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Another year has rolled around and another St. Patrick’s Day and “wearin’ o’ the green” is approaching. Time to line up those green tea choices. No, we don’t mean tea dyed green — we mean unoxidized tea.

Spring Pouchong - my review (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Spring Pouchong – my review (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what green teas are, but for the one or two that may not know, these are teas that do not undergo one of the processing steps called “oxidizing.” This is where the tea leaves are lightly rolled to break down the cells a bit and allow oxygen to affect them, turning them dark.

Some Fresh Green Teas St. Patrick Would Have Loved

Too bad Patrick (Patricius), a Romanized Gaul who was living in what is now England but got captured as a slave and taken to Ireland, didn’t have teas available. (Tea didn’t reach Ireland for another 1100+ years.) Those monasteries he helped establish, and where hundreds of documents from the defunct Roman Empire were brought and copied, could have done with a boatload of nice hot pots of tea. Especially since they didn’t have central heating!

Here are a few that would certainly have kept the chill from their bones:

  • ChunMee (“precious eyebrows”) — A golden green liquid with a sweet and musty flavor. (More info)
  • Matcha — Tea powder that brews up a thick, frothy, bitter, and bright green drink that is used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. (More info)
  • Assam green tea — Yes, tea producers in the Assam region of northern India have been processing some green teas, as I mentioned recently.
  • Gyokuro — Regarded as the finest tea in Japan, with very deep green leaves; the liquid is light green with a sweet-and-sea taste.
  • Pi Lo Chun (“green snail spring,” “astounding fragrance”) — The small leaves are curled like snail shells; it has a sweet flavor and aroma.
  • Steamed Darjeeling Green Tea — A second flush Darjeeling tea from India, grown at an elevation of 3,000 to 4,600 feet. This orthodox green tea is steamed and has a delicate muscatel taste. (More info)

Don’t Forget Spring Pouchong

As another writer on this blog pointed out recently, some vendors classify Spring Pouchong Tea in with their green teas while others include this tea with the oolongs. Either way, the light flavor will get you in that Irish frame of mind where green rolls across the land like a lush velvet tablecloth. See a review here by another writer and my review.

And Some Flavored Versions

Adding fruits and other flavorings to green tea is an increasingly popular tactic, enjoyed mainly by those who find the flavor of straight green tea too grassy or even bitter. Some popular choices:

  • Blueberry Flavored Green Tea — A green Pekoe Gunpowder with the wonderfully sweet character of natural blueberry flavoring and a pleasing astringency. Serve hot or iced.
  • Jasmine with Flowers Green Tea — Tea from Fujian Province, China, that is grown an elevation of 1,500 feet. It is steamed and has a surprising body and captivating floral taste. The flavor is enhanced with jasmine blossoms. This particular grade is the first grade below the exotic jasmines.
  • Chai Green Tea — Green gunpowder tea from Sri Lanka, grown at an elevation of 5,600 to 6,400 feet. A good green tea character with strong Indian spice notes. Unlike most green teas, this one can be enhanced with milk. (My review)
  • Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose Festival Green Tea — Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose Festival Green Tea is a blend of high quality green tea with sweet cherry and morning rose flavor. (My review)
  • Lemon Green Tea — Lemon Green Tea is a pleasant blend of tart lemon, with the sweetness of healthy green tea. Very refreshing over ice.

Proper Preparation Is Important

Too often, people complain about the taste of their green teas when in fact they tried to steep those teas as they would steep their daily cuppa English Breakfast Tea or other black or even oolong teas. And you definitely can’t treat green teas the way you would treat your pu-erhs. For one thing, green teas don’t hold up well in long-term storage.

Steep guide:

  • Water temp: about 160° F (70° C).
  • Pre-warm the teapot with a little hot water.
  • Use a sufficient amount of tea leaves.
  • Steep for 1-3 minutes.

No excuses now not to have some green on St. Patty’s Day!

See also:
St. Patrick’s Day Tea Time Goes Green!
If St. Patrick Had Had These Teas…
Go Green (Tea) for St. Patty’s Day
Japanese vs. Chinese Green Teas
“I Hate Green Tea”
Some Australian Grown Green Teas

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

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Sencha Japanese Green Tea

Sencha Japanese Green Tea

In the article Some Australian Grown Black Teas, I looked at a few growers in the northeastern part of Australia in the state of Queensland. Now, let’s look at a growing sector of their tea production and one that is becoming increasingly important for them: green teas, which has grown to about 1/5th of all their tea exports.

