A bittering agent is a flavoring agent added to a food or beverage to impart a bitter taste, possibly in addition to other effects. While many substances are bitter to a greater or lesser degree, a few substances are used specifically for their bitterness, especially to balance other flavors, such as sweetness. Notable beverage examples include caffeine, found naturally in tea and coffee and added to many soft drinks, hops in beer, and quinine in tonic water.
Prior to the introduction of hops, many other bitter herbs and flowers were used as bittering agents in beer, in a mixture called gruit, which could include dandelion, burdock root, marigold, horehound (the German name for horehound means "mountain hops"), ground ivy, and heather. Also bog myrtle.
Various other substances are used, including:
Other prominent uses of bittering agents include:
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- "Gale (Myrica gale L.)". Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- For example, Goya Dry by Helios brewery of Okinawa