Green tea is produced from the leaves of camellia sinensis, the same plant from which black, oolong, white, and purple teas are made. While it originated in China hundreds of year ago, green tea is now produced throughout Asia, in countries including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Unlike black and oolong teas, green tea is unoxidized, resulting in a lighter color brew and a mellower flavor. There are many different varieties of green tea, whose unique flavors depend on factors such as the location, growing conditions, and preparation process.
Chinese Green Tea
Tea has a rich history in China stretching back centuries. While both myth and archeological research indicate that tea may have been consumed in China as far back as three thousand years ago, its status as a popular staple for both elites and common people arose over the course of hundreds of years. By the seventh century Tang dynasty, however, green tea had become an integral part of Chinese life, and specialized cultivation methods, ceremonial preparations, and cultural significance had developed around tea. Chinese green teas are typically pan-fired soon after they are harvested, which halts oxidation and preserves the green color and the light, grassy taste of the tea.
At Artful Tea, we carry a variety of Chinese green teas. The classic Gunpowder, named after the small, rolled shape its leaves take when dried, is a perennial favorite. Chun Mee is a mellow, buttery green with fruit notes, and is sometimes known as “precious eyebrow” due to the unique shape of its leaves. Dragon Well Superior is famous for its high quality, and has a nutty and refreshing taste.
Japanese Green Tea
Around the sixth century, tea consumption and production spread from China to Japan, as well as to other neighboring countries such as Korea and Vietnam. Today, green tea is often associated with Japan just as much as with China. Unlike Chinese green teas, Japanese greens are steamed rather than pan-fired, resulting in a more vibrant green color and a vegetal, umami-packed flavor.
Artful Tea’s selection of Japanese green teas has something to offer everyone. Sencha, one of the most popular green teas in Japan, brews up a beautiful bright green and has a rich, sweet flavor. Kukicha Twig, produced from the stalks, stems, and twigs of the tea bush, is a unique tea with a nutty, creamy taste. Our Genmaicha is a traditional Japanese tea, containing green tea blended with toasted rice. Genmaicha Matcha, meanwhile, blends matcha with genmaicha tea, resulting in a lovely cup with a stronger green tea flavor.
Artful tea also offers several different varieties of matcha, or powdered green tea. We carry ceremonial grade matcha, used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, culinary grade matcha for use in smoothies, lattes, and more, and even matcha that you can take on the go!
With about half the caffeine of black tea and a quarter that of coffee, green teas still contain enough caffeine to give you a little boost, whether you start your morning with a cup or drink it throughout the day. Green teas are also packed with powerful antioxidants, and can be a healthy alternative to other drinks. While research is still inconclusive, green tea may also have additional health benefits, helping to protect against disease and other illnesses.
If prepared incorrectly, green tea can taste bitter and over-strong, but properly prepared green tea is light and delightful. The key to enjoying a cup of green tea is preparation, which consists of a few simple steps.
To brew a delicious cup of green tea, measure one teaspoon of leaves for every six to eight ounces of water. Heat a kettle of fresh, cold water to the point of steaming briskly, but not boiling. If you have a kitchen thermometer, you will want the temperature to be between 175–180 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the hot water over the tea leaves, allowing them to steep according to package directions, usually only one or two minutes. Steeping green tea leaves for too long, or using water that is too hot, are common mistakes that usually result in a bitter taste.
Interested in experimenting? ArtfulTea offers a variety of flavored green teas, from Jasmine Yin Cloud, a custom blend of Chinese green tea scented with fresh jasmine blossoms, to Green Tea Citrus, a green tea twist on a classic Earl Grey, and many more. Whether you’re looking to explore traditional green teas, or are simply looking for a cup with less caffeine but packed with flavor and health benefits, we’re sure to have the tea for you!