Tea is such a popular drink, and you might be among the millions who need to start the day with a nice cup of it. If you’ve been brewing tea for any amount of time, then you’ve probably noticed that tea will foam at least a little bit.
Most people don’t think anything of it, but inquisitive minds might wonder why exactly the tea is foaming. Is there a specific thing that causes the tea to foam, and is there anything wrong with tea if it foams too much?
Read on to learn about why tea foams and you’ll also get other information about what tea foam means. You’ll feel much more informed about tea foam so that you can satiate your intellectual curiosity.
Generally, you shouldn’t be worried about tea foam, but it’s still something that is interesting to learn about. The information below will really shed a light on things, and you’ll feel like you know the most pertinent information about tea foam by the time you’re done.
Why Tea Foams
From a simple scientific perspective, you will find that tea foams because of the amphiphilic compounds that are contained in the tea leaves being extracted during the brewing process. This might sound fancy, but it basically just means that brewing the tea is the direct cause of the foam.
This actually works quite similarly to how foam will form when you’re combining soap and water. When you put soap and water together, bubbles or foam will be created, and you can think of tea in similar terms.
Brewing tea causes a molecular reaction that produces these foam bubbles. This is because there are many different compounds in tea that can cause the tea to foam.
Keep reading to learn about the compounds that are responsible for making tea foam. You’ll have a deeper understanding of why this happens in the first place.
Perhaps the most common compounds that will cause your tea to foam are amino acids. Tea that has more soluble amino acids will produce more foam on the surface.
Denatured proteins can also be responsible for creating foam when brewing tea. These proteins are actually large molecules that are made up of amino acids, so it makes sense that they would cause the tea to foam.
Finally, fatty acids are also likely to cause the tea to form. These fatty acids have the potential to make tea foam in a way that more closely resembles soap, and this means that tea that has a high amount of fatty acids can be particularly foamy.
How Does the Foam Get Created?
You know what compounds cause the tea to create foam during the brewing process now. What you don’t know is exactly how the foam is created.
Below you’ll be able to see the likely reasons why foam is created when you brew your tea. It could be a combination of these things or it could be just one of them.
Dissolved gases could be causing your tea to foam up since gasses can dissolve in water. If some of the dissolved gasses escape during the brewing process, then they could lead to foamy bubbles being created.
Air Getting Trapped
Air getting trapped is one of the most common reasons why brewed tea becomes foamy. When you’re brewing tea, it’ll be foamier if air has been trapped in the tea leaves or the teabag that you’re using.
When this air gets released, it can wind up creating bubbles that will present themselves on the surface of your tea. If you’re seeing that your tea has many small bubbles, then trapped air is likely the reason why they’re present.
The Way the Water Is Poured
Sometimes the way that the water is poured can play a role in making the tea foam up. You could have poured the water in such a way that air was pushed into your tea.
The air can actually cling to the tea bag or even whatever you’re brewing your tea in. This creates a foam that looks much the same as the foam mentioned above.
Different Factors Can Cause There to Be More or Less Foam
You’re learning that tea foam is a more interesting subject than you first thought. There are many reasons why tea might form foam during the brewing process, and there are also different factors that can cause there to be more or less foam.
Discovering what factors can influence this might help you to understand what’s going on to a finer degree. It might not be easy to avoid having tea foam at all, but at least you’ll know more about what to expect.
The Temperature of the Water
The temperature of the water when you’re brewing the tea can play a role in foam creation. Depending on whether you’re brewing your tea with hot water or if you’re cold-brewing your tea, you might be able to expect more or less foam.
When water gets too hot, it might wind up making it easier for things to dissolve, and this will create more foam. The cold brewing process can cause things to turn out differently, too, and it’s best to try to do things how you prefer so that your tea will taste how you want it to.
The Type of Tea That You’re Brewing
It should stand to reason that the type of tea that you’re brewing is going to play a role. Some types of tea are going to be more likely to create significant amounts of foam than others.
This is because one type of tea might have more compounds that will cause the tea to foam. If you use a type of tea that has fewer of those compounds, then you’ll get less foam or potentially close to no foam.
Whether the Leaves Are Broken
Tea leaves that have been broken are going to be more likely to form lots of foam. This is because more of those compounds will get extracted during the brewing process.
