Archive for November, 2009

Green Tea Basics

Author: admin

green-teaGreen tea is more than just a refreshing drink.  It provides many proven health benefits as well. 

Green tea contains the highest content of antioxidant compounds, which have been proven to be beneficial in fighting certain cancers, help lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and reduce the risk of sickness.  Green tea has many other health benefits, too.  It’s rich in Vitamins C and E.

All teas are harvested from the same plant.  The processing method creates the different types (Green, Black, Oolong, and so forth).

Green teas are as varied as wines. Their uniqueness depends upon the growing region, the weather, harvest time, and type of processing, just like wine grapes. 

The majority of green teas come from Japan, China, or India. Processing the tea varies among the different regions.  The finest teas come from the young, top two leaves and unopened leaf buds of the plants.  The more basic teas are made with the lower leaves and stems.

After picking, the leaves are spread out in the hot air to wither.   Once they have softened, they are traditionally fried or steamed.   Steaming the leaves prevents them from oxidizing into black tea.  The leaves are then rolled to give them their different shapes.  The shapes not only differentiate the various kinds of teas — They also regulate the release of their natural substances and flavors.   After shaping, the tea is then dried.

There are many different kinds of green teas.   Some of the most common are:

  • Bancha – The basic, every day green tea of Japan. This tea is made from low-grade leaves, imparting a slightly more bitter taste.
  • Dragonwell – A tea from China that has long, flat leaves.  This tea has a mild flavor.
  • Genmaicha – A Japanese tea made from a combination of usually Bancha and roasted brown rice.  This is a lighter tea with a slightly nutty flavor.
  • Gunpowder – A stronger Chinese tea, recognized by its tightly rollet pellets.
  • Gyokuro – The finest Japanese green tea.
  • Kukicha – A mild Japanese tea made from the twigs or stems of the tea bush.
  • Sencha – A mild Japanese green tea made with varying quality leaves.

 

Green tea requires a quicker brewing time from most teas to keep it from becoming harsh or bitter.  Over-brewing is very common, which is why many people say that they have tried green teas and don’t like them. 

To brew the perfect cup of green tea, use about one level teaspoon of tea per 8 oz. cup of water.  Bring your water to just under a boil.  Using boiling water will burn the tea, also making it bitter.  Green tea only needs 1 to 2 minutes of brewing time.  Adjust the quantity of tea or length of brewing to suit your taste.

The used tea leaves can usually be reused for a second cup of tea — just brew it a little longer than the first cup.  

Herbal teas such as Chammomile or Sage are made by placing the herb leaves on the tea leaves.  Floral teas such as Jasmine are made by placing flowers on the tea leaves during the drying process.

You can make your own herbal tea combinations by adding other ingredients, too.  Try lemon rinds, peppermint leaves, ginger…   The variations are endless!