If you’ve been following the flood of reports in the media over the course of the last decade or so you could be forgiven for thinking that green tea is the only type of tea. Never mind that there are five others – black, oolong, white, yellow and puerh. Though all of these types of tea are likely to provide us with some health benefits, the interest in the health benefits of green tea have pretty much overshadowed all of the others.
Green tea is distinct from varieties such as black, puerh and many types of oolong in that it is subject to less processing after the leaves have been picked. Much like yellow and white tea, green is not typically subjected to the oxidization process, which the former go through.
Green tea is produced in a number of countries, but for serious enthusiasts there are really only two points of origin that matter – China and Japan.
In addition to being the world’s top producer of tea, China turns out a number of noteworthy green varieties. While these are quite numerous there are a number that have become quite popular and a few that are nearly household names, at least by tea drinker’s standards. Among them are Longjing or Dragonwell, which is noteworthy for its long flat leaves and distinctive flavor; Mao Feng, which is also known as Fur Tip, and Bi Lo Chun, or Green Snail Spring. Also worth noting is Gunpowder, which is especially popular in northern Africa and parts of the Middle East and which is distinguished by a strong, almost smoky flavor and small pellet-shaped leaves.
Some of the better grades of Japanese green tea are arguably among the world’s best teas overall. Japan’s output of tea is not particularly significant when stacked up against large producers like China, India and Africa but nearly all of it is green.
Some of the best Japanese green teas are the better grades of sencha, though it’s important to note that Sencha can vary greatly in quality. Also worthy of note is Gyokuro, a delicate type of green tea that’s similar to sencha but whose leaves are protected from sunlight for several weeks before the harvest. Also worth mentioning is Matcha, a powdered variety of green tea that was once used primarily for the Japanese tea ceremony but which lately has gained greater acclaim among tea lovers, in general.
Make sure to check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!