The surface area of broken tea leaves is higher, and this means that the compounds will be dissolved faster. If you want your tea to be foamy, then using broken tea leaves is a way to make that happen.
Whether the Tea Contains Additives
Sometimes tea will contain additives that can play a role in foam creation. Certain common types of tea have additives that cause the tea to foam more.
Earl Grey tea is probably the best example of this. There are many others that contain additives as well, and you’ll want to look up specific information about any types of tea that you want to brew to learn more.
Microwaves Can Cause More Foam as Well
It’s notable that microwaving your tea could cause the tea to bubble up more than usual. If you recently microwaved tea, then you might have noticed that the tea came out foamier than it did when you brewed it using standard methods.
If you heat the water up in the microwave and then dip a tea bag into a cup, then it’s likely going to form a thick foam. Why does this happen, though?
Basically, the water that you’re utilizing has been heated too much, and the abundance of heat can make excess foam. The microwave is heating the water past its boiling point, and the cup that you’re using might not be allowing the water to boil properly, too.
Often, people who make tea in the microwave like this will note a large number of bubbles appearing at the surface of the tea. It’s probably going to be thicker than usual as well, and if you wish to avoid this, then you should probably stick to brewing tea the standard way.
Should You Be Worried About Foam?
Foam isn’t something that should concern you in any way. It isn’t going to harm you in any way and it’s actually completely natural.
That being said, some people might find excessively foamy tea to be a bit more annoying to drink. You can try to get your tea to turn out less foamy if you can avoid allowing air to get trapped inside during the brewing process.
It also might be good to buy types of tea that don’t foam up quite as much. You don’t need to go out of your way to avoid tea foam, but some people might just prefer types of tea that only have minor amounts of foam.
The only time you would need to worry about foam in your tea is if it seems particularly weird. For instance, if the tea tastes funny or if it has unusual foam, then it could be bad.
Sometimes tea can get moldy if you don’t store it properly, and this could be causing the tea to turn out very strangely. If you suspect that something is off with the tea that you’re brewing, then you should just dump it out and clean your kettle so that you can brew some fresh tea.
Overall, the foam in your tea shouldn’t be too much of a reason to think twice. If your tea turns out a bit foamier than usual, then the most likely situation is that you got too much air trapped in the tea somehow.
Foreign Substances Added to Tea
Sometimes tea can foam up more than usual if foreign substances have been added to the tea as well. For example, you might not have rinsed out your tea kettle as well as you thought you did.
If you recently cleaned out your tea kettle with soap and water, then there is the potential that some of the soapy residue was left in the kettle. If you go to boil water for your tea while the kettle is still somewhat soapy, then maybe some of that soap made it into the tea.
When your tea tastes sort of soapy, this is going to be the likely culprit. You probably just forgot to rinse out the kettle so that you would be ready to brew tea again.
There isn’t any reason to worry if you consumed tea that had some soap in it. It just might have tasted kind of bad is all, and you can certainly remedy the situation for the next time that you make tea.
Other things can make your tea taste bad when they get added to the mix, too. For instance, your tea kettle will form calcium deposits due to being used over time, and you need to clean the kettle to eliminate this.
If you leave the tea kettle alone and don’t clean it, then the taste of your tea could get thrown off. It’s unclear whether this could impact the foaminess of the tea, but it can definitely throw the taste off.
It’s recommended to wash your tea kettle to get rid of any built-up minerals fairly often. This should be easy to accomplish and you’ll be able to get back to just enjoying your tea.
Knowing more about tea and why it foams should help to put you at ease. Those who are new to brewing tea might be concerned about foamy tea, but most people understand that it’s just a normal thing.
You have a lot of information about why tea foams up and what factors can contribute to how foamy the tea will get. This can actually help you to pick out types of tea that you will like better since you can look for tea that will have more or fewer compounds that contribute to foaminess.
The important thing is to just take the time to enjoy your tea. Tea is such a wonderful drink that people around the world enjoy, and you should embrace it whether the tea is foamy or not.
Hopefully, all of your burning questions about foamy tea have now been answered. With your curiosity satisfied, it’ll be easier to focus on enjoying a hot cup of tea and unwinding.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard.