Things That Are Bitter

Welcome to our list of things that are bitter!

Bitterness generally refers to a taste (or smell) which is sharp and can be quite pungent, but can also refer to situations, contexts and feelings. We’ve tried to include and encapsulate all of these different aspects into our list of bitter things. We hope we’ve covered what you’re looking for in our list of things that are bitter.

Here’s a visual list of things that are bitter:

Hopefully that visual list of bitter things was useful! Here’s a longer and more descriptive list of things that are bitter:

  • Bittermelon: Also known as bitter apple, bitter gourd, karela, and bitter squash. A tropical vine with edible, bitter fruit.
  • Matcha: A finely ground powder of green tea leaves. Commonly used to make tea or matcha desserts.
  • Espresso: A type of coffee and coffee-making method which results in a very strong, bitter coffee.
  • Coffee: A (usually) hot drink brewed from roasted coffee beans. Is used as a source of caffeine, and can be quite bitter.
  • Lemon Lime Bitters: A drink mixed from lemonade, lime and bitters. Tastes sweet and sharp.
  • Beer: An alcoholic drink made from fermented cereal grains.
  • Dark Chocolate: A type of chocolate that doesn’t have the milk that milk chocolate does. Has a stronger, more bitter taste and is usually vegan.
  • Black Tea: A type of tea that is stronger in flavour than other tea types (green, white etc).
  • Green Tea: A type of tea that hasn’t gone through the withering and oxidation process that oolong and black teas have undergone. Has a lighter, milder taste (but can still be bitter, especially if prepared incorrectly).
  • Dandelion: A type of flower with bitter stems. Can be used to make tea.
  • Oolong Tea: A semi-oxidised Chinese tea.
  • Pu-er Tea: A type of fermented tea.
  • Sencha Tea: A type of Japanese tea made by infusing the whole tea leaf in hot water (as opposed to matcha, where the powder is mixed with hot water).
  • Kale: A type of cabbage with sturdy, edible, dark green leaves.
  • Dill: A plant whose leaves and seeds can be used as both an herb or a spice.
  • Saffron: A spice with a vivid red colour.
  • Wine: An alcoholic drink made from fermented grapes.
  • Endive: A bitter, leafy vegetable which is high in folate and fiber.
  • Robusta Coffee Bean: A type of dark coffee bean which produces a strong brew.
  • Brussels Sprout: A type of small cabbage with edible buds.
  • Arugula: A type of vegetable with a fresh, bitter, peppery flavour.
  • Red Wine: A type of wine made from dark-coloured grapes.
  • Chicory: A plant from the dandelion family with bright blue flowers. Can be used as a coffee substitute.
  • Cocoa Solids: What’s left after cocoa butter is extracted from the chocolate liquor.
  • Cranberry: A small, brightly-coloured berry with a sharp taste.   
  • Amaranth: A perennial plant which can be eaten as a type of cereal.
  • Radicchio: A type of leafy chicory used as a leaf vegetable.
  • Vinegar: A mild acid used as a flavouring.
  • Chard: A leafy green vegetable with long, colourful stalks.
  • Artichokes: A plant with edible flower buds.
  • Thistles: A prickly flowering plant which can be used to make teas and soups.
  • Chayotes: An edible plant part of the gourd family.
  • Asparagus: A type of edible plant.
  • Rocket: A leafy vegetable with a tart, bitter flavour.
  • Rhubarb Leaves: A plant with large green leaves and reddish stalks.
  • Rutabaga: Also known as turnip. A root vegetable with white colouring and green leaves.
  • Grapefruit Juice:  A type of citrus which can be both sweet and bitter.
  • Lemon: An evergreen tree that grows round citrus fruits.
  • Lime: A citrus fruit which is green and has acidic juice.
  • Ajwain: A type of annual herb with small, oval-shaped fruits.
  • Celery: An edible plant with fibrous stalks. Popular as a low-calorie snack, generally eaten with carrots or peanut butter.
  • Clove: Aromatic flower buds which are used as a spice. Can be used to flavour curries, soups and teas.
  • Cumin: A plant whose seeds can be used as a spice.
  • Epazote: Also known as wormseed, Jesuit’s tea, Mexican-tea, payqu or mastruz. A plant which is used as a herb.
  • Horseradish: A perennial root vegetable which can produce enzymes that irritate the sinuses and eyes.
  • Juniper: Coniferous trees with small berries.
  • Negroni: A popular cocktail made of gin, vermouth rosso and Campari.
