Welcome to green tea! Here we will explore the wonders and debunk some myths around the tea that, before World War II, was the most popular tea in the United States.
Green tea originates from China in 2700 BC! While the tea that they imbibed in those days is very different from what we drink now, the evolution of tea from then until now is a fascinating story.
Green tea is processed rapidly. This helps to retain a large amount of the leaves' natural antioxidant properties.
First, the leaves are steamed or fried in pans right after they are picked. Next, they are rolled to further reduce moisture content. Finally, they are cooked (or “fired”) to lose 98% of their original water content.
Green tea generally has a shorter shelf life than black tea, but even the most delicate varieties, properly stored, can last up to a year with minimal flavor loss.
Like all tea, green tea is very healthy. It rehydrates, provides essential minerals, is high in antioxidants, and contains l-theanine, a relaxing agent.
Unlike all tea, green tea has reputation—you either love it or hate it. Some common misconceptions about green tea are:
- Green tea is bitter.
- Green tea tastes like grass.
- Green tea has little to no flavor.
Let’s tackle these one at a time.
Green tea can certainly be bitter. However, there are three likely causes for this: too-hot water, over-steeping, and low-grade tea. Proper water temperatures for green tea range from 160°F for delicate greens like Sencha to around 185°F for more hardy greens like a Ceylon Green.
Too-hot water will burn the delicate leaves, and "stew" the liquor, resulting in an unpleasant, very astringent, bitter mess. If this happens, it is best to discard the liquid and re-steep the leaves with water of a proper temperature. Over-boiled water, likewise, creates a flat, lifeless brew. Try to remove the water from heat before it boils.
Filtered or spring water really makes a difference with green tea. We don’t recommend tap water. Trust us, give it a try—you’ll thank yourself night and day when you taste the difference.
Over-steeping is another common error. To learn how to properly steep a tea, try little samples of it every twenty to thirty seconds while it steeps. Use a timer! You will learn to taste the difference. Once you know the proper time for that particular tea, you are more than halfway there! All of Zhi’s teas include general steeping guidelines.
As for a grassy taste—yes, some green tea is quite grassy or vegetal in nature. This is a highly sought after quality and indicates a quality green tea, especially if the flavor lingers and produces a round, complete flavor profile—especially if it has a hint of natural sweetness. For those seeking a great introduction to a grassy or vegetal green tea, look no further than Dragonwell, a traditional tribute tea from China. Another popular choice is a high-quality Japanese Sencha, another pan-fired high-antioxidant green tea.
For a more complex and less vegetal green tea, try the succulent Snow Mountain Green. This tea is an exquisite treat that has a nuanced flavor reminiscent of the green oolongs.
For those new to green tea and a bit cautious, we recommend Dragon Phoenix (jasmine pearls) and Tropical Green. Both of these teas are of exceptionally high quality with essences of jasmine blossoms and fruit pieces, respectively.
If you have had trouble in the past with watery or flavorless green tea, your search has ended. High grade green tea is full of flavor. Additionally, it is chock full of antioxidants (EGCG), trace minerals, and vitamins A, C, and E.