Green tea is probably the tea you hear about most often.
You’ve likely heard that it’s good for you, but what makes a tea “green,” and how do you brew it, so it tastes delicious and not bitter?
Here’s the scoop on making tea “green” and how to brew green tea to perfection.
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Links in the Video
What Makes a Tea Green?
If you’ve been following my blogs, you likely already know that tea all comes from one plant: Camellia sinensis.
Green tea is one of the 6 Types of teas. What distinguishes green tea from the other tea types is the process it goes through after the leaves are plucked from the tea plant.
The leaves are plucked, then “fixed” under high hear to prevent oxidation (and preserves the green color of the leaf). Only green and rare yellow teas go through this process. After they’re fixed, the tea is ready to be rolled, twisted or curled to the extent needed to release oils and create the flavor that the tea master wants to bring out.
Once rolled or twisted, the tea is dried to reduce the moisture (which preserves the tea from spoiling during the packaging process.
Lastly, this tea – now officially a green tea – is sorted either by hand or with infrared cameras that “see” the difference in the tea leaf size. This ensures that the tea you get from one sources is of similar quality and brews consistently. Tiny particles of tea are sent to be made into tea bags while higher quality learner partial or whole leaves (orthodox tea) will become the loose leaf teas you see below.
Where Does Green Tea Come From?
Tea plants destined to become green teas grow predominantly in China and Japan. However, some tea plantations in India that grow teas usually destined to create black teas (Camellia sinensis assamica) are experimenting with using those leaves to make green tea.
Want to learn more about tea, click here to discover the new 14 Day Tea Tour this Fall.
Although Japan is known for its green teas, it’s so popular in country that only a small amount of its teas are sold on the open market.
Are Green Teas All the Same?
Heck no! There’s a green tea for every mood.
Just like different grapes grown in different regions and processed differently create different wines, different tea leaves grown in different regions and processed differently create different teas.
Examples Plucked from the Other Side of the World
The leaves you see below are from three different regions: Japan, China, and India.
Each tea producer processes the leaves differently creating different flavor profiles.
Want a tea that’s fresh and bright? Sencha is the most popular tea in Japan. The Japanese use steam to “fire” their leaves, which preserves their bright green color.
Genmaicha (Pictured Below)
Japan originated this tea blend using sencha leaves blended with toasted rice (that sometimes includes popped rice), but China also creates their own Genmaicha-style blends now. This tea is a savory treat that is subtly sweet; it’s perfect the perfect introduction to the new tea drinker because it’s easy to drink (and brew). We’ll talk more about brewing green teas below. This one is available at the shop right now.
Hojicha (Pictured Below)
Hojicha is a tea made from both the leaves and stems of the tea plant. The leaves are roasted at 390 degrees Fahrenheit for several minutes to give them their roasted flavors and aromas. Hojichas can taste like roasted nuts and have hints of caramel, but each one is different.
The hojicha below (you can get it in the upcoming 14 Day Tea Tour) was grown by the Kinezuka Family on their small farm in Nakayama Village in Shizuoka, Japan. Their farm has used organic farming methods since 1976; they’re one of he pioneers for Japan’s all-natural tea farming. It has aromas that are of smoky chocolate, caramel and wood. It’s flavors include toasted grain and walnut. Its mouthfeel is smooth yet brisk.
Tea plants meant for matcha teas are shaded for two weeks before harvest to force the leaves to produce more chlorophyll and amino acids. This process creates a deep dark green tea leaves that have fewer tannins that create the astringency you might taste in other teas. These tea leaves are then finely ground into a powder. Keep an eye out for matcha teas that are not produced in Japan; Japanese matchas are higher quality.
China is also famous for its green teas. Tea producers there add a withering step that allows the tea leaves to wilt before being fired.
Guo Lu (aka Spring Green) (Pictured)
This tea leaf is harvested from Anhui Province, China. It’s harvested from the first flush (harvest) of spring buds and has a mild flavor with a silky mouthfeel Like most teas, when making this green tea be sure not to brew too long or it becomes bitter. Its flavors include vegetal, slight astringency and green apple. It has a mild fruity aroma. This one is available at the shop right now.
Doke Diamond Green (Pictured)
This tea is an example of a tea leaf meant for a black tea instead turned into a green tea. It was created by Neha Lochan. Her family’s tea estate is located on the Doke River in Pothia Village in the low elevation of Kishanganj, Bilhar District, India. This is a small family-run farm, so these hand-rolled leaves are made in small batches.
It tastes of earthy mineral undertones blended with sweet-tart cherry flavors. Its aroma has a honeyed or maple sweetness that’s also vegetal. The mouthfeel is clean and sharp.
Learn more about loose leaf teas and the exact ways to brew them to get the most value from them during the 14 Day Tea Tour. Click here to learn more.
What about caffeine and health benefits?
All tea is caffeinated (we’re talking teas plucked from the Camellia sinensis plant, and nothing you might think of as an herbal “tea”), so green tea is caffeinated. Most green teas have a low amount of caffeine – no where near the amount found in coffee.
However, matcha has a much higher caffeine content than most teas because you’re eating the entire leaf rather than just extracting the oils from the leaf.
As far as health benefits are concerned, green tea has a lot of the same properties as the other teas, so drink whatever tea you like. You can find more of my thoughts on tea and its health benefits here.
Common aromas and flavors
Green teas vary in their tastes and aromas based upon where they’re grown and how they’re processed. However, here are some of the aromas and flavors you may expect.
How to Brew the Most Flavorful Green Tea Leaves
I’m talking about all green teas except matcha here. Matcha is its own animal and deserves its own future blog post.
Right now, I’m talking about loose leaf green teas. Loose leaf is the only way to go. The tea bagged tea with small bits of tea don’t give you the complex flavors and aromas you’ve read about here. In my experience with bagged green tea dust, I end up with a bland green tea or one that I daily overbrew and make bitter.
Here’s my green tea brewing suggestions:
Each tea may be brewed a bit differently, so see the instructions given to you first, then play with it. My general suggestions on how to make green tea are as follows.
Heat water to about 185 degrees F. You can boil water and let it cool about 5 minutes to get there.
Use 2 teaspoons of tea per 8 ounce of water (Hint: there’s 12 ounces in a regular coffee mug.)
Let steep 1-2 minutes. If your tea isn’t as flavorful as you like, continue steeping 30 seconds more at a time until it tastes the way you like it.
Re-steep your leaves 3+ times at increased infusion times and higher temperatures to get all the healthy and aromatic oils.
Use a quality infuser that allows the leaf to unfurl completely. (I like this one.)
Have any green tea tips of your own? Any questions that I didn’t answer here? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. Don’t forget to be the first to hear about the upcoming 14 Day Tea Tour that will have 14 teas from small growers around the globe. You won’t want to miss the events I’m planning for you! Click here to learn more.