What is Green Tea?
Everyone is surprised the first time they learn that green tea comes from the exact same leaf as black tea. They taste so different, and even have different caffeine content - how can it be?
First, some history.
You could say that green tea is the OG of teas. China’s Yunnan province is believed to be the original habitat for the Camellia Sinensis plant, and Chinese folklore suggests that Shen Nong (credited as the inventor of Chinese agriculture and herbal medicine), discovered using it's leaves for tea in 2737 BC.
It’s widely accepted that Zen Buddhist Monks introduced tea, and established tea growing regions, throughout Asia in the 600s.
Most of this history is told through legend and folklore; it wasn't until around 800 AD, during the Tang Dynasty in China, that the first written study of tea was published. The book was called 'Cha Jing' (roughly translated to 'The Classic of Tea'), by a man named Lu Yu, and the style of tea it describes is what we now refer to as Green Tea.
So, what is Green Tea anyway?
While the leaves that become black tea are oxidized after harvest, the leaves which become green tea are immediately heated to prevent oxidation. This quick heating preserves the fresh green colour and flavours of the tea leaves.
Chinese green tea is heated by pan-firing in an actual pan, basket or rotating drum. The flavour of the final tea depends very much on several factors; heating method (charcoal, gas flame, electric heat or hot air), the type of container used (wok-style pan, basket or drum), and the number of firings.
Japanese-style green tea is steamed within hours of harvest, which stops oxidation and brings out the rich green colour of the tea leaves (just like broccoli on your stovetop!).
Why does Green Tea have less caffeine?
Despite this common belief, it actually doesn't! The biggest contributing factors to how much caffeine is in your tea cup are actually how hot your water is, and how long you steep it for. It's suggested to steep green tea at a lower temperature than black tea.
At The Valley Alchemist Tea Co. we currently offer two styles of green tea:
- Gunpowder is a Chinese green tea, fired in a metal drum. The final leaf is rolled tightly into a ball which resembles its namesake, gunpowder. When steeped, the whole leaves unroll and the flavour is rich and lightly smokey.
- Sencha is the most popular style of steamed tea, and accounts for more than 80 percent of the tea produced in Japan! The leaves are typically rolled into long, skinny strands after steaming, and the flavour is light and grassy.
We hope now that your brain is full of knowledge about green tea, you'll enjoy sipping it even more.
Fine art. Ancient history. Totally delicious!
💚 Steep well.