by Emeric Harney May 18, 2023 6 min read
We all know they’ve been drinking green tea in China for centuries, but did you know before World War II it was very popular in the U.S.? While it fell out of favor for a time, it has now grown again in popularity big time! While green teas are made from the same plant as black, white, and oolong teas, the Camellia sinensis plant, that’s where the similarities end. Let’s explore the types of green teas and discover what all the fuss over green teas is about.
How Green Teas Are Made
Green teas originate from the tea mother plant, the Camellia sinensis. Just like we discussed in our Types of Black Teas blog, it’s the processing that makes each tea unique.
In order to make green tea, the fresh tea leaves are briefly cooked using either steam or dry heat. This process fixes the green colors and fresh flavors. Which method is used, however, does affect the outcome. Not all green teas are the same.
Although green teas grow all over the world, the finest come from China and Japan. China has been producing tea for at least the last 5,000 years, while the Japanese have made tea in earnest for just the last 500 years.
The light flavors of Chinese greens emerge only after the leaves have been plucked and then fixed. When tea makers “fix” green teas, they preserve the chlorophyll by quickly heating the leaves after harvest. The heat destroys the enzyme that would otherwise turn the leaves brown. The same enzyme browns an apple or potato when the flesh is exposed to the air; just as cooking apples or potatoes preserves their white color, fixing tea keeps it green.
Chinese tea makers use a panoply of methods, each with their own flavors. Legend tells us the first tea was blanched when a fresh leaf fell by chance into a bowl of hot water. Tea makers later steamed teas – it was from the Chinese that the Japanese learned the technique in the ninth century – but then began fixing the leaves in hot woks. Today, some tea makers in China also fix teas in bamboo cylinders or ovens with blasts of hot air.
While the Chinese draw on an arsenal of methods to fix their teas – woks, wood fires, charcoal, hot air, steam, or some combination, each creating distinct flavors – the Japanese favor a steaming method. Chinese tea makers manipulate their leaves to form every shape, from snail shells to plum blossoms, and invent new forms all the time. Those Japanese tea makers who don’t follow the thousand-year tradition of milling their leaves into matcha powder follow the more recent sencha leaf-rolling method invented in 1740.
Types of Green Teas
We carefully select our green teas from the best tea leaf fields in China and Japan, as well as wonderful green teas from some other regions. The Chinese green teas are more mellow and smooth, while the Japanese green teas have the heft of rich, vegetal flavors, which comes from the preservation of chlorophyll. Whether you prefer a hot green tea, an iced green tea, a matcha, a matcha latte, or a green tea shot, green teas are good for you and delightful! Let’s take a look at a few different types of green teas.
Compared to the darker, more mouth-filling Japanese green teas, Chinese greens have the gentler vegetal flavors of steamed leeks, green beans, or bok choy. And where Japanese greens have less sugariness, Chinese greens have charming, sweet notes of cooked carrots, jasmine, and sometimes a subtle hint of honey.
In every way Chinese green teas vary, Japanese green teas can be remarkably alike. The phrase “Japanese green teas” is actually redundant, because green is the only color of tea found in Japan.
For those who prefer their green teas to have a little something something extra to delight their palate, we make flavored green teas. We start by sourcing the best type of green teas and then add flavors, flowers, and other botanicals to create beautiful and exotic green tea blends. You’re welcome.
As previously mentioned, while the vast majority of green teas come from China and Japan, green tea is produced in other countries. We carry three wonderful greens from Vietnam, South Korea and Colombia.
Powdered green teas have been consumed in China and Japan for centuries. It is only in the last few decades that Westerners have acquired a taste for this ancient tea. We enjoy the bracing vegetal flavors, as well as the unusual process for preparing the tea.
We offer a range of thin, thick, and extra thick matcha grades depending on your taste and purpose. We also offer an Organic Matcha, Organic Everyday Matcha, flavored matchas (White Peach and Very Berry), a delightfully different Roasted Buckwheat Matcha, and Matcha iri Genmaicha, a special tea made with Bancha leaves and brown rice coated in matcha powder. For a deeper dive into all things Matcha, visit our Matcha Tea 101 page.
You can also learn much more about green teas – like whether green tea is good for you and if green tea has caffeine (spoiler alert: yes, it does) – on our Green Tea 101 page. Brew up a cup of your favorite green tea, sit back, and become a green tea expert!
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