Over the past decade, the popularity of green tea as a health beverage skyrocketed along with a boom in the wellness industry. In particular, matcha, has achieved cult status outside of Japan. However, the neon green powder we all love is not the only type of green tea around. There are over a hundred types of green teas in the world which include Japanese green teas such as sencha and hojicha, as well as Chinese green teas such as Long Jing (Dragon Well) and Zhu Cha (Gunpowder tea). Countries such as Sri Lanka, though not known for their green teas, also produce exceptional ones (our Maple Vanilla Green Tea uses Ceylon green tea).
In today's Getting to Know, we explore how green tea is made, what are some of the differences between green teas, and exactly why green tea is considered healthy.
Green tea production
Green tea, just like all true teas, comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. Most of the time, the leaves are used, however, other parts can also be used. An example - kukicha. Kukicha, also known as twig tea, is a Japanese green tea that is made with the twigs or stems of the tea plant. How we classify green tea is based on how it is processed - green teas are unoxidised. Upon harvesting, the leaves (or other part of the plant) undergo the kill green process. This process halts oxidation by denaturing the enzymes. Traditionally, this is done by either pan frying or steaming, the former commonly used for Chinese teas, and the latter with Japanese teas.
Differences between green teas
Not only does the kill green process halt oxidation, it also fixes the tea's flavour. The taste of green tea is often described as vegetal, like fresh cut grass or marine, like seaweed. This fresh taste is a result of its unoxidised state. What oxidation does is develop deeper, bolder flavours; this is what happens with black teas. As for the difference in taste between green teas, this is due to the terroir and the variant of Camellia sinensis. Camellia sinensis var. sinensis is native to China and is mainly grown in China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Camellia sinensis var. assamica is mainly grown in India, Sri Lanka and Kenya. The assamica is a more robust plant, being able to withstand hotter temperatures and can be grown at lower altitudes. Conversely, sinensis thrives in cooler temperatures and higher elevations. Note: Some Indian teas are of the sinensis variety (e.g. Darjeeling) while some Chinese teas are of the assamica variety (e.g. pu-erh).
Green tea as a healthy beverage
It has become common knowledge that green tea is a healthy beverage, with matcha being the most popular. Green tea is healthy as it contains an abundance of antioxidants which has been linked to health benefits such as lower cholesterol levels, weight loss and the prevention of heart disease. Matcha, which is a powdered green tea made with high quality shade-grown leaves (tencha), contains even more nutrients than regular green tea. This is because we are ingesting the entire leaf and also because higher quality leaves are used to produce matcha. We agree that good quality matcha can be quite expensive, but fret not, as whole leaf green teas, and other types of teas for that matter, are a great healthier beverage too! Try our Genmaicha Matcha-iri - a beautiful blend of first flush Japanese green tea (ichibancha), puffed brown rice grains and matcha for a delicious dose of matcha without breaking the bank.
Phew! That was a lot of information, wasn't it? I hope you're still reading, because here's a discount code for our Genmaicha Matcha-iri! Quote "GOGREEN" to get 10% off. This code is valid till 31 October 2018, 2359 hours.
Watch out for our next post where we explore black teas!
Till next time,