Green tea is made from the unfermented (unoxidized) leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant. This helps maintain more of the original herby flavour in the fresh leaves.
Once the leaves are plucked, they're heated and dried. The reason for heating is to stop the oxidization process before it changes the phytochemistry and flavour of the plant. This process can vary a lot depending on the country its processed, and the manufacturer.
Cultural Processing Differences
The main difference between Japanese and Chinese teas is in how they heat the leaves. In Japan, the leaves are steamed and dried with gentle heat. This effectively halts the oxidative processes and maintains the teas fresh herby flavor.
In China, the process usually involves pan frying and then drying. This often leaves some oxidase enzymes viable and imparts a slight roasty or smoky flavor to the leaves.
Brewing Green Tea
Green tea has a complex flavour that can easily become bitter and astringent if brewed incorrectly. Most tea experts recommend lower temperatures, and shorter brew times for green tea compared to oolong or black teas. This will produce a delicate, herby flavour with sweet undertones.
When brewing green tea, the generally agreed upon ratio is about 1:85. In other words... 3g of tea for every 250 ml (1 cup) of water.
Generally, about 70C is perfect.
Getting the right temperature is important because if the temperature is too high, the astringent, bitter tannins (polyphenols) will dissolve into the tea more readily. This affects the teas flavour, causing it to taste bitter and astringent.
For finely ground tea, infusion times are about 1-2 minutes, and with coarser grinds about 2-4 minutes.
This can be shortened or lengthened according to preference. There are some exceptions to these guidelines (such as Gyokuro), which are listed in the descriptions below.
Types Of Green Tea:
Japanese. Raw green tea, Contains all parts of the tea plant. It is the half finished products used for Sencha and Gyokuro.
+ Asamushi Sencha
Japanese. The leaves in this style are steamed for the shortest time, which is considered more of the traditional technique. This process is much more gentle, and therefore commonly used on the higher grades of tea. The dry leaves appear large, and needle like with a golden-green liquor produced.
+ Australian Sencha
Japanese style. Australian sencha is grown in the northern Daintree rainforests of Australia, then sent to Japan to be processed in the traditional style with steam processing. It produces a very green, vegetal, and sweet tea. The brewing time is similar to other green teas, except due to its delicate nature, should be brewed with slightly lower temperature, somewhere around 70 C.
Japanese. Lower grade Sencha. 3rd or 4th flush tea picked at the end of Summer or Autumn. This is the common tea drunk throughout the day and goes well with food. It is less aromatic, and more astringent than sencha.
+ Bi Luo Chun
Chinese. Also know as "green snail spring".
+ Dragonwell (Lung Ching)
Chinese. The Chinese name, Lung Ching, translates to Dragonwell. It's a variety of pan-roasted green tea from the Longjing village of China. It's become one of China's most iconic green teas, producing reliably high quality for many years.
+ Fukamushi Sencha
Japanese. This is a modern style of sencha. This tea is steamed for the longest amount of time (nearly double asamushi). This process is not as gentle as asamushi, and is more often used on leaves not suited for that style. This style produces less needle like tea, and more powder. It is generally less bitter, and due to the powder, more constituents are extracted, making the infusion darker, and contains more nutrients.
Japanese. Instant powdered tea. Milled green tea.
Japanese. Brown rice tea. Roasted and popped brown rice, with green tea (usually Bancha or Sencha), and often mixed with Matcha (matcha iri genmaicha) to improve colour. Commonly served in sushi restaurants. Generally, a higher temperature is used to brew this type of tea in order to get the full flavour out of the rice.
Chinese. Also known as zucha is an essential ingredient in Maghrebi mint tea. This tea is characteristically rolled into small round pellets. Doing this allows the inside of the leaves to remain protected, in order to release more flavor when it comes time to infuse. When added to water the balls unfurl and release their flavour slowly. Taste is very fresh, with mellow aftertaste.
Japanese. This rare tea (also known as tamaryokucha) is quite famousfor its rarity, and sweet taste. Guricha is pretty much exclusively produced in Ureshino, Kyusu. The sweetness found in this tea owes itself to its processing technique, skipping the final kneading process, which in turn leaves the dried tea in a unique comma shaped ball.
