With all the hype about green tea, you may have wondered about its origin and method of processing. You may also be interested in its taste or famous varieties. Without any further ado, let's answer these queries one by one and also learn how to brew a perfect cup of your favorite tea.
According to Chinese folklore, almost 4500 years ago, there lived a Chinese Emperor Shénnóng.The legend goes that one day, the Emperor's servant accidentally served him boiled water in which a tea leaf has fallen. Emperor drank this water, without noticing the change of color. He was utterly amazed by the refreshing taste and incredible flavor, thus discovering the mythical drink.
During ancient times, tea was considered a luxury and was only affordable to the elite class of Chinese society. Later, people who came to China for study or business were responsible for introducing tea to other parts of the world. Over time, everyone was able to access tea. Thus, drinking tea become an integral part of our diet.
It may surprise you, but green tea is made from the same plant Camellia sinensisas other types of tea such as black tea, oolong tea, or white tea.However,it is the least oxidized tea, which means it goes through minimal air exposure and heat treatment.
The following flow chart briefly summarizes the green tea processing.
Tea leaf starts oxidizing (fermenting) as soon as you pluck it. Thus, to minimize this fermentation process, the stage of withering, i.e., exposure to air or sunlight, is extremely short or nonexistent.
Tea leaves then go through fixationto entirely stop fermentation. This stage involves moderately heating tea leaves using the cooking method of pan-frying, steaming, or oven-roasting.
Next stage is of rolling/cooling and drying the leaves to shape them. The shape and texture of leaves would depend on the number of rolling and drying steps it goes through. Hence, this stage may be repeated to obtain the desired shape.
Although all green tea comes from the same plant, they vary in taste, color, and texture. One of the reasons for these variations is the slight changes in tea processing. For example, changing the duration of applied heat and the cooking method may alter the final taste of tea. Moreover, the final texture and shape of leave would also determine the amount of natural oil infused and released during brewing.
Hence, tea taste may vary depending on the location of tea grown, time of the year it is cultivated, part of tea plant used, and the method of processing it undergoes.
Usually, China style teauses the technique of pan-fryingand has more toasty, earthy, and nutty flavors.On the other hand, Japanese style teamostly uses the traditional method of steamingand has grassy, vegetal, creamy, and sweeter flavors.
As you may have noticed, there are many numerous types of tea available in the market but the most popular tea comes from China and Japan. Some of these varieties are mentioned below.
If you don't follow the right steps of brewing, it is highly probable that your green tea will have an overpowering bitter taste. When brewed correctly, depending on the variety you use, high-quality tea would be yellow, green, or light brown. Most importantly, it would not have a biting bitter taste.
By following the steps given below, you would be able to enjoy the traditional taste of green tea.