Tea Flavor

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

The taste of tea, a lively, mouthfilling quality, comes from several different sources. Tea is mildly acid and bitter and contains traces of salt. It’s also rich in a unique amino acid, theanine, which is itself sweet and savory, and partly breaks down during manufacturing to savory glutamic acid. Chinese green teas also contain synergizers of savoriness (GMP and IMP). Finally, bitter caffeine and astringent phenolics bond to and take the edge off each other and produce the impression of a stimulating but not harsh body. This effect is especially important to the taste of black teas, in which it’s called “briskness.”