What is Green Tea?

Green tea is one type of tea that is made from the Camellia sinensis buds and leaves. It is from the same plant that is used to make black teas and oolong teas. The only difference is that green tea does not undergo the same oxidation and withering process. Green tea was originally produced in China. But its production has spread throughout other countries in Asia. In this article, we are going to find out more about green tea and its benefits.

Green Tea Origins

Even if green tea came from the same plant species such as Camellia sinensis and Camellia sinensis assamica. Today, different types of green teas are grown and produced all over the world, including Japan, Taiwan, Hawaii, Bangladesh, China, and India. However, green tea was initially created in China. In fact, some say that the word “tea” in China only refers to green tea. Yunnan province is considered to be the original producers of the Camellia sinensis plant.

According to a popular legend, the creator of tea was Emperor Shennong of China. He first discovered tea around 2737 BC when fresh tea leaves fell into his cup of hot water. Emperor Shennong is also known as the inventor of Chinese medicine.

Types of Green Tea

If you are a regular tea drinker and you’ve tried various kinds of green tea, then you may have noticed that not all green tea tastes the same, even if they came from the same plant. It is is because the taste of green tea depends on the processing and cultivation methods that the tea growers use. Some of the aspects that affect the taste of green tea are the time of the year when the tea is harvested, the part of the plant harvested, and whether the plants are organically grown or treated with chemicals.

The green tea’s final flavor also depends on whether it is produced in a hot and tropical climate or cold and mountainous regions. However, the widely consumed and most popular types of green tea came from China and Japan. Green teas from these countries all have a different flavor that is based on how they are grown and processed. Japan steams their tea while China pan fires them. Let’s take a look at some of their famous green tea varieties.

Japan Green Teas- Steamed

Japanese green tea is categorized by steaming, and they treat their tea leaves briefly just hours after it was plucked. This is to break the oxidation process and bring out the tea leaves’ vibrant green color. Steaming the tea leaves creates a one of a kind flavor profile that tastes vegetal, and sweet. With that being said, some of the famous Japanese green teas are:

  • Sencha – Almost 80 percent of the tea that is produced in Japan is Sencha tea. It is the most famous tea in Japan and it is consumed in restaurants and households all over the country. Sencha tea is made from steamed tea leaves that are rolled into skinny and long strands.
  • Hojicha – When Sencha tea is roasted over high heat, it produces Hojicha tea. This type of green tea has a nutty and roasted flavor.
  • Gyokoro – In order to produce Gyokoro green tea, the tea leaves are shaded during the last few weeks before it is harvested to create the color and flavor of the tea. Gyokoro tea is rolled into a thin needle-like shape, and it is considered to be Japan’s most treasured tea.
  • Genmaicha – This tea is a blend of green tea and roasted and popped rice. This has a toasty taste, and it is usually served with food.
  • Matcha – Matcha green tea is shade-grown, just like the Gyokoro tea. Instead of being shaped and rolled just like other teas, the tea leaves that are used in making the Matcha green tea are grounded until it turns into powder. Matcha green tea is usually used in Japanese tea ceremonies, and it has become a very popular ingredient for cooking.

Chinese Green Tea – Pan Fired

The Chinese style green tea is categorized by pan firing. It is where tea leaves are heated in a pan or basket, then it is put in a rotating drum to break the oxidation process. Some Chinese green teas are fired more than once, depending on the style of tea that is being created. They fire their green teas in steel wok-like pans, wicker baskets, metal drums, and other containers over a gas flame, charcoal, or hot air. Generally, pan-fired Chinese green tea has a yellowish-green or dark green color with an earthy, roasty, and grassy flavor. These are some of the famous Chinese green tea:

  • Gunpowder – This type of Chinese green tea is fired in punctured metal tumbler where the tea leaves are tossed around in a figure-eight pattern. The gunpowder green tea got its name from the pellet-like shape of the processed tea leaf.
  • Dragonwell – This Chinese green tea has a flat, smooth, and sword-like shape. It is considered to be the original pan-fired Chinese green tea because its pan-fired and toasty taste cannot be copied by other green-tea producing regions.

Benefits of Green Tea

  • Green tea has bioactive compounds that help improve overall health – Tea, in general, contains polyphenols that helps reduce inflammation. However, green tea contains 30 percent polyphenols and large amounts of catechin, which are natural antioxidants that prevent cell damage. 
  • It can help improve brain function and make you smarter – Green tea doesn’t just help you stay awake; it can also make you smarter. Green tea has caffeine and amino acid L-theanine, which helps to increase dopamine levels and the production of alpha waves in the brain.
  • Green tea can increase the fat burning process and improve physical performance – Most fat burning supplement has green tea on it because research shows that green tea boosts the body’s metabolic rate. 
  • Green tea can help lower the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s – Multiple research shows that the catechin that can be found in green tea have several protective effects on neurons that helps reduce risk of these certain diseases.