appearance of green tea in three different stages (from left to right): the
infused leaves, the dry leaves and the liquid. Notice that the infused leaves
look greener than the dry leaves.
Green tea is made
solely from the leaves of Camellia sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation
during processing. Green tea originates in China and has become associated with
many cultures throughout Asia. It has recently become more widespread in the West,
where black tea is traditionally consumed. Green tea has become the raw
material for extracts which are used in various beverages, health foods,
dietary supplements, and cosmetic items. Many varieties of green tea have been
created in countries where they are grown. These varieties can differ
substantially due to variable growing conditions, horticulture, production
processing, and harvesting time.
Over the last few decades green
tea has been subjected to many scientific and medical studies to determine the
extent of its long-purported health benefits, with some evidence suggesting
that regular green tea drinkers may have a lower risk of developing heart
disease and certain types of cancer. Although green tea does not raise the
metabolic rate enough to produce immediate weight loss, a green tea extract
containing polyphenols and caffeine has been shown to induce thermogenesis and
stimulate fat oxidation, boosting the metabolic rate 4% without increasing the
According to a survey released by
the United States Department of Agriculture in 2007, the mean content of flavonoids
in a cup of green tea is higher than that in the same volume of other food and
drink items that are traditionally considered of health contributing nature,
including fresh fruits, vegetable juices or wine. Flavonoids are a group of
phytochemicals in most plant products that are responsible for such health
effects as anti-oxidative and anti-carcinogenic functions.
Tea consumption has its legendary
origins in China of more than 4,000 years ago. Green tea has been used as both
a beverage and a medicine in most of Asia, including China, Japan, Korea,
Thailand, and Vietnam, to help everything from controlling bleeding and helping
heal wounds to regulating body temperature, blood sugar and promoting
digestion. A book written in the Tang Dynasty of China is considered one of the
most important in the history of green tea. The book was written by Lu Yu and
is called the "Tea Classic" or "Cha Jing". It was written
between 600 and 900 AD and spoke about exactly how and where one could enjoy a
fine cup of green tea. The Kissa Yojoki (Book of Tea), written by
Zen priest Eisai in 1191, describes how drinking green tea can have a positive
effect on the five vital organs, especially the heart. The book discusses tea's
supposed medicinal qualities, which include easing the effects of alcohol,
acting as a stimulant, curing blotchiness, quenching thirst, eliminating
indigestion, curing beriberi disease, preventing fatigue, and improving urinary
and brain function. Part One also explains the shapes of tea plants, tea
flowers, and tea leaves, and covers how to grow tea plants and process tea
leaves. In Part Two, the book discusses the specific dosage and method required
for individual physical ailments.
harvesting and processing
Green tea is processed and grown
in a variety of ways, depending on the type of green tea desired. As a result
of these methods, maximum amounts of polyphenols and antioxidants are retained,
giving maximum green tea benefits. The growing conditions can be broken down
into two basic types - those grown in the sun and those grown under the shade.
The green tea plants are grown in rows that are pruned to produce shoots in a
regular manner, and are generally harvested three times per year. The first
flush takes place in late April to early May. The second harvest usually takes
place from June through July, and the third picking takes place in late July to
early August. Sometimes, there will also be a fourth harvest. It is the first
flush in the spring which brings the best quality leaves, with higher prices to
match. Processed green teas, known as "aracha" are stored under low
humidity refrigeration in 30 or 60 kg paper bags at 0-5°C (32-41°F). This
aracha has yet to be refined at this stage, with a final firing taking place
before blending, selection, and packaging takes place. The leaves in this state
will be re-fired throughout the year as they are needed, giving the green teas
a longer shelf life and better flavor. The first flush tea of May will readily
store in this fashion until the next year's harvest. After this re-drying
process, each crude tea will be sifted and graded according to size. Finally,
each lot will be blended according to the blend order by the tasters and packed
Brewing and serving
Green tea leaves steeping in a gaiwan
Steeping is the process of making
a cup of tea; it is also referred to as brewing. In general, two grams of tea
per 100ml of water, or about one teaspoon of green tea per five ounce cup,
should be used. With very high-quality teas like gyokuro, more than this amount
of leaf is used, and the leaf is steeped multiple times for short durations.