Japanese growers started looking about 10 years ago at the Manjimup/Pemberton area of Western Australia for the cultivation of a varietal of the tea bush better suited to producing green (unoxidized) tea: the Camellia Sinensis sinensis (versus the Camellia Sinensis assamica from which Assam black tea is produced). The Manjimup Green Tea Company is now well-established.

Green tea drinking is on the rise as the health claims mount, especially in Australia and Germany, but also in the U.S. In addition, Japanese demand for green tea remains steady at 100,000 tons per year with a decline in domestic production, especially in light of the concern, legitimate or not, of tea bushes being exposed to radiation from the tsunami-induced Fukushima nuclear plant failure. They currently import 11,000 tons per year, but that is expected to keep rising.

Thus the importance of this area of tea production for Australian growers.

Australia has the land, the interested farmers, and is close enough to Japan to get the tea there in a fairly fresh state. Plus, the Japanese prefer the quality of green tea from Australia to the tea imported from other countries.

But there are challenges. The Camellia Sinensis sinensis varietal has several key differences from the Assam varietal that make growing them a different matter:

  • their leaf edges are more apparently serrated
  • the bushes are smaller and grow more slowly
  • they have 3 or 4 flushes (periods of active growth) per year
  • they are more cold tolerant
  • a dormant period is needed to produce a distinctive first flush in mid to late Spring
  • the leaves can be steamed to prevent oxidation/fermentation and then dried

So, why the Manjimup/Pemberton area of Western Australia? Several factors:

  • it is similar to the prime Shizuoka area of Japan in latitude, soil acidity, and annual average temperature (15˚ C)
  • Summer temperatures usually do not exceed 35˚ C
  • frosts are fairly uncommon and come mainly in Winter during plant dormancy
  • the soils are well-drained gravelly loams
  • quality water is usually available for irrigation in the warmer months
  • the level of smog and pests is much lower than in Japan
  • Australia has fewer cyclones and earthquakes

The Madura (meaning “paradise”) plantation, another fairly well-known grower “down under” in the Tweed Valley (in northern New South Wales) started producing green teas in 1988 in addition to their black teas. They are one of the top producers in Australia now, with a reputation for quality.

Green tea plantations were established near Gosford (north of Sydney) in 1998 by the Japanese company Kunitaro Company Ltd. and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. Their tea quality is said to be excellent and is targeted to the high value gift market in the New Year period in Japan and other Asian countries. The company aims to increase the hectares planted on the Central coast and lower Hunter Valley and establish a large scale processing plant at Somersby on the Central Coast.

There is also a shincha from a grower outside the town of Wangaratta. It is said to rival those grown in Japan. Who knows what will be next!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

While some of my readers may live in areas of the country that do not usher in the autumnal season in an explosion of colorful foliage, the change from summer into fall is still a much-anticipated time of year. The cooler weather has us reaching for more comfortable clothes and flannel blankets. Best of all, it inspires an increased number of kettles to begin brewing warm pots of tea. Yes, fall has always been my favorite season for those two reasons.

So today, while sipping on a cup of Darjeeling, looking out my window on this brisk October morning, I took in the artistic palette of reds, greens and golds and thought about how they might inspire my own fall tradition of turning over new leaves – and by that I mean trying some new teas.

So here are a few Reds, Greens and Golds that may end up falling into your cup.

Sunshine Lemon Rooibos

Sunshine Lemon Rooibos

Reds
Rooibos, known as Red Tea, is a caffeine-free herbal alternative with lots of minerals and anti-oxidants, which brews up a beautiful red hue in your teacup. The natural sweetness to the taste lends itself well to blending with fruitier elements, such as Sunshine Lemon Rooibos or Strawberry Tingle or warmer dessert-like flavors like Godiva Roche or Bourbon St. Vanilla Rooibos.

