How to choose the best green tea for you

“I don’t like green tea”

I often hear this statement when I talk tea among many friends and colleagues. A statement I also used when I was younger. I was unaware I could easy access something beyond the green tea you find in a teabag, sitting on a supermarket shelf.

What do you need to know about green tea?

Sencha green Tea in a traditional gaiwan on a wooden bench

Sourcing real green tea is easier than you might think! While it is convenient to pick up a box of tea bags off the supermarket shelf, you may not be aware that the tea used to fill these bags is of much lower quality. It usually consists of the left-over broken leaves or the dust from the whole tea leaves.

I personally find this tea to be bitter, without the depth of flavour that good quality tea is packed with. You will also usually find that these teas contain artificial flavours. There is also the risk of over-brewing your green tea, which is a huge contributor to the excess bitterness and an unpleasant aftertaste. These are the very reasons why I was never a fan of Green tea myself.

“Then I discovered the real thing”

As a tea drinker, I began reading up about green tea. I discovered there was a whole world I hadn’t explored. There’s a multitude of loose leaf green tea varieties out there. Fine green tea is produced in various countries such as Japan, China, Korea, Nepal, Australia, Sri Lanka and beyond. Amazingly, each variety holds its own distinct flavour profile. Not only can you brew your favourite variety warm, but most also taste great as an iced tea.

How is green tea produced?

three types of green tea from the top houjicha sencha and gyokuro compared to a teabag on the right

There are a few different ways green teas are processed. In brief, they are only very minimally oxidised, unlike black teas (which are fully oxidised). Oxidation is a process where the tea leaf’s enzymes react with oxygen soon after plucking. The process slowly turns the leaves brown or darker. It’s also known as withering. To prevent further oxidation, the leaves are quickly dried once plucked, to stop this process.

In Japan, the finest green tea leaves are dried by the process of steaming. In China, the leaves are usually dried by pan-frying. Some green tea leaves are sun-dried. However, for this process, the correct environment needs to be present; dry with low humidity. Of course, this is not possible in some growing regions and countries. Finally, the leaves are rolled or shaped and sorted. They will then go through the final dying stage. The shaping and drying process will play a significant part in the flavour and aroma of the tea. For instance, Chinese green tea may produce a more, toasty flavour as a result of pan-frying. There are so many flavours. Some teas have a grassy flavour, while others have a more vegetal or floral flavour.


What types of green tea are available?

Theere are so many loose leaf teas to choose from! I’m going to throw a few on the table which you may likely come across:

  • Sencha Green Tea (Infused tea) – Japan | Flavour: Smooth with a vegetal and fresh cut-grass profile. Marine, seaweed notes (link to Organic Sencha range)
  • Gyokuro (Pearl of Dew) – Japan | Highest grade green tea. Flavour: Umami, marine, seaweed with a hint of sweetness and sometimes nuttiness (link to Organic Gyokuro range)
  • Houjicha (Roasted tea) – Japan | Flavour: Rich, toasty, wood, nut, hints of smoke (low caffeine) (link to organic range)
  • Genmaicha (Roasted rice / Popcorn tea) – Japan | Mild astringency, toasty, nut, vegetal and marine notes
  • Matcha (Powdered Green tea) – Japan | Notes of astringency, marine, seaweed, vegetal, fresh-cut grass
  • Long Jing (Dragon Well) – China | Flavour: Mild vegetal and chestnut. Slightly sweet, balanced and smooth
  • Bilouchun (Green Snail Spring) – China | Flavour: Known for its fruity Apricot profile, with notes of vegetal and fresh-cut hay
  • Anji Bai Cha (Anji White Tea) – China | Flavour: Vegetal, fresh-cut grass, nutty, buttery and woody. A hint of sweetness
  • Woojeon – Korea (Before Rain)| Flavour: Mellow, savoury, nutty, with some vegetal or marine notes. Not unlike Japanese tea.

Why is green tea good for you?

Three types of tea in clockwise direction Sencha, oolong and gyokuro

The health benefits of tea have been documents for thousands of years. Green tea naturally contains an array of antioxidants and provides many health benefits. Due to the minimal oxidation during processing, they hold a higher level of nutrients than other teas. All tea, particularly green tea contains high levels of Polyphenols (including flavonoids commonly known as tannins).

Flavonoids contain catechins; ECGC being the most powerful. Flavonoids produce antioxidant properties which help protect the body against cell damage, neutralising free radicals that could cause cancer. Flavonoids can also have an astringent effect on the body’s tissue. L-Theanine is an amino acid found in tea that could help reduce stress or anxiety. Caffeine – found in high levels in green tea, can help enhance concentration and reduce fatigue.

Drinking green tea may also help boost the immune system, reduce cholesterol and detoxify the body. Additionally, it contains iron and various vitamins and it may promote weight loss…the list goes on. Loose leaf is better for you as it will offer greater health benefits, contains more antioxidants and you will experience its true flavour.

Is organic pure green tea better?

The short answer is yes. While it’s not always convenient to access organic green tea, I would recommend this where possible. There are a wide range of organic greens teas available these days, also through our Fine Infusions range. You just need to be mindful that some Chinese green teas, for example, may have come in contact with pollutants, dependent on the growing region. In saying this, there are various tea producing regions in countries like China that grow premium quality, beautiful tea, without contact with harmful toxins.

How to brew green tea

There is an art to brewing the perfect cup of tea. The key is in the steeping time and water temperature to avoid the bitterness. It is best without milk. First of all, get yourself a teapot or tea infuser, depending on your preference. Never use soap to clean out your tea vessel and utensils, as it can affect the flavour of future brews. A thorough rinse with hot water will do the trick! I would also recommend using filtered water or spring water to brew your tea. This will reduce the impurities in won’t compromise the flavour.

  • A high quality green tea is best brewed at:
80°C / 176°F for 1-2 mins
Approx. 1.5tsp (3g) per cup is suggested
  • Some specialty teas such as Gyokuro, Matcha or Sencha should be brewed at an even lower temperature:

60-70°C / 140-158°F for 1-2 mins

  • Green teas such as Houjicha are roasted and can tolerate a higher temperature:

90°C / 194°F for 1-2 mins

This brewing information is accessible online. Brewing instructions come with our Fine Infusions products, so there is no second-guessing!

Happy brewing and enjoy your tea drinking journey… xx

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