Green Tea is a term used to describe a category of teas. They are made from tea leaves that are steamed or roasted right after being picked, bypassing the fermentation process that is used to make black teas, which would make the taste stronger. Instead, Green Teas have a lighter, grassier taste.
The Japanese are not big on black tea, but they have endless varieties of Green Tea that to an uniformed Westerner might just all seem like one kind of Green Tea. Japanese Green Teas brew a heavier beverage than do Chinese Green Teas.
To make Green Tea, the tea leaves are harvested, spread out to wilt, then pan toasted or steamed, then rolled in balls, which presses out some moisture. Then, they are spread out onto trays and baked low and slow, being agitated all the time to prevent charring. The leaves are ready when they are a faded green colour.
Because the tea wasn’t fermented:
- the taste is weaker, and so shouldn’t be subjected to really boiling water during brewing;
- the tea has a shorter storage life than black tea, because it didn’t have the extra processing;
- the tea has less caffeine than black tea, because less oxidization took place.
Green Teas are categorized by how they were grown, and subsequently processed. The younger the leaves, the better. The different kinds are named mostly after the processes used, with the area of production sometimes mentioned.
- You use very hot but not boiling water. Water that is too hot can bring out bitterness;
- Can be drunk hot or cold;
- Milk and sugar are never used in the tea;
- You can brew several batches of Green Tea from the same leaves.
Literature & Lore
“Strong green tea is highly pernicious, and should never be partaken of too freely.” — Mrs Beeton. Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. Chapter 37, Beverages: To make tea.