Greens
Touted for its many health-giving benefits, yet infinite in varieties, there’s always something new to try with green tea. Consider turning over a new green leaf of tea by trying something different. If you’re used to drinking jasmine green try a genmaicha. Perhaps this is the season you buy a bowl and whisk and the brightly hued powered leaf of Japanese matcha.

Golds
Gold tea? Is there such thing as golden tea? Actually, the name is used quite popularly with the English imported teas, which tend to be hearty Assams and Breakfast blends. So if gold is your color, try any of these from Yorkshire, Barry’s, or Bewley’s.

It’s a wonderful thing to “fall” in love with tea!

Madam Potts’ blog, Mad Blog of Tea!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tea. Lovely tea. As a long time fan of camellia sinensis, I’ve more tea than any sane person should have, stashed away in a large cabinet at home – everything from delicate white teas and sticky sweet matcha to smooth-as-silk darjeelings and it-tastes-like-dirt lapsang suchan. Every morning I have a cup to start my day.

Tea in Switzerland

Tea in Switzerland

But what about when I’m on vacation? How does one have that “tea experience” on the road? And where can I get my fix, uh, cuppa? It turns out that tea while traveling can be part of the vacation experience itself with very little effort.

Taking your favorite tea with you is an obvious first step. A tin, small toiletries bag or a simple zip-lock baggie filled with bagged teas (and don’t forget sweeteners if that’s a must for your enjoyment of the brew) should be in every tea lover’s carry-on luggage. (It’s in my carry-on. And I’m not weird. Mostly.) While baggies of tea won’t have to be brought out at security checkpoints, do be aware that if you – like a certain someone – stuff your carry-on full of tins of various loose leaf teas and several of those really nifty Chinese teas tied up in dried husks that you found in that cool tea shop, you will likely get pulled over and have your luggage rifled through.

Finding places to drink tea while traveling is the obvious next step. From traditional tea houses in Azerbaijan to a café by the Mediterranean in Greece, tea isn’t hard to find when traveling outside of the U.S. Take some time to learn a few words in the local language so you can read a menu and discern the green teas from the black teas. While in Switzerland I found I often had the choice of “tea for one” (one to three cups worth) or a largish pot fit for a small group of people. Take a look around and see what others are having with their tea and be brave. Be bold! Have some of that scrumptious looking cake. I found that a cup of tea and some of the local pastries went a long way towards perking up my traveling companion and I in the afternoon. Two of the most memorable places I’ve been to on recent vacations:

The Dushanbe Tea House, Boulder, Colorado. On 13th Street, within walking distance of great shopping, this teahouse was built in partnership with Boulder’s sister city, Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Heini’s Tearoom, Lucerne, Switzerland. On Falkenplatz, at the corner of Old Town, the pastry choices here are overwhelming and the people-watching is fantastic.

Tea Room Abroad

Confiserie Tea Room in Basel, Switzerland

But it’s not just about drinking tea. It’s also about shopping for tea. In some places you can find specialty stores filled with a wide assortment to choose from. On the same trip to Switzerland I found that these shops were often a visually spectacular combination of tea and spices. Ordinary home decorating stores can wear out your credit card as well – European stores tend to have many more tea-related items to choose from than is commonly available in the U.S. Sexy tea paraphernalia is everywhere, from lovely strainers that sit in the tea cup and allow the tea leaves to swell and brew, to measuring spoons, electric tea kettles, teapots and teaspoons. Antique stores and local flea markets are also a treasure trove for tea lovers with piles and piles of silver teaspoons and old teacups available. I even found large garden pots in the shape of teacups, though they wouldn’t fit in my luggage. Unfortunately.

Even a trip to the museum can be a tea-experience. Learn all about the history of tea and coffee in Europe at the Bramah Museum in London. Find out why half a million pounds of perfectly good tea was dumped into Boston Harbor at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. Peek inside an “excavated” alpine teahouse in the Matterhorn Museum in Zermatt, Switzerland. And be sure to check out the China National Tea Museum and gardens in Hangzhou.

But if all that’s just too much time, expense and distance for you, consider an easier alternative: brew up a cup, turn on the Travel Channel and imagine you’re cruising the Rhine, the Yangtze or the Amazon river in your jammies, brew in hand!

Be sure to check out Fazia’s tea blog, All About Tea! It’s great!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, LLC, and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, LLC., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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