7 Common Questions About Green Tea

This is part of an ongoing series exploring the main varieties of tea. Subscribe for free to stay updated when new posts are added.

Three varieties of green tea

Three varieties of green tea: Gen mai cha (top left), citron green (top right) and cocomint green tea (bottom). Photo by tim7423.

What is green tea, exactly?

Green tea is tea produced from Camellia Sinensis that hasn’t been oxidized. The lack of oxidation ensures that the tea leaf retains more of its original flavour, colour and health benefits.

Despite the name, infused green tea isn’t necessarily green. Often, it appears yellow or golden, with only a faint hint of green. The “green” in green tea refers primarily to the colour of the leaf.

Where is green tea grown?

The world’s foremost green tea producers are China and Japan, though green tea is also grown on a smaller scale in Taiwan (Formosa), Korea, India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Kenya.

What are some of the most famous types of green tea?

There are hundreds – if not thousands – of types of green tea, categorized according to the where they come from and how they are dried.

Gunpowder green tea, from China, is so named for the way it is shaped into pellet form. Jasmine tea, also from China, is green tea that’s been infused with jasmine blossoms, giving it an aromatic flowery aspect. One of China’s most well-respected teas is Dragon Well (or Longjing), which has a toasty flavour.

In Japan, a country where practically all the tea grown is turned into green tea, Sencha is the brew of choice for many. Matcha is a unique powdered tea which forms a rich green brew with a striking flavour. It is also the type of green tea Starbucks uses in its green tea creme frappuccino, but don’t hold that against it. Two other Japanese green teas deserve a mention: Gen mai cha is green tea blended with roasted rice (and sometimes popped corn); Gyokuro is a premium Japanese green tea with a distinctive aroma, due to the extra shading it receives before harvest.

What’s the best way to brew green tea?

The number one rule when brewing green tea is to allow your water to cool a little before pouring it over your tea leaves. Water that has just boiled will ruin the tea and make it overly bitter. If you’ve had green tea before and thought it was too bitter, that’s probably why. Ideally, the water should be between 77-82°C (170-180°F).

Another key factor in brewing the perfect cup of green tea is how long you allow it to steep. 2-3 minutes is just right, while longer steeping times detract from the tea’s delicate flavour. You can steep the tea several times.

What are the health benefits of drinking green tea?

Extensive research has gone into green tea, which has found that it is generally low in caffeine and high in antioxidants, fluoride, potassium and vitamins A, C and E.

Studies have shown that green tea can, among other things, fight cancer, lower cholesterol levels, improve mental focus, boost the immune system, aid weight loss and help those suffering from arthritis. The extent to which it helps these things is dependent on how much green tea you drink, and of course how healthy the rest of your diet and lifestyle is.

Does green tea contain caffeine?

Yes, it does. All green tea contains caffeine, but how much it contains varies quite substantially depending on the type of green tea you’re drinking, how you brewed it, or whether it’s your first infusion of the tea. In general, green tea contains between 10 and 50 milligrams of caffeine.

See more: How much caffeine does green tea contain?

Where can I buy green tea online?

A good place to start is the Tea Finely Brewed marketplace, where you can browse and compare green tea from different tea merchants.

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  • 1

    Learned something here! Long Jing has been my favourite now for quite some time. On my last stop to the local tea shop I noticed a tea that was just blossoms. That looked kind of interesting for a trial soon :)

  • 2

    Glad to read the tip about letting the water cool. Green tea can sometimes turn my stomach – now I’m thinking I’m just burning it!

  • 3

    I’d like to add that, when you mention the extent to which green tea delivers health benefits – it also depends on the ‘type’ of green tea you drink.
    For instance, matcha green tea is a powdered form of green tea, and therefore delivers a much greater extent of health benefits than traditional steeped teas because you are actually consuming the tea leaf itself.

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