  • Campari: A type of liquer which is made of an infusion of herbs and fruit. Categorised as a bitter.
  • Full City Roast: Also known as light French, light espresso or Continental. A type of dark roast, which results in a strong, bitter taste.
  • Vienna Roast: A category of roasted coffee bean that is deeper than American roast. The prolonged roasting time provides a very strong flavour.
  • French Roast: The darkest color of roast.
  • Italian Roast: Also known as Dark French, Neapolitan, Spanish or Heavy roast. A type of roast that results in a very dark brown coffee bean.
  • Arabica Beans: A type of coffee bean that produces a less acidic, more bitter taste.
  • Torrefacto Coffee: A process of coffee roasting common to Spain, France, Portugal, Costa Rica, Argentia and Paraguay. Involves adding sugar during roasting to glaze the beans.  
  • Aperol: An Italian aperitif (an alcoholic drink served before or after a meal) that mainly consists of rhubarb, cinchona and gentian.
  • Averna: An Italian liquer which is sweet with a subtle herbal bitterness.
  • Cynar: A bitter Italian liquer made of 13 different plants.
  • Kuding Cha: Also known as kuzding cha. Translates to “bitter nail tea”. A very bitter-tasting tea.
  • Burnt Toast: Things that are burnt can have a strong, bitter taste.
  • Lavender: A flowering plant in the mint family. Known for its distinctive aroma.
  • Mace: A spice similar to nutmeg.
  • Marjoram: A perennial herb with pine and citrus flavouring.
  • Amari: A herbal liquer with a bitter-sweet flavour.
  • Oregano: A herb with purple flowers.  
  • Caraway: A biennial plant whose seeds are used as a spice.
  • Chervil: Also known as French parsley or garden chervil. An annual herb similar to parsley.
  • Cinnamon: A spice from the inner bark of some tree species. An aromatic flavouring added to cereals, teas, snacks and other savoury foods.
  • Fenugreek: An annual plant whose leaves are used as an ingredient.
  • Mustard Seed: The small round seeds of mustard plants. Used as a spice and condiment.
  • Asafetida: The dried latex from the tap root of some celery species.
  • Thyme: An evergreen herb which is used for culinary, ornamental and medical purposes.
  • Lovage: A plant whose leaves can be used as a herb, the seeds as a spice and the roots as a vegetable.
  • Rosemary: An evergreen herb with fragrant leaves and brightly coloured flowers.
  • Tarragon: Also known as estragon. A perennial herb that is part of the sunflower family.
  • Bay Leaves: An aromatic leaf used as a flavouring in cooking. Can be used crushed up or whole.
  • Sage: A small shrub which is used as a herb. Also known as garden sage, common sage or culinary sage.
  • Cardamom: A spiece made from the seeds of a few different plants.
  • Savory: An annual herb used to flavour food.
  • Coriander: An annual herb also known as Chinese parsley or cilantro.
  • Turmeric: A flowering plant which is part of the ginger family. The roots are used in cooking, and it has a warming, sharp taste.
  • Fennel: A plant which is part of the carrot family. A sturdy herb with yellow flowers.
  • Summer Savory: A type of herb which is part of the savory genus. Less bitter than winter savory.
  • Sichuan Peppercorns: A spice from Sichuan which causes a tingly numbness.
  • Star Anise: A spice that closely resembles anise.
  • Chamomile: A flowering plant commonly used to make teas and medicine.
  • Mint: Also known as mentha. Has a fresh flavour and cold feel.
  • Angelica: A type of herb found mainly in China.
  • Goldenseal: Also known as orangeroot or yellow puccoon. A herb in the buttercup family.
  • Horehound: Also known as white horehound or common horehound. A type of mint.
  • Milk Thistle: Also known as Scotch thistle and Mary thistle. The roots can be eaten raw or boiled.
  • Peppermint: A mint hybrid cross between watermint and spearmint.
  • Rue: Also known as common rue and herb-of-grace. Used as a medicinal herb and condiment.
  • Wormwood: A species of flowering plant in the sunflower family.
  • Yarrow: Also known as common yarrow. A flowering plant used as a common herb.
  • Sorrel: Also known as common sorrel or garden sorrel, spinach dock or narrow-leaved dock. A perennial herb.
  • Sow-Thistle: Yellow-flowered thistle plants.
  • Gentian: Many drinks can be made with gentian roots.
  • Echinacea: Flowering plants in the daisy family.
  • Tansy: A perennial plant in the aster family. Also known as cow bitter, bitter cuttons, golden buttons and common tansy.
