Green tea, the beverage of choice in Asia for many centuries, has recently gained popularity in the western world. Its subtle, complex flavor, as well as the widely acclaimed health benefits, make green tea widely appealing.
Green tea, like black tea, comes from the tea plant Camellia sinensis, but it undergoes a different drying process, which reduces the amount of oxidation that occurs. This tea is generally associated with China, Japan, and other Asian countries, but it’s popularity has been quickly spreading to western areas that have traditionally favored black teas.
How is green tea made?
During the production of green tea, the intent is to preserve the active substances of the fresh leaves until the tea is brewed. Green tea is the least oxidized tea.
After picking, the green leaves are allowed to dry, then once they are soft and pliable, they are heated either pan-fried in woks, or steamed.
This neutralizes the enzyme responsible for the oxidation, preventing the leaves from fermenting in the way they do during the production of black tea.
The leaves are then rolled, which gives them their distinctive style – twisted, curly, or balled – and increases their durability.
The process of rolling also helps to regulate the release of the natural substances and flavor during steeping.
Finally, the leaves are dried by firing which stabilizes the natural fragrances, flavors, and the color of the leaves.
The resulting teas are green, and high in nutrients and minerals.
How to prepare green tea
Green tea needs to be prepared carefully to avoid bitterness. When preparing green tea, it is important to use water below the boiling point and to watch the infusion time to ensure it does not become over-brewed.
You can brew green tea directly in your cup or teapot, or use a diffuser basket. A diffuser basket makes it easy to remove the tea leaves once the tea has finished steeping, or you can pour the tea into a different pot for serving.
Measure the tea into your cup or pot. The amount you need depends on the type of tea and how fine the leaves are, so check the recommendation from the brand you are using.
The type and clarity of the water you use to make tea will affect its quality for obvious reasons. Ideally use water free of chemicals and chlorine, choose filtered or bottled water if you can. If the water tastes good, then your tea will taste good.
Heat the water to 165-185°F. At this temperature, the water will have started to steam but not be forming bubbles.
Then pour the water over the tea leaves and place the lid on the pot. Leave the tea to brew (or “steep”) before serving.
The time it takes to brew green tea depends on the size of the leaf in your blend. As a guide, the steeping time should be around 3-5 minutes. Check the recommendation from your brand of tea.
When your tea has finished steeping, immediately remove the tea leaves, or serve immediately.
How to serve green tea
Green tea is usually served hot, and without any additions.
(It is also good served as an iced tea, with the addition of sliced fruit, though tea purists may dispute that!)
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