We often have customers coming into the store asking “Do you have a green tea that tastes good?”
Green Tea can be a very bitter cup if it is not brewed properly. The tannin in the tea comes out very strong in Green Tea when either the water is too hot, it is steeped too long, or worse; both water and steeping is wrong.
That said there is also a significant difference in taste from tea to tea just as there is from wine to wine. Like wine, tea has many parallels and taste varies from region to region and even from hill to valley on the same tea garden. Grapes are picked only when ripe, whereas tea is picked approximately every 7 days throughout the growing season. Early spring pickings will be much milder and lighter in cup quality than late harvests. Also where the tea-leaf is plucked on the bush will affect the overall taste.
The most desirable tea-leaves are the hand-plucked ones from the new growth leaves. These leaves are the sweetest and most sought after.
Another variable is the processing of the tea. This will also significantly alter the taste and tannin content in your cup.
Some green teas, particularly Japanese processed ones are only picked, steamed and dried. Japanese type teas will be ‘grassy’ in taste and much more susceptible to bitterness if over-steeped or steeped too hot. They are however, if made correctly, the sweetest and most mellow of all teas.
Next you must consider the grades of teas available and nowhere is it more self-evident than with the Japanese teas. Look at our selection of Japanese teas and you will notice the basic ones are light in colour with a slightly yellow tone. As the quality moves up you will notice a very vibrant dark green colour in the top teas. A picture is worth a 1000 words here so let one of our trained staff explain the differences.
Other teas such as the Chinese teas are plucked, steamed, dried and the either pan-fried, or further processed. This yields a cup less grassy and more vegetative in taste. There is usually less bitterness with Chinese teas as the further processing yields a lesser amount of tannin in most cases. Here as well the plucking time and area plucked from the bush affects the tea taste and bitterness.
So fortunately there are some teas available that have what we call a ‘taste that suits the North American palate.’ They are listed below and when made correctly will yield a great tasting cup of Green Tea.
Lung Ching or ‘Dragon’s Well’ – Fog Organic – Himalayan Green Tips –
Green pearls – Genmaicha Japan
The above list of teas is a good place to start. These are the teas that most people (who do not necessarily like Green Tea) have enjoyed and are worth a try. Pick up a 10 gram sample bag and give them a try. Just remember to steep at our recommended time & temperature.
Both the unflavoured Green Pearls and the Fog Organic are the two to try first. They are very forgiving and you may leave the tea leaves in your cup steeping all the while you drink. Doing this will give you much better health benefits because of the longer times the leaves steep. These teas are the best ones for your travel brewers because you can simply place your leaves in the bottom, add your water and travel simply adding water later to top up your tea!