Green tea steeping time and
temperature varies with different tea. The hottest steeping temperatures are
81°C to 87°C (180°F to 190°F) water and the longest steeping times two to three
minutes. The coolest brewing temperatures are 61°C to 69°C (140°F to 160°F) and
the shortest times about 30 seconds. In general, lower-quality green teas are
steeped hotter and longer, while higher-quality teas are steeped cooler and
shorter. Steeping green tea too hot or too long will result in a bitter,
astringent brew, regardless of the initial quality. It is thought that
excessively hot water results in tannin chemical release, which is especially
problematic in green teas, as they have higher contents of these. High-quality
green teas can be and usually are steeped multiple times; two or three steeping’s
is typical. The steeping technique also plays a very important role in avoiding
the tea developing an overcooked taste. The container in which the tea is
steeped or teapot should also be warmed beforehand so that the tea does not
immediately cool down. It is common practice for tea leaf to be left in the cup
or pot and for hot water to be added as the tea is drunk until the flavor
], known as one of the ten most famous Chinese Teas, is one variety of Yellow
Tea, like the Huo Mountain Yellow Buds (霍山黄芽)
and the Mengding Yellow Buds (蒙顶黄芽).
It is cultivated on Junshan Island, Yueyang City, Hunan Province (湖南省,岳阳,洞庭湖君山).
Zhejiang Province is home to the
most famous of all teas, Xi Hu Longjing (西湖龙井), as well as
many other high-quality green teas.
Maybe the most
well-known green tea in China. It originates in Hangzhou (杭州), the
capital of Zhejiang Province. Longjing in Chinese literally means dragon
well. It is pan-fried and has a distinctive flat appearance. The tasteless
frying oil is obtained from tea seeds and other plants. Falsification of
Longjing is very common, and most of the tea on the market is in fact produced
in Sichuan Province and hence not authentic
Named after a
temple in Zhejiang.
A tea from Kaihua
County known as Dragon Mountain.
A tea from Tiantai
County, named after a peak in the Tiantai mountain range.
A tea from Tian
Mu, also known as Green Top.
A popular tea
also known as zhuchá. It originates in Zhejiang but is now grown
elsewhere in China.
This tea is also
the quintessential ingredient in brewing Moroccan green tea with fresh mint.
plate of Bi Luo Chun tea, from Jiangsu Province in China
A Chinese famous
tea also known as Green Snail Spring, from Dong Ting. As with Longjing,
falsification is common and most of the tea marketed under this name may, in
fact, be grown in Sichuan.
A tea from Nanjing.
- 金坛雀舌 Que She (Tongue of golden altar sparrow)
originate in Jin
Tan city of Jiangsu Province.
the tea plant
is known for mountain-grown organic green tea as well as white tea and oolong
tea. The coastal mountains provide a perfect growing environment for tea
growing. Green tea is picked in spring and summer seasons.
- 茉莉花茶 Jasmine tea (Mo Li Hua Cha)
A tea with added
A steamed tea
also known as Gyokuro (Jade Dew) in Japanese, made in the Japanese
example of a Chinese green tea, called Mao Jian.
A Chinese famous
tea also known as Green Tip, or Tippy Green.
"precious eyebrows"; from Jiangxi, it is now grown elsewhere.
A well-known tea
within China and recipient of numerous national awards.
A tea also known
as Cloud and Mist.
is home to several varieties of tea, including three Chinese famous teas. These
A tea from Huangshan
also known as Big Square suneet.
A Chinese famous
tea from Huangshan.
A Chinese famous
tea also known as Melon Seed.
A Chinese famous
tea also known as Monkey tea.
A tea from Tunxi
A tea from Jing
County, also known as Fire Green.
known since the Song dynasty. Since 2002 Wuliqing is produced again according
to the original processing methods by a company called Tianfang (天方). Zhan
Luojiu a tea expert and professor at the Anhui Agricultural University who
relived its production procedure.
tea from many provinces, an early-harvested tea.
Also known as Meng
Ding Cui Zhu or Green Bamboo.
yellowish-green tea with sweet aftertaste.
