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I suspect you are here looking for some information on a little herbal tea called bitter melon tea. Well, my friend, you have come to the right place. You’ll find everything you need to make the perfect cup of bitter melon tea as well as what to expect it to taste like when you drink it and so much more.
But first the basic question…
What Is Bitter Melon Tea? Bitter Melon Tea, also known as bitter gourd tea, is an herbal tea derived from the bitter melon fruit. The fruit and the leaves can be steeped in hot water to produce this herbal infusion.
With a name like bitter melon, you might expect bitter melon tea to be a pretty unpopular herbal infusion. But that is simply not the case. This wonderful little herbal tea is really starting to pick up steam and become more and more popular in the mainstream.
It has a wide variety of benefits, the most famous of which is the possibility that it helps manage type 2 diabetes. That seems to be where a lot of the popularity of bitter melon tea is coming from at the moment. Let’s dig deeper into this wonderful herbal fruit tea and see what we find.
For a convenient bagged version of this herbal infusion, I like to use JaAeIn Bitter Melon Tea Bags(*affiliate link), available on Amazon.
If a loose-leaf bitter melon is more your style check out Liwening Organic Bitter Melon(*affiliate link), available on Amazon. With that out of the way read on for everything you want to know about this interesting herbal infusion.
Everything You Want To Know About Bitter Melon Tea
Bitter Melon has quite a few names that it is known by. Bitter apple, balsam pear, and many others. It is most commonly referred to as bitter melon of bitter gourd in the western world for the most part. The proper name for it is Momordica charantia(source). It originated in India and found its way to China in the 1500s.
You can now find it grown in the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa. In addition to the herbal infusion, bitter melon is used in a wide range of cooking and culinary dishes. It was often used as a traditional herbal medicine to treat a wide range of ailments.
What Does Bitter Melon Tea Taste Like?
Bitter melon tea doesn’t have the most complex flavor profile but it does have some interesting aspects to it including a lot less business than you might expect from something called bitter melon. Let’s take a look at the individual flavor notes that you can expect when you make your first cup of bitter melon tea.
Bitter Melon Tea Is Earthy
If you tried enough herbal infusions then you know an earthy taste is pretty common among these types of teas. It’s particularly noticeable in root herbal teas and makes an appearance in many flower herbal teas as well.
And that brings us to bitter melon tea where the base of the flavor is a kind of earthiness. I don’t think it’s as pungent as the root herbal teas but it certainly is noticeable and does function as the foundation for the other more subtle flavors that are built on top of it, That make up the entire flavor profile of bitter melon tea.
A Little Grassy or Vegetable Flavor
There’s a bit of grassy or vegetable flavor to bitter Melon tea. It’s kind of a plant-like aftertaste. It’s certainly not the grassiness that you would get from green tea. But there is a delicate little vegetable taste running through the entire herbal infusion.
I think it’s this grassy flavor that really helps make the bitter melon tea drinkable. The fruit itself is described as pretty bitter hence the name but the vegetable flavor that comes through once you steep it is interestingly not as bitter as you would expect.
Surprisingly, bitter melon tea is quite a smooth herbal tea to drink. As I mentioned it’s not nearly as bitter as the name would suggest.
In fact, once you steep the tea there’s very little bitterness at all. As long as you see fit properly. The one interesting thing about bitter melon tea is that you can easily over steep it if you leave it in the water too long. But we’ll get into that in the how to make bitter melon tea section of this article.
The Aroma Of Bitter Melon Tea
I found the aroma of the tea to be a lot like the taste of the tea. The tea smells a little bit earthy with some vegetable notes to it. There is nothing really surprising here and you really taste what you smell once you start to drink you are bitter melon tea. The fruit itself seems to have a nice little sweet aroma to it as well.
How To Make Bitter Melon Tea
Making a perfect cup of bitter melon tea requires a little bit more attention than many other herbal infusions. You have to be very careful with the Steep time as over-steeping bitter melon tea will make it quite bitter.
In addition, there are some general rules that you can follow to make sure that you get the best cup of bitter melon tea possible.
Use Good Quality Water
The first stop on our journey to the best possible cup of bitter melon tea is with the water you choose to steep it in. If you’ve been using Straight tap water to steep your tea then you are missing out on some of the flavors that a lot of these teams bring to the table.
What you want is good bottled spring water or filtered tap water if your tap water is drinkable in the first place. Either one of these is going to give you nice balanced water to use as the basis for your bitter melon tea.
Pick The Right Kettle
In addition to the water, you can improve the flavor of your tea by using a ceramic, glass, or Stainless steel kettle or pot to boil your water in.
You want to make sure that you’re not adding any additional flavors from the material that you boil the water in. It may not make a huge difference but I found that using one of these materials for your Kettle or pot really does make the tea a little bit better.
