Going Green: The Best Green Tea Varieties for Taste & Health Benefits
Green Tea is one of the most popular healthy drinks in the world with a rich history wrapped up in the origin of tea drinking, and the traditions of concocting a brew for social, spiritual, and medicinal benefits. But ‘Green Tea’ isn’t one definitive thing. It is a broad spectrum of different varietals favoured by different cultures and different palates. So, if you’re going green, you’re in the right place to discover some of the best green teas.
Green teas come from the same plant as black tea—Camellia sinensis. Unlike black tea, green teas are unoxidized. This means they keep their greenish tinge and have a lighter flavour. Traditional methods of processing vary between those produced in China (where green tea was first discovered) and those produced in Japan (where green tea and traditional tea ceremonies are also extremely popular). These methods are used to bring out different flavours and qualities in the brew, but generally involve heat processing to avoid oxidisation.
Due to their unoxidized nature, the health benefits of green teas tend to trump those of black teas and black tea blends. Green teas contain less caffeine and the body responds slightly differently to the caffeine it does contain. It gives you a less jittery, more sustainable boost of energy, avoiding that sudden crash common with black tea and coffee. This means green teas are better companions for exercise and overall energy levels to sustain you through the day. Green teas also contain vitamins and minerals, plus powerful antioxidants which are great for boosting metabolism and the immune system, aiding with weight loss and disease prevention.
There are so many varieties of green tea, it would be impractical to cover them all, so here are our pick of the tea bush!
Sencha is the most commonly drunk variety of green tea. If you buy branded teas that describe themselves as ‘Green Tea’, they are likely to be made with Sencha. The palate of Sencha is grassy and vegetal, with hints of parsley and kale. Drink as a loose-leaf tea for the classic green tea flavour with all the health benefits.
This variant of Sencha is steamed for a longer time giving it a stronger taste and greener colour. It is less grassy and astringent than ordinary Sencha.
Gunpowder Tea (Pearl Tea)
Gunpowder Tea is not so much a varietal as a rolling method for some Chinese green teas. The leaves are withered, steamed, rolled, and dried. They’re rolled into small spheres hence why the Chinese call it ‘Pearl Tea’ and the English call it ‘Gunpowder’ due to the look of the small dark balls.
Another Chinese tea, Chun Mee (meaning ‘precious eyebrows’) has a dusty appearance with a more acidic, less sweet taste than other green teas. It was originally only grown in the Jiangxi province of China, but is now also grown elsewhere.
Long Jing (Dragon Well)
Long Jing is one of China’s most renowned teas. It is pan-roasted, rather than steamed giving it a vegetal, grassy flavour and pale yellow-green colour.
A Japanese varietal, Gyokuro Tea is grown from bushes which are covered with a cloth or reed screen 20 days prior to picking, giving the tea a deeper green colour and a less bitter taste with a rich seaweedy flavour.
Like Gyokura, the bushes for Techa are shaded for a long period, often more than 20 days. However, after steaming the leaves are dried without being rolled. Tencha is usually stone ground and sold as Matcha Tea, but sometimes occurs in leaf varieties.
Matcha is ‘The Hulk’ of the green tea world. It’s big, it’s green, and it’s pretty powerful. It acts a superfood, boosting energy and concentration, while having various other benefits to health and wellbeing. Due to it coming in ground form rather than tea leaves, it contains much higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, as nothing is discarded once the tea is brewed. It’s great for helping with weight loss, tackling hangovers, and boosting energy for work and exercise. It is the tea most commonly used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, Chanoyu, and has recently become popular in coffee shops blended as a healthy latte option.
You can browse our selection of fabulous green teas here [link].