All About Green Tea
Did you know there literally countless versions of green tea available worldwide? That being said, they all have one thing in common - they come from the tea plant Camellia sinensis (sinensis version)
Each variety of green tea is determined by such factors as plant region, harvest time/methods and processing.
A Little on Oxidation...
The distinguishing factor that determines the difference of white, green, oolong, or black tea is the oxidation. Oxidation starts after a leaf has been plucked from the plant, and begins a process of being dried, withered, rolled, and heat treated.
Black tea is fully oxidized which causes it to turn black whereas green tea has very little oxidization. The lack of oxidation is also responsible for the very low caffeine content.
Green tea is touted as one of the healthiest drinks as it's processing avoids the fermentation process. As a result, green tea retains maximum amount of antioxidants and poly-phenols which give green tea its many benefits including:
- Helping to lower risk of cancers, Alzheimers, diabetes and heart disease
- Improving dental health and skin
- Easing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
To this day, China and Japan are the top two green tea producing and exporting countries in the world. I hope by going through some of the most popular types it can help you when you next go to purchase some delicious green tea!
Japanese Green Tea:
Tea was first introduced to Japan from China in the 700s and was a luxury product only available in a small amount. Today, Japan produces some of the worlds most popular and wonderful green tea. Some of the top Japanese teas include:
SENCHA | 緑茶
Representing 75% of the green tea in Japan, Sencha originated in Kyoto and is known for it's balance of sweet and bitter flavours. Despite being seen as a "common" japanese tea, it is available in variable quality and price. A quality sencha tea should not be bitter. Sencha tea leaves are grown under full sun until harvest and have a very high antioxidant property.
Matcha | 抹茶
Also from Camellia Sinesis plant, matcha differs from Sencha as it is removed from direct sunlight while growing and is a stone ground powder. Ingesting the whole leaf gives you 100% of it's health benefits. See Miraculous Matcha to learn more about this and some of my favourite brands.
Genmaicha | 玄米茶
Also known as "popcorn tea" genmaicha contains whole roasted grains of brown rice that sometime pop during the roasting process and resemble popcorn. Genmaicha was originally drunk by poor Japanese, as the rice served as a filler and was cheaper. The addition of rice adds a warm almost nutty flavour to the tea.
Hojicha | ほうじ茶
Different from other Japanese green teas, Hojicha is roasted turning the leaves to a reddish brown. It emerged in the 1920's as a more economical way to make use of the stems and stalks. Roasting the tea lowers the caffeine which makes it a popular tea to drink in the evening> It is typically produced from sun-grown tea bancha.
One of my favourite hojicha is YamaMotoYama
Chinese Green Tea:
Longjin | 龙井茶
Also referred to as Dragonwell tea, it is characterized by its green color, delicate aroma and mellow taste. This tea is one of China's most famous and is easily recognized by it's beautiful flattened shape. One of my favourites is from Stash Tea
Gunpowder | 珠茶
The english name from this tea comes from it's resemblance to grains of gunpowder. Each tea leaf is rolled into a small round pellet. Rolling the leaves help keep the tea from physical damage and breakage and retain their flavour and beautiful aroma. Gunpowder tea is bold, but also light and smoky. This green tea has one of the higher caffeine levels.
XINYANG MAOJIAN |毛尖花
This tea is one of the most delicate green teas. It has mellow notes with light vegetable and forest scents. It's name means “Downy Tip,” referring to abundance of tiny hairs on the tea leaves and the thin, needle-like shape of the roll.
BILUOCHUN | 碧螺春
Farmers in the area of Dong Ting grow this tea along side fruit trees, giving Bi Luo Chun its famous floral fruity aroma. It is harvested in the spring which gives it a white feathery appearance. It's name translates to "blue spring snail" which you can see as it's curled dried shape is similar to a snail.