Japanese. Considered a very high grade tea in Japan. This is a Sencha tea that is grown in complete shade for the final 2 or more weeks of growth. This process increases the amino acid Theanine, as well as the alkaloid caffeine, while reducing catechin content (therefore reducing astringency and bitterness while revealing the sweet undertones that green tea has to offer). The brewing process of this tea is slightly different in order to achieve best results. A little more tea should be used as compared to Sencha, and water temperature should be maintained at 50-60C (slightly cooler than the 75C recommended for Sencha and other teas), and infusion time should be slightly shorter than sencha. It tends to have a very fine line between perfectly brewed and over brewed. Properly brewed gyokuro is heavenly and all should have a chance to taste this amazing tea. The price of this tea is usually much higher compared to Sencha.
Japanese. Green tea (usually Bancha), roasted over charcoal. This process leaves the tea with less caffeine, and tannin, and provides a nutty, toasty flavour, and produces a dark, brown color, which is uncommon for green teas in general. The pan frying (roasting) technique is similar to the method the Chinese usually use with their teas, except with a Japanese grown tea giving a completly different flavor. To brew, use a higher temperature (95C), and short brewing time (15-30 seconds), and can be reused a couple of times if brewed this way. This tea is commonly drunk before bed, or during a meal.
+ Jasmine Green Tea
Chinese. This tea is very labor intensive, and is generally quite expensive for high quality cuts. As the leaves are layed out to dry, fresh, handpicked jasmine flowers are scattered over the leaves to infuse their aroma, to then be hand picked off the next day. Low quality jasmine teas will have jasmine flowers still in the finished product, which will impart a bitter flavor to the tea. Only the aroma is desired when making quality jasmine green tea.
Japanese. This tea is very similar to Gyokuro, however it is only shaded for one week before harvesting. It is a good mix between the rich flavor of gyokuro, and the refreshing taste of sencha.
Japanese. Pan fired. Not bitter.
Japanese. Made from the dust, and smallest parts leftover from processing Gyokuro or Sencha.
Japanese. Also known as Stem and stalk tea or bocha. Made from the leftover stems, stalks, and twigs from Gyokuro or Sencha. This tea produces a creamy, nutty flavor, and makes a light colored liquor. Avoid brewing with too high of temperatures (keep around 85C), to avoid over brewing. This tea is great for calming the stomach after a meal, and is low in caffeine by nature.
Chinese. Originates from Hongzhou, and means "Dragon Well". This tea is pan fired, and is charicteristically flat in its appearence.
Japanese. The fine ground tea made from Tencha. Similar cultivation process as Gyokuro. The stems and leaf veins are removed and the leaves are ground into a very fine powder (<10 data-preserve-html-node="true" microns). The entire leaf is consumed, so 100% of the leaves constituents are used as compared to <40% data-preserve-html-node="true" with most other teas.
Koicha is the thickest, and most intense matcha, using about 1.5-2 tsp of matcha to 40 ml of water and is stirred slowly but thoroughly to avoid bubbles.
Usucha includes a krema (foam) at the top. 2 tsp to 50 ml of water. The matcha is stirred rigourously in order to achieve the krema on the top.
+ Matcha Iri Genmaicha
Japanese. Genmaicha style tea with added matcha to improve color, and add extra green tea flavor.
+ Mau Feng Tea
Chinese. Means "furry peak".
Japanese. Buds and tips of early crops. Graded between Gyokuro and Sencha.
+ Qing Ding
Chinese. Also called green top. Comes from Tian Mu.
Japanese tea, most common tea drunk in Japan. It represents 80% of all tea produced in Japan. There are many different kinds and grades of Sencha, as talked about elsewhere on this page. This tea is grown from the same trees gyokuro comes from, but is not shaded in the final weeks before harvest, and therefore contain higher catechins, and lower amounts of l-theanine. The steaming of sencha only takes about 15-20 seconds in order to stop the oxidation process, while still maintaining the leaves fresh flavor.
Japanese. 1st flush tea. Made from either Sencha or Gyokuro.
Japanese.Also referred to as guricha, has tangy, berry-like, citrus undertones, almond aftertaste. Differs from sencha in how it is processed, which involves steam dehydration. It produces characteristically curly leaves, and different taste than other Japanese green teas. In fact the taste is suggested to be much closer to Chinese curly-leaf green teas.
Japanese. Half finished products used for Matcha production.
Chinese. Another name for the classic gunpowder tea.