it comes to releasing additional tannins while squeezing the tea bag are those that originate from the Camellia Sinensis plant. These are the teas also referred to as “true tea”.

Included are the following:

  • Black tea
  • Oolong tea
  • Green tea
  • White tea
  • Yellow tea
  • Purple tea
teacup on book stack

What Happens When I Squeeze My Tea Bag?

Squeezing the liquid that remains trapped inside the tea bag will release more tannin than what is able to steep out of the bag on its own. By squeezing the tea bag, you inadvertently release these tannins into your tea and, in turn, create a far more bitter and astringent cup of tea.

glass tea cup with tea bag

Why Would I Squeeze My Tea Bag?

Most people seem to do it out of habit. Or maybe they don’t know what to do with the soaking wet tea bag once they remove it from the tea. Or maybe they were just taught to do it that way.

5 Best Practices for Avoiding Tea-Making Mistakes!

Preparing the perfect cup of tea is really quite simple, but there are a few things to keep in mind during the steeping process. Start by doing it the correct way next time and make changes for personal preference later, if desired.

Each type of tea will have its own variability, but there are some things that are common to all. Here are 5 things that can affect the quality of your finished cup of tea.

  • Quality of Your Tea. The quality of your tea leaves. Whether bagged tea or loose leaves, the best quality and freshness do matter.
  • Temperature of the Water. The recommended temperature of your steeping water is critical for the best cup of tea possible. Most people simply bring their tap water to a rolling boil and drop a tea bag in, without regard for the best temperature. Each different class of tea has a recommended water temperature. Check your packaging or our downloadable chart (finish and link) for the recommended temperatures.
  • Quality of the Water. The quality of your available water will also affect the taste of your tea. I prefer to use fresh water that has been filtered.
  • Wrong Steeping Time. If you are in the habit of adding a tea bag to boiling water, you are likely not getting the best results possible. Just like water temperatures, each class of tea will have a different recommended time for steeping. Check your packaging for the supplier recommendations.
  • Squeezing the Tea Bag. Trying to get every last drop out of your tea bag is a bit counterproductive. Squeezing your tea bag after steeping will release extra tannins into your teacup, but it will not make your tea any stronger. What it will do is give your tea a bitter taste.

I know many are in the habit of squeezing their tea bags, and you can even purchase a tea bag squeezer, but it is not recommended.

In conclusion, for a good cup of black tea, or another of the different types of tea, avoid squeezing your tea bag. This will afford the best overall taste and provide a cup of tea that is truly enjoyable at your next tea time.

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