Another thing to consider is using a kettle with a temperature gauge on it so that you only heat the water up to the desired temperature Instead of boiling the water and then letting it cool. Again it’s not a huge deal but it does add a little bit more flavor if you only heat it to the desired temperature. My favorite is this HadinEEon Variable Temperature Electric Glass Kettle(*affiliate link), available on Amazon.
How Much Bitter Melon For A Cup Of Tea?
A single bitter melon tea bag is plenty to get the great flavor of the bitter melon but if you feel like you want to stronger tea don’t be afraid to add more tea bags to your standard cup of water.
If you’re losing the sliced fruit itself I recommend one or two slices for a typical 8 oz cup of water. If you’re buying dried slices they’re usually about a quarter of an inch thick and that’s going to be plenty to give you enough flavor in a cup of tea.
However, this comes down to personal preference a lot of times and you can put as many slices into the water as you want if you can deal with the strength of the resulting tea.
How Long Do You Steep Bitter Melon Tea?
For a lot of herbal teas, the Steep time is pretty flexible. Typically you need to steep herbal teas much longer than you do true teas. However, with bitter melon tea, you really need to watch the Steep time because over-steeping will create an astringent bitter tea.
Ideally, you want to keep your seat time under 5 minutes. I like to go between 2 and 4 minutes for a steep with a bitter melon tea bag. Steep time is always going to be a mostly personal choice but I urge you to try and keep the Steep time down with bitter melon tea just so you can avoid getting a tea that is overly bitter.
What Should The Water Temperature Be?
The water temperature for steeping your cup of bitter melon tea needs to be pretty hot. For a lot of true teas like green tea or white tea you really need to keep a lower water temperature.
It’s not as important for herbal infusions and for bitter melon tea you can have your water temperature around 205°F/96°C. It’s still under the boiling point but it’s going to be a very hot steep in order to draw out the flavors from the bitter melon. You can use this handy Fahrenheit to Celcius conversion table to find the temperature you need.
Steeping Instructions Quick Look
- 3-7 minutes steep time is plenty
- 1 bitter melon tea bag or 2-3 slices of dried bitter melon
- 205°F/96°C Is a good water temperature to shoot for
- Steep covered and use good quality water
A Few Bitter Melon Tea Benefits
Bitter melon and bitter melon tea have long been used to treat a wide variety of ailments. It is a traditional herbal remedy but studies into it have begun to show some of these benefits might have some scientific backing.
More study is needed of course to really determine how effective bitter melon is in treating these ailments but there does seem to be some truth to the traditional uses for bitter melon
Bitter Melon May Help Treat Diabetes
Some clinical trials have shown promise in bitter melon’s ability to lower glucose levels and help manage type-2 diabetes(source). Although much more study is needed to draw any real conclusions. However, it does contain 3 substances with anti-diabetic properties. They include charantin, polypeptide-p, and vicine(source).
Bitter Melon May Have Some Anti-bacterial Properties
Bitter melon has often been used in traditional medicine to help treat some bacterial infections and skin conditions. In the past has been used to treat wounds and bacterial skin conditions.
However, a lot more study needs to be done to figure out the actual effect that bitter melon can have as an antibacterial.
Bitter Melon Tea Has Tons Of Anti-Oxidants
Antioxidants are an important part of an overall healthy body(source). They helped destroy free radicals that can cause a wide variety of health issues. Bitter melon tea is full of a variety of antioxidants that can help promote better health.
Bitter Melon Promotes A Healthy Immune System
Vitamin C has a ton of benefits including promoting a healthy immune system. Bitter melon has a ton of vitamin C in it(source). Eating the bitter melon will give you the most vitamin C but some will be present in the tea as well.
May Help Maintain Better Eyesight
Bitter melon contains alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene, two compounds known to help improve and maintain good retina health. It also contains zeaxanthin and lutein which can help protect the eyes against free radicals and damage from blue light(source).
Promotes Weight Loss
One of the biggest benefits of bitter melon when it comes to weight loss is the fact that it has no calories. When you replace a sugary drink with a lot of calories with bitter melon tea you have a much better chance of losing weight because you are reducing the number of calories your intaking.
Any type of reduction in calories and sugar that you can make by replacing a sugary drink with bitter melon tea is going to have some effect on weight loss(source).
It Kills Cancer Cells in Laboratory Experiments
Bitter melon extracts have been studied in a laboratory environment where it has successfully killed some cancer cells. However, human trials have not been tested and this needs a lot more study before a determination can be made on its effectiveness(source).
