Wondrous World of Green Tea: China and Japan

It may surprise you that all teas (green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong, Pu-erh, and even matcha) all come from the same exact plant, the Camellia sinensis. In order for a drink to be truly considered a tea, they must come from the leaves, buds, or stems of this evergreen shrub species. This means that things like lemongrass “tea”, chamomile “tea”, or hibiscus “tea” are actually not really tea at all. They are what are called tisanes, or herbal infusions.

So, what is green tea?

Although all teas come from the same plant, what makes them different from each other is through factors such as how they are grown (geography, climate, and culture) as well as how they are processed after picking. Different ways for curing the tea leaves produces a large variety of flavors that makes each tea unique. Green tea, in general, is a tea that is not put through the same withering and oxidation process that makes dark teas like oolong and black tea. Upon harvesting, the tea leaves are quickly heated through pan firing or steaming, then immediately dried to prevent oxidation that will alter is fresh flavor. If the leaves are allowed to oxidize, they will turn a rich dark brown and completely change in flavor profile, thus becoming something like black tea!

How do you brew green tea?

Properly brewing green tea is very important for experiencing its intended flavors. Improper brewing, such as using too hot of water, will result in an unpleasantly bitter and astringent tea. Unless specified on your tea’s packaging, 2 grams of loose-leaf green tea per 8 ounces of water is usually a safe bet. Green tea is ideally steeped with fresh filtered water between 160 – 190 degrees Fahrenheit (71 – 88 degrees Celsius) for about 30 seconds to 3 minutes.

 

When steeping, be sure to cover or lid the brewing vessel in order to trap all the heat in. High quality or early harvest teas are very delicate and are steeped cooler and shorter, while lower quality or regular harvest teas are steeped hotter and longer. Never scorch your green tea with boiling water! Higher quality loose leaf green teas are also usually steeped multiple times as it is packed with a lot of flavor that should not be wasted. When properly brewed, green tea is yellow or a light beige in color.

Differences between Chinese and Japanese Green Teas?

Not only are there many different types of teas, each type of tea has many more of their own subcategories! For instance, Japanese and Chinese green teas differ in their processing procedure, creating very different flavors.

1.Chinese Green Tea

Chinese green tea, the original green tea, is typically allowed to become slightly fermented before being pain fired in a basket, pan, or mechanized rotating drum. Different Chinese green teas are created through the number and type of firings, but are generally known to have a grassy, earthy, and roasted flavor. Styles of Chinese green teas come in the thousands. But some popular teas include the Longjing (Dragonwell) tea, and the Gunpowder tea. Longjing is considered a classic pan-fired tea, and is characterized by its smooth, sword-shaped appearance and its toasty flavor. Gunpowder tea is fired in a perforated metal tumbler, where the leaves are tossed around in a figure eight pattern to become pellet-like. Something you most likely have heard of is Jasmine green tea, the most famous scented tea in China. This type of green tea is scented with the aroma from jasmine blossoms and results in a flavor that is subtly sweet and highly floral like a fragrant perfume.

A very prestigious type of jasmine green tea is the Jasmine Dragon Pearl Tea. This high-quality tea is created through an early harvest of soft and tender buds in early spring, where the tea is processed and scented with jasmine, then hand-rolled into pearls. This type of tea can be found in our collection under the name, Zen Pearl. When hot water is poured over the tea, the pearls slowly bloom open and release its robust flavors and rich floral fragrance of jasmine blossoms.

2. Japanese Green Tea

The Japanese style of green tea, unlike Chinese green tea, is created through steaming of the leaves immediately after harvest to halt any oxidation and fermentation. Because of this, Japanese green tea retains more chlorophyll which results in a rich green color and a sweet and vegetal flavor profile. Some popular types of Japanese green teas include Gyokoro, Genmaicha, Sencha, Hojicha, and Matcha. Gyokoro is considered Japan’s most treasured tea – the leaves are shaded during the last few weeks before harvest to intensity its color and flavor and are rolled into its distinct needlelike shape during processing.

Matcha is shade-grown like Gyokoro, but its leaves are ground into a powder instead being shaped or rolled. This green tea powder is a staple in Japanese tea ceremonies are have become a popular ingredient in many modern-day desserts and drinks. We offer a high quality, ceremonial grade organic matcha mix in our store! Our authentic matcha is sourced directly from Shizuoka, Japan, where the tea leaves are grown in the shadows of Mount Fuji and irrigated with the pristine spring water from the ancient mountain itself. A touch of sweetness from all natural cane sure is added to balance the savory and bitter tastes of our first-harvest matcha.

Sencha is considered the most popular tea that is drunk by households and restaurant throughout Japan. Its tea leaves are steamed and rolled into skinny long strands, and is described to have a vegetal and seaweedy flavor. Sencha represents 80% of the tea produced by Japan, and used to create other teas! For instance, Genmaicha is created through blending Sencha tea with popped rice, resulting in a toasty tea that is greatly paired with food. Hojicha is created through roasting Sencha over high heat, resulting in a smokey an nutty flavor. Sencha is featured in our Mori tea where it is paired with premium Uji Matcha from Kyoto. This earthy infusion of Sencha and Matcha tea makes for a absolutely delicious cold brew that is also high in antioxidants!

Drink more tea for a healthier you!

The art of tea-making is truly beautiful and complex. It requires great care and meticulousness to create the wide varieties of flavor for our enjoyment. But not only is tea delicious, it is also very beneficial to our health! Green tea has many great properties such as being able to lower heart disease, protect your body against free radicals, improve brain function, aid in weight loss, as well as boosting your immunity. So if you haven’t already, consider beginning your journey in the world of green tea!

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