Your first reaction to the article title will be, “Who says I can’t enjoy green tea in the Fall?” And to that I say, “A host of tea experts out there.” Yep, they tell you that green tea is best when fresh, especially if it’s a first flush green tea. Which is usually harvested between March and May, depending on where it’s grown. And said to have a fairly short shelf life, again according to those experts. The reality is a little different. Meaning that yes, you can enjoy green tea in the Fall!

The Myth of First Flush Being Best

A bit of Dragon Pearl Green Tea while leaf peeping sounds ideal! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

A bit of Dragon Pearl Green Tea while leaf peeping sounds ideal! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

There’s no doubt that first flush teas (the first spurt of growth on the tea plants after they awaken from Winter dormancy) are special. They have a delicate flavor not matched by later flushes. However, that doesn’t mean those later flushes (2 to 4, depending on the tea cultivar and where they are grown) aren’t enjoyable. In fact, I have often found them to be even more enjoyable – stronger flavors and often totally different profiles. And there is a wide variety of green tea, and getting wider every day due to increasing demand.

Various taste descriptions (for green teas that don’t have flowers, fruits, spices, etc., added to them) of later flushes:

  • a slightly sweet taste with a mild nutty undertone
  • a distinctive nutty/oak taste (Superior Gunpowder)
  • a light taste
  • full and round, with honey like sweetness, mild astringency and notes of orchid (White Eagle Long Life)
  • Various types of green tea taste different, much like how different brands of chocolate taste different. Some taste nutty, others taste earthy, others taste like clear grass without the bite.
  • a full flavor and a satisfying light refreshing character (Gyokuro)
  • light, smooth, with reasonable depth and body (Sencha)

The Myth of the Short Shelf Life

Green teas will often store as well as black teas. Keep them in a cool place, in an airtight container (preferably a plastic pouch, not a Ziploc bag though, so you can squeeze out excess air before resealing), and away from light (unless the pouch is made of opaque plastic). You should be able to open them, take some of the dry tea leaves out for infusing, and then reseal the package (squeezing out excess air) without any degradation of the tea quality.

Bottom Line

Go for a richer flavor, infuse the tea properly (160°F for 30 seconds to 3 minutes, depending on the type of green tea – see vendor’s instructions or consult someone), and enjoy that healthy (or so the multitude of claims go) green tea anytime, including in the Fall!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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