Ryokucha?) is ubiquitous in Japan and therefore
is more commonly known simply as "tea" (お茶,
ocha?). It is even referred to as
"Japanese tea" (日本茶, nihoncha?) though
it was first used in China during the Song Dynasty, and brought to Japan by Myōan
Eisai, a Japanese Buddhist priest who also introduced the Rinzai school of Zen
Buddhism. Types of tea are commonly graded depending on the quality and the
parts of the plant used as well as how they are processed. There are large variations
in both price and quality within these broad categories, and there are many
specialty green teas that fall outside this spectrum. The best Japanese green
tea is said to be that from the Yame (八女, yame?) region
of Fukuoka Prefecture and the Uji region of Kyoto. The so called Uji area has
been producing Ujicha (Uji tea) for four hundred years and predates the
prefectural system. It is now an a combination of the border regions of Shiga,
Nara, Kyoto, Mie prefectures. Sōraku District, Kyoto is among many of the
tea producing districts.. Shizuoka
Prefecture produces 40% of raw tea leaf.
Gyokuro is a
fine and expensive type that differs from Sencha (煎茶) in
that it is grown under the shade rather than the full sun for approximately 20
days. The name "Gyokuro" translates as "jade dew" and
refers to the pale green color of the infusion. The shading causes the amino
acids (Theanine) and caffeine in the tea leaves to increase, while catechins
(the source of bitterness in tea, along with caffeine) decreases, giving rise
to a sweet taste. The tea also has a distinct aroma.
- Kabusecha (冠茶?,
Kabusecha is made
from the leaves grown in the shade prior to harvest, although not for as long
as Gyokuro. It has a more delicate flavor than Sencha. It is
sometimes marketed as Gyokuro.
- Sencha (煎茶?,
The first and
second flush of green tea made from leaves that are exposed directly to
sunlight. This is the most common green tea in Japan. The name describes the
method for preparing the beverage.
long-steamed green tea)
in the processing of the leaves, has been steamed two times longer than usual
Sencha, giving it a deeper color and producing a fuller flavor in the beverage.
- Tamaryokucha (玉緑茶?,
lit. ball green tea)
Tamaryokucha has a
tangy, berry-like taste, with a long almondy aftertaste and a deep aroma with
tones of citrus, grass, and berries. It is also called Guricha.
Lower grade of Sencha
harvested as a third- or fourth-flush tea between summer and autumn. Aki-Bancha
(autumn Bancha) is not made from entire leaves, but from the trimmed
unnecessary twigs of the tea plant.
- Kamairicha (窯煎茶?,
Kamairicha is a
pan-fired green tea that does not undergo the usual steam treatments of
Japanese tea and does not have the characteristic bitter taste of most Japanese
- By-product of Sencha or
Kukicha (くき茶?, stalk
A tea made from
stems, stalks, and twigs. Kukicha has a mildly nutty, and slightly
creamy sweet flavor.
Mecha (芽茶?, buds
and tips tea)
green tea derived from a collection of leaf buds and tips of the early crops. Mecha
is harvested in spring and made as rolled leaf teas that are graded somewhere
between Gyokuro and Sencha in quality.
(coarse) powdered tea)
Konacha is the
dust and smallest parts after processing Gyokuro or Sencha. It is
cheaper than Sencha and usually served at Sushi restaurants. It is also
marketed as Gyokuroko (玉露粉?) or Gyokurokocha.
A fine ground
tea made from Tencha. It has a very similar cultivation process as Gyokuro.
It is expensive and is used primarily in the Japanese tea ceremony. Matcha
is also a popular flavor of ice cream and other sweets in Japan.
Genmaicha (玄米茶?, brown
(sometimes Sencha) and roasted genmai (brown rice) blend. It is
often mixed with a small amount of Matcha to make the color better.
A green tea
roasted over charcoal (usually Bancha).
Tencha ( 碾茶?,
products used for Matcha production. The name indicates its intended
eventual milling into matcha. Because, like gyokuro, it is cultivated in shade,
it has a sweet aroma. In its processing, it is not rolled during drying, and
tencha therefore remains spread out like the original fresh leaf.
Aracha (荒茶?, raw
products used for Sencha and Gyokuro production. It contains all
parts of the tea plant.
Shincha (新茶?, a new
First flush tea.
The name is used for either Sencha or Gyokuro.
instant powdered tea)
tea, used just like instant coffee. Another name for this recent style of
tea is "tokeru ocha," or "tea that melts."