Tannins, polyphenolic compounds found in plants, are known to complex with proteins of feed and rumen bacteria. This group of substances has the potential to reduce methane production either with or without negative effects on digestibility and microbial yield. In the first step of this study, 10 tannin-rich extracts from chestnut, mimosa, myrabolan, quebracho, sumach, tara, valonea, oak, cocoa and grape seed, and four rapeseed tannin monomers (pelargonidin, catechin, cyanidin and sinapinic acid) were used in a series of in vitro trials using the Hohenheim gas test, with grass silage as substrate. The objective was to screen the potential of various tannin-rich extracts to reduce methane production without a significant effect on total gas production (GP). Supplementation with pelargonidin and cyanidin did not reduce methane production; however, catechin and sinapinic acid reduced methane production without altering GP. All tannin-rich extracts, except for tara extract, significantly reduced methane production by 8% to 28% without altering GP. On the basis of these results, five tannin-rich extracts were selected and further investigated in a second step using a Rusitec system. Each tannin-rich extract (1.5 g) was supplemented to grass silage (15 g). In this experiment, nutrient degradation, microbial protein synthesis and volatile fatty acid production were used as additional response criteria. Chestnut extract caused the greatest reduction in methane production followed by valonea, grape seed and sumach, whereas myrabolan extract did not reduce methane production. Whereas chestnut extract reduced acetate production by 19%, supplementation with grape seed or myrabolan extract increased acetate production. However, degradation of fibre fractions was reduced in all tannin treatments. Degradation of dry matter and organic matter was also reduced by tannin supplementation, and no differences were found between the tannin-rich extracts. CP degradation and ammonia-N accumulation in the Rusitec were reduced by tannin treatment. The amount and efficiency of microbial protein synthesis were not significantly affected by tannin supplementation. The results of this study indicated that some tannin-rich extracts are able to reduce methane production without altering microbial protein synthesis. We hypothesized that chestnut and valonea extract have the greatest potential to reduce methane production without negative side effects.