There are many varieties of tea available, all with their own distinctive taste and aroma. It is perhaps surprising then that white, green, oolong, black and pu-erh tea are all produced from the leaves of the same plant, the Camellia sinensis.
The difference in the taste and flavour are influenced, not only by weather conditions and soil type, but also from the processes that the leaves are subjected to after they are harvested. The main process which influences the flavour is oxidation. In general, the less a tea is oxidised, the gentler its taste will be.
In this first of a series about the different types of tea, we will be taking an in depth look at green teas: how they are produced, which teas belong to this group of teas and some of the benefits of drinking this particular type of tea.
Green tea mainly originates from China and Japan. The fresh leaves are plucked in the morning and can be brewed in a pot later that day. Immediately after plucking, the leaves are heat processed which prevents oxidation, which is the reason why the dry leaf retains its rich, natural green colour. As well as retaining its colour, tannins, vitamin C and other minerals withstand the process, making green tea one of the healthiest options available.
Traditionally, there are two methods for the heating process. In China, the preferred method is roasting, whereas in Japan leaves are normally steamed at a high temperature. These two processes have a distinct impact on the final flavour of the leaves.
The Chinese method produces a lighter body tea and can have an aroma ranging from nutty to a more delicate citrus flavour. The Japanese tea produces green tea in a variety of different colours, from the pale green of Sencha to a deeper, richer green of a Gyokuro.
By definition, leaves that have been steamed hold more moisture and have, therefore, a more delicate flavour. It is recommended that teas processed in this manner should be kept at cooler temperatures to preserve the freshness.
The high theanine content of green tea, which is typically around 1%, is a direct result of the lack of oxidation. Therefore, it acts as a stimulant without having a negative impact on sleep patterns and creating insomnia. The caffeine content of Chinese green teas (30-35 milligrams of caffeine per cup) is slightly higher than Japanese green teas (25-30 milligrams per cup).
The health benefits of drinking green tea are widely reported. They include boosting metabolic rate, which can help to burn fat and aid weight loss, lowering the risk of cancer due to the antioxidants present and being good for your skin.
The recommended preparation of green tea is to use water temperature between 75ºC and 80ºC (around 170F).
To discover Tèaura’s selection of green teas, click here.