What are Tannins? Why are they in my tea?

What are Tannins? Why are they in my tea?

Blog Key Takeaways:

1. **Role of Tannins**: Tannins contribute to the dry, astringent flavor and fuller body in tea, similar to their effect in wine. They are responsible for giving tea its characteristic dryness and depth of flavor.

2. **Source and Function of Tannins**: Tannins are produced by plants to deter predators and are especially common in unripe fruit. Despite their intended purpose to repel, they are attractive to humans for their unique taste.

3. **Tannin Content in Different Teas**: Black teas are high in tannins due to the oxidation process, which breaks down catechins into tannins, giving black tea its dark color. Oolongs have moderate tannin levels, while green and white teas have minimal tannins.

4. **Health Benefits of Tannins**: Contrary to some public misconceptions, tannins are a type of antioxidant and are healthy. The confusion likely arises from the similarity in name to tannic acid, which is less beneficial.

5. **Impact on Tea's Flavor and Body**: Tannins add bitterness and astringency to tea but also enhance its body and richness. Teas with lower tannin levels may taste more watery and thin. Examples of high-tannin teas include East Frisian, while Darjeeling and Yunnan teas are lower in tannins.You may be familiar with tannins from wine.  They give it a dry, astringent flavor.  They do much the same thing for tea as they do for wine, giving it a drier taste and fuller body.  Tannins got their name from their use in tanning leather.  The tannins from oak trees are traditionally used to tan animal hides.  Therefore, if you’re looking for that classy leather-bag, understands wine, and has taste in tea aesthetic, tannins pretty much rule your life.

that wine messenger bag taste in tea tannins lifestyle

Tannins are made by all of these plants as a means to deter predators.  They are especially prevalent in unripe fruit.  The taste is supposed to drive predators away, but, like caffeine, it has instead made them more attractive to human predators.

Black teas tend to be very high in tannins, while oolongs have less, and green and white teas have almost no tannins.  This is because tannins are released when organic matter breaks down, and black teas are oxidized.  Oxidation is a process of breaking down the leaves, which is similar to leaves changing colors in the autumn.  Green and white teas contain catechins, which break down into tannins when the leaf oxidizes.  These tannins are what give a black tea its dark color.

cups of tea full of tannin


There is a confused public perception that tannins are bad for you.  Tannins are actually a type of antioxidant, and quite healthy.  The myth comes from the fact that their name is similar to that of tannic acid, which is entirely different, and much less healthy.

A tea which is high in tannins is called tannic.  While tannins can be bitter and astringent, they also give tea a fuller taste, with more body.  Teas which are lower in tannins can come across as more watery and thin.  Some of the teas which are highest in tannins are East Frisian, while Darjeeling and Yunnan teas are very low in tannins.  

Do you like teas with more tannins, or less tannins?  Do you want to know how high in tannins your favorite tea is?  Tell or ask us in the comments!   


Try the ones mentioned below!


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  • (iam in appreciation for youse to lmk the tannin amount for nettles, which is one of my favs with much thanks, as well : ).

    sisteregina K on
  • Tannins are actually good in teas as they provide health benefits due to their antioxidant and anti inflammatory effects.

    Matt on
  • I need tea that is relaxing which means no caffeine. If tanning is related to caffeine it is not for me. Ingrid

    Ingrid Savignac on

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