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Green Tea
Loose leaves of green tea.

Green Tea

Green tea is a very lowly oxidized type of tea, unlike oolong and black teas which go through an oxidation process. Leaves of Camellia sinensis var. Sinensis are better suited for producing green tea than those from Camellia sinensis var. Assamica which are usually used to make black tea.

Originating in China, production spread out into other areas of Eastern Asia. There are many styles of green tea that differ substantially in flavor, leaf look, and production process.

Green tea has one of the highest antioxidant properties of all tea types. There are many research studies on its health effects, but there is little evidence showing any effects on people's health.

Styles
Styles
Table of Contents
Loose leaves of green tea.
Styles
Styles
Styles

Production

There are many ways green tea is produced depending on the desired style. Generally all green teas have very low oxidation levels because they are heated up very quickly. In fact, this is the main difference between this type of tea and other ones like black tea and oolong. Compared to other tea types, small leaves are used more often because they are more delicate and better suited.

Process

The growth can be either under the sun or under shades. The plants are harvested three times a year in most cases and are pruned to produce buds regularly. Usually the first flush produces the highest-quality leaves, and then the quality decreases gradually.

  • First flush: April to early May.
  • Second flush: June to July.
  • Third flush: July to August.

After withering the freshly picked leaves, they are quickly heated to stop the natural oxidation process. Common methods are sun-drying, firing in baskets, over charcoal or in pans or more modern methods like oven-drying, tumbling, or steaming. Depending on the style and the desired grade and flavor, leaves may be rolled or roasted and finally dried.

History

One of the first books written about green tea belonged to the Tang Dynasty of China and is called “The Classic of Tea” (Chinese: Cha Jing), between 600 and 900 AD. Its topic was about how and where one could enjoy a fine cup of green tea.

This book was one of the most important cornerstones of the history of green tