Organic Green Tea - Millions of people all over the world drink tea daily, and many tea lovers opt for a cup of fresh, organic green tea every day.
Introduction to Organic Green Tea: What is Green Tea?
After black tea, green tea is the second most popular tea variety. Because of the immense variation in flavor, taste and even the color of the tea leaves and the liquor, many tea drinkers are taken by surprise on finding out that both black tea and green tea come from the same plant: Camellia Sinensis.
Indeed, there is no such thing as a green tea bush, from which the tea leaves that make up green tea are plucked.
In general, green tea differs from black teas and oolong teas only in the production process.
While black teas and oolong teas undergo a long oxidation process, which is the process of exposing tea leaves to oxygen, resulting in their darker color and deeper, bolder flavors, green tea undergoes little to no oxidation process.
Instead, organically grown green tea leaves are plucked, withered (which is the process of allowing the moisture in the leaves to evaporate, so that the leaves take on a rubbery texture, safeguarding them from breakage), and then immediately dried, so that further oxidation doesn’t take place.
This short withering and drying process allows green tea to retain the deep green color of fresh tea leaves.
Cultivation of tea in varying regions of the world, variability in plucking season, and the methods in which the leaves are dried gives rise to a variety of green tea, with nuances in their appearance, flavors and aromas.
While Chinese green teas are dried by roasting in a dry wok, oven or rotating cylinder, Japanese green teas are often dried under bursts of steam.
Organic green tea in Nepal is withered with the help of an enzymer machine, and then dried in ovens.
History of Organic Green Tea:
In China, the birthplace of traditional teas, organic green teas have been prepared and enjoyed for thousands of years. Archeologists and historians date the cultivation and consumption of green tea to the Han Dynasty, over 2,225 years ago.
At the time, green tea was mainly a medicinal drink. It wasn’t until the Tang Dynasty that organic green tea became a popular beverage, enjoyed for its taste and calming effects. Eventually, green tea not only became an integral part of Chinese culture, but also became a currency for trade. Green tea, cooked and packed into cakes, were traded across the world for goods, such as war horses.
It was during this time, when the transport of green teas across vast and difficult landscapes became necessary for trade, that the process of steaming green tea leaves was invented. By steaming, tea makers were able to stop the oxidation of the leaves, making sure that the green tea retained its vibrant color and fresh flavor. Then, the steamed leaves were crushed into a paste and pressed into cakes.
In the past, green tea was pressed into cakes to allow easy transport. Because of the delicate nature of the green tea leaves, it was important to transport the tea with care in order to preserve its taste. Loose-leaf green teas would get easily bruised and damaged during the journey, and hence, they were pressed into cakes.
However, the culture of drinking loose-leaf or powdered green teas were also gaining momentum. The Song Dynasty saw the advent of powdered green teas – just like the matcha that is popular today, and during the late Song Dynasty, high quality loose-leaf teas also became popular. These teas were usually not traded across continents. They were labor intensive, difficult to store and transport, and more expensive than tea cakes.
The flavor profiles of these loose-leaf teas changed drastically and became more palatable and popular with the invention of the pan-firing method of processing green teas. During the Yuan Dynasty, tea makers began to stop the oxidation of green tea leaves by pan-firing the leaves – a processing technique that is still popular today.
However, these teas were still difficult to transport. It was because of their fresh and delicious flavors that regions across China, and then regions across Asia, began cultivating and processing organic green tea in this way. Adapting to the various regions in which tea was now being grown, and the improvisational and experimental styles of processing that region practiced, an array of green tea types came into popular use.
Today, China and Japan are the main producers of some of the best organic green tea in the world. Tea seeds were taken to Japan in the 12th century by Buddhist monks who were inspired by the traditions of tea-drinking in China.
For a long period, Japan only produced powdered green tea that was whisked into water to create a frothy infusion. This method of tea preparation took hold in Japanese tea ceremonies, which are still practiced today. It was only in the 16th century that loose-leaf green tea also became popular in Japan.
Even though the Tea and Horse caravan road ran through the Nepali region, sparking an influx of trade through the region for centuries, the culture of tea did not take root. It was only in the 18th century that Nepal began producing traditional, organic green tea. Compared to the green tea giants, Nepal’s green tea is young, experimental, and still evolving.
The Health Benefits of Organic Green Tea:
The health benefits of organic green tea are backed by huge amounts of research. Some of its most important health benefits are:
- Reducing Stress: Green tea contains a compound called L-Theanine. This compound has the action of promoting relaxation, while also not causing any drowsiness. Many lovers of green tea enjoy the beverage to relax and unwind.
- Boosting Metabolism: Drinking green tea has shown to slightly boost your metabolism. Up to four cups of green tea a day can supplement a healthy lifestyle, with a clean diet and exercise.
A source of Antioxidants: Organic green tea is an incredible source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that remove harmful free radicals in your body, reducing oxidative stress on your cells. A regular intake of antioxidants available in green tea can help with inflammation and may prevent diseases caused by high oxidative stress.
Good for Digestion: Organic green tea tends to be high in compounds called polyphenols. Polyphenols not only add to the delicious flavors of green tea, but can also aid in preventing gastrointestinal problems. In fact, in regions of the world that have a low supply of fresh produce, green tea is a wonderful supplement for digestive health.
- Improves Focus: A regular intake of organic green tea can sharpen your cognitive function. The combined action of caffeine-induced alertness and the balancing, calming properties of the compound L-Theanine can help you maintain a calm alertness and focus.
Green Tea Flavor Profile:
Those who drink organic green tea solely for its health benefits might sometimes believe that the bitter the green tea is, the more healthful it is. However, that is not always the case. In fact, green teas that are well made often are not bitter.
Green teas are often characterized by the flavor notes that are clean, grassy, vegetal, marine, or earthy.
Depending on the region where the tea is grown, when the leaves were plucked, how the tea was processed and even how you brew your tea will give rise to slight changes in the tea’s flavor profile.
Choosing the green tea that suits your flavor preferences means choosing the right type of green tea.
Types of Green Tea:
One of the oldest types of tea in the world, you can find a wide variety of organic green teas in the market today. Some of the most popular types of green tea are:
Chinese Green Teas:
China is known for producing a wide variety of green teas, each with its own unique flavors, aromas, and characteristics. Here are some popular types of Chinese green tea:
- Longjing (Dragon Well): Grown near Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, Longjing is one of the most famous green teas. It has a flat, sword-shaped leaf and a distinctive chestnut flavor.
- Bi Luo Chun: This green tea is produced in the Dongting mountain area near Dong Shan in Jiangsu province. It is known for its tiny, curly leaves and a fruity, floral aroma.
- Huangshan Maofeng: Grown in the Yellow Mountains (Huangshan) in Anhui province, this tea has a unique appearance with its straight, pointed leaves. It has a fresh and delicate flavor.
- Xinyang Maojian: Produced in Henan province, this tea is known for its small, twisted leaves. It has a strong and brisk flavor.
- Gunpowder: This tea, produced mainly in Zhejiang province, is known for its tightly rolled leaves that resemble gunpowder pellets. It has a strong, bold flavor.
- Lung Ching (Dragon's Well) Bi Luo Chun: This green tea is from Zhejiang province and is famous for its flat, smooth leaves. It has a sweet, nutty flavor.
- Tai Ping Hou Kui: Grown in the Huangshan region of Anhui province, this tea is known for its large, flat, and thin leaves. It has a mellow and slightly sweet taste.
- Lu'an Melon Seed: Grown in Lu'an City in Anhui province, this tea is characterized by its flat, oval-shaped leaves. It has a slightly nutty and sweet flavor.
- Liu An Gua Pian: Grown in Anhui province, this tea is unique because it is made from the leaves, excluding the buds. It has a rich and savory flavor.
- Zhu Cha (Gunpowder): While gunpowder tea is often associated with Zhejiang province, it is also produced in other regions. The leaves are rolled into small pellets, and it has a bold taste.
Japanese Green Tea:
Japan is renowned for its green tea production, and several types of green tea are popular in Japanese culture. With beautiful tea wares and traditions to accompany a huge range of green teas, Japan has a set of extremely well-known green teas:
- Sencha: This is the most common and widely consumed green tea in Japan. It is made from young tea leaves and buds, which are steamed and then pan-fired or dried. Sencha has a fresh, grassy flavor and is available in various grades.
- Gyukuro: Considered a high-quality green tea, Gyokuro is shaded from the sun for a few weeks before harvesting. This process increases the chlorophyll content and produces a sweeter, less astringent tea with a rich umami flavor.
- Matcha: Made from shade-grown tea leaves like Gyokuro, matcha is ground into a fine powder. It is whisked with hot water, and the whole tea leaf is consumed. Matcha has a distinct, intense flavor and is often used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.
- Hojicha: Unlike most green teas, Hojicha is roasted after the leaves are steamed, resulting in a reddish-brown color and a nutty, toasty flavor. It has less caffeine than other green teas and is often enjoyed in the evening.
- Genmaicha: This tea combines green tea with roasted brown rice, creating a blend with a unique, nutty flavor. It is sometimes called "popcorn tea" due to the occasional popped rice kernels in the mix.
- Bancha: Made from mature tea leaves and stems, Bancha is harvested later in the growing season than sencha. It has a coarser texture and a milder flavor, often considered more robust and less astringent than sencha.
- Kukicha: Also known as twig tea or stem tea, kukicha is made from the stems, stalks, and twigs of the tea plant. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and a unique aroma.
- Shincha: This is the first harvest of the year, and it is often associated with high quality and freshness. Shincha is essentially a type of sencha, but it is prized for its early harvest and vibrant, lively character.
- Tamaryokucha: Also known as "kuradashi" or "guricha," tamaryokucha is pan-fired like Chinese green teas. It has a tangy, fruity flavor and a curled leaf shape.
- Aracha: This term is used to refer to unrefined tea, often an intermediary stage between processing and the final product. It can be a blend of leaves and stems and is not as refined as other tea types.
Nepal Green Teas:
- Himalayan Mist: This is a floral green tea from Nepal, prized for its smoothness and lack of astringency. Its leaves have a deep green hue and a curled shape.
Ganesha Green: Ganesha Green has distinct marine notes. It has a mellow taste, with an extremely smooth and round mouthfeel. The leaves are vibrant and loosely curled.
- Green Pearls: Green Pearls is a delicate and mellow organic green tea, with vegetal notes. Its name comes from its deep green color and tightly curled leaves.
Farmer’s Green: This is a reserve tea from Nepal. It has the fuzzy and light appearance of white tea.
- Local Pu’er: Many different types of uncategorized steamed green tea cakes can be found across Nepal. These organic green teas are often home-grown and hand-crafted, and used for medicinal purposes.
How to Prepare Green Tea?
Preparing green tea is a delicate process. Green tea leaves are sensitive to overly hot water and oversteeping.
While the flavors you prefer in your cup of green tea depends on the type of green tea you choose, it can also depend on how much green tea leaves you use, how hot your water is, and how long you steep your tea.
It is always a good idea not to abandon your green tea once you’ve started the steeping process. Over-steeped green tea can have a huge amount of tannins, which gives your tea a sharp and bitter taste.
Here is a general guide on preparing a delicious cup of organic green tea:
Ingredients and Tools:
- Green tea leaves (loose or in tea bags)
- Fresh water
- Teapot or teacup
- Kettle or water heater
Choose Your Organic Green Tea:
Start with high-quality green tea. The flavor of green tea can vary widely based on the type and quality of the tea leaves.
Measure the Green Tea:
Use about 1 to 2 teaspoons of loose green tea leaves for every 8 ounces (240 ml) of water. Adjust based on your taste preferences.
Green tea is sensitive to water temperature. Heat water to around 175–185°F (80–85°C). If you don't have a thermometer, allow the water to cool for a few minutes after boiling.
Preheat the Teapot or Teacup:
Pour a small amount of hot water into the teapot or teacup to warm it. Swirl the water around and then discard it. This helps maintain the temperature for steeping.
Add Tea Leaves:
Place the measured green tea leaves into the teapot or teacup.
Pour Hot Water:
Pour the hot water over the tea leaves. Ensure the leaves are fully submerged. For the best extraction, it's advisable to pour the water in a circular motion to evenly wet the leaves.
Green tea requires a shorter steeping time compared to other types of tea. Steep the tea for about 1 to 3 minutes. Steeping time can vary based on the type of green tea, so refer to the specific instructions for your tea.
Strain or Remove Tea Leaves:
If you're using loose tea leaves, use a strainer to separate the leaves from the liquid. If you're using tea bags, simply remove the tea bag.
Enjoy As Is or Customize:
Green tea is often enjoyed without milk or sugar, but you can add honey, lemon, or mint if desired.
Enjoy and Resteep:
Some high-quality green teas can be infused multiple times. Repeat the process, gradually increasing the steeping time with each infusion.
- Use fresh, clean water to ensure the best taste. If your tap water has a strong taste or odor, consider using filtered or bottled water.
- While any teapot or teacup can be used, using a teapot with an infuser or a teacup with a built-in strainer can make the process more convenient.
- Store green tea in a cool, dark place, away from strong odors, to maintain its freshness.
Remember, the exact preparation method can vary depending on the specific type of green tea you have, so it's a good idea to check any instructions or recommendations provided on your label.