  • Centaury: A plant which can be used as a herb.
  • Hops: The flowers of the hop plant is used as a bittering and flavouring agent in beer.
  • Rue: Also known as common rue and herb-of-grace. Cultivated as a medical herb and a condiment.
  • Broccoli: A plant eaten as a vegetable. Known for its sulfurous and bitter taste.
  • Citrus Peel: Also known as rind. The thick skin of citrus fruit is known as a sour, bitter flavouring.
  • Orange Marmalade: A sour, bitter fruit preserve made from juice and peel of citrus fruits. Usually made with boiled sugar.
  • Grapefruit: A large, semi-sweet, mildly bitter fruit.
  • Olives: A plant used to make oil, preserves and eaten for its fruit.
  • Essiac Tea: A herbal tea.
  • Tonic Water: A carbonated drink with a sharp, bitter taste.
  • Bitrex: The most bitter chemical compound in the world.
  • Braulio Amaro Alpino: A type of alcoholic bitter.
  • Amaro Alta Verde: A type of alcoholic bitter composed of alpine herbs, citrus and different spices.
  • Gammel Dansk Bitter Dram: A bitter with 29 types of herbs and spices.
  • Amaro Dell’Erborista: A bitter alcohol with herbs, roots and honey.
  • Riga Black Balsam: A liquer with blackcurrant and cherry notes.
  • Cappelletti Elisir Novasalus Vino Amaro: An alcohol with bitter herbal aromas.
  • Cynar: An alcoholic bitter made from artichokes and an infusion of 13 herbs and plants.
  • Fernet Branca: A bitter herbal liquer with 39% alcohol.
  • Ramazzotti: A digestive bitter liquer with 30% alcohol.
  • Amaro Lucano: An Italian liquer with herbal notes. Commonly composed of musk yarrow, bitter orange, angelica, gentiana and aloe.
  • Old Fashioned: A type of cocktail made with sugar, whiskey, bitters and sometimes brandy.
  • Rum: A distilled alcohol made from fermented sugarcane juice.
  • Bourbon: A type of whiskey made from corn.
  • Cardamaro: A wine-based aperitif with a subtle herbal bitterness.
  • Amaro Nonino: An alcohol consumed as either an aperitif or digestive with a mildly bitter and spicy taste.
  • Becherovka: A herbal bitter often drunk for digestive aid. Has more than 20 herbs and spices.
  • Chartreuse: A French liquer known for its yellowish-green hue. Composed of aged distilled alcohol with 130 herbs, flowers and plants.
  • Malort: A liquor known for its bitter taste.
  • Aveze: An alcohol with floral, bitter, herbal notes.
  • Ritz Cocktail: Also known as the Ritz sidecar. A cocktail known as one of the most expensive drinks and is composed of cognac, cointreau and lemon juice.
  • Pendennis Cocktail: A cocktail composed of dry gin, apricot brandy, lime juice, bitters and chilled water.
  • Halstead Street Velvet: A cocktail made of equal parts beer and champagne.
  • Black Russian 100: An alcoholic mix made of a maraschino berry, ice, kahlua and vodka.
  • Tangerine And Olive: An alcoholic cocktail made with vodka, sweet vermouth, tonic water, citrus bitters, tangerine and garnished with an olive.
  • Braulio: An alcohol which has a balance of bitter and sweet from the thirteen-herb infusion (including peppermint, juniper, star anise, bitter orange, yarrow and gentian).
  • Montenegro: A distilled amaro made from a secret blend of 40 herbs.
  • Lucano Anniversario: An alcoholic blend with absinthe, holy thistle and gentian.
  • Sibilia: An Italian Amaro. Made with an infusion of herbs and roots.
  • Cassia: A type of cinnamon.
  • Cinchona Bark: A type of tree bark used for medicinal purposes.
  • Aperitivo: A pre-meal drink mean to stir your appetite.
  • Feelings: Bitter feelings are generally ones where you feel disappointed and unable to change the situation.
  • People: With enough time, bitter feelings can change a person’s entire outlook and perspective.
  • Situation: Situations can be bitter or bittersweet – where either something you don’t want to happen occurs or where something that makes you happy occurs but only because of an unwanted situation.  
  • Relationship: If people are unhappy with each other, relationships can quickly turn bitter and unhealthy.

We hope this list of bitter things was useful and that you found what you needed!

We did our best to cover all of the varied meanings of “bitter” with our visual gallery of bitter things and descriptive list. But if you feel there’s something we missed, please feel free to let us know and leave a comment.

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