Bitter Melon Tea Side Effects
Bitter melon is typically safe for adults to ingest, however, if you are allergic to bitter melon or any of the compounds in it you should check with a doctor before drinking bitter melon tea. As long as it is consumed in moderation only a few standard side effects are common like gas and diarrhea(source).
Pregnant women are cautioned against drinking bitter melon tea because it can induce contractions. Always check with your doctor before drinking any herbal teas if you are pregnant or expect to be pregnant.
Bitter Melon Tea FAQ
While bitter melon tea is a pretty popular herbal infusion it is not as well known as many other herbal teas like chamomile or hibiscus. Therefore people have quite a few questions about bitter melon tea. here are some of the most frequently asked questions about this wonderful herbal infusion.
Does Bitter Melon Tea Have Caffeine?
Bitter melon tea is not a true tea. It is in an herbal infusion made from bitter melon. Therefore it doesn’t have any caffeine in it naturally. If you blend it with green tea or white tea, for example, will bring caffeine into the mix but when drunk alone it has no caffeine.
This makes bitter melon tea a great option for a healthy beverage any time of day including right before bedtime as it won’t mess with your sleep rhythms the way that some caffeinated beverages can.
Can You Drink Too Much Bitter Melon Tea?
You should always try and drink bitter melon tea or any herbal tea in moderation. As long as you don’t have any pre-existing conditions a cup or two each day should be just fine.
Caffeine is one of the main diuretic culprits and that may be overstated as well. As mentioned bitter melon tea has no caffeine so the effect might be lessoned and are unlikely to have a diuretic or dehydrating effect when drunk in moderation(source).
Does Bitter Melon Tea Contain Sugar?
Bitter melon tea is naturally sugar-free. This makes it a great option for anyone trying to lose weight as replacing a calorie-heavy sugary drink with bitter melon tea will help reduce your caloric intake and make it easier to maintain or lose weight.
Does Bitter Melon Tea Have Any Carbs?
Bitter melon tea has no carbohydrates in it to speak up. There may be Trace Amounts in there somewhere but they are never enough to be listed on the nutritional information of bitter melon tea and for all intents and purposes they are completely carbohydrate-free. This means that bitter melon tea can be consumed while on a wide variety of low-carb diets.
Does Bitter Melon Tea Have Calories?
So we’ve established a bitter melon tea has no carbohydrates and no sugar and we’re going for the trifecta here because it has no calories either. Similar to its carbohydrate content there may be trace calories in bitter melon tea but they are not listed in the nutritional information of this tea and are negligible and should not have any impact on your diet.
Is Bitter Melon Tea Ok For Fasting?
All this combines to make bitter melon tea a great option for anyone that is on a fast or practicing intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting requires that you go for long periods, usually a minimum of 16 hours, without consuming any calories whatsoever. For the most part, you want to drink a lot of water during your fasting periods but mixing it up with a nice cup of bitter melon tea or any tea for that matter is a great way to help push back any lingering hunger pains.
Is Bitter Melon Tea Keto Friendly?
As mentioned, bitter melon tea has no carbohydrates which make it great for a low-carb diet. And that includes the lowest carb diet out of them all, the keto diet.
Keto is incredibly popular these days and finding beverages that fit into the narrow limitations of that diet is a bit of a challenge. Mostly you want to drink water but you’re going to want a little bit of flavor every now and again and bitter melon tea is a great option to have for this particular diet.
When Is The Best Time To Drink Bitter Melon Tea?
Bitter tea can be consumed at any time of the day. It really comes down to personal preference. As mentioned it has no caffeine so drinking it before bed is a possibility.
Personally, I think it makes a great afternoon/lunchtime tea. I think it is a little too mild for evening tea or morning tea. I like a little bit of spiciness or caffeine in the morning and something a little sweeter or more complex after dinner.
So it fits into that large category of afternoon teas for me. It is not a tea that I drink on a regular basis either so I just kinda drink a cup every now and again when it’s convenient.
The Big Finish
That brings us to the end of our journey into the wonderful world of bitter melon tea. This is one of the up-and-coming herbal infusions I think.
Its ability to potentially help manage diabetes is one of the driving factors behind its popularity and probably the one that’s going to push it into the mainstream.
People are always looking for remedies and help to manage this terrible disease. If you can do it with a nice cup of tea every now and again that would be great for a lot of people.
But outside of the benefits of bitter melon tea, you have a wonderful herbal infusion that is light and delicious. That’s easy to make either with loose-leaf bitter melon or even in some cases you can find bitter melon tea bags for even more convenience.
The point is when you start to see an herbal tea become available you know that it’s starting to pick up in the mainstream. I hope you found this article interesting and helpful and I hope it inspires you to give this wonderful herbal infusion a try for yourself and see what you think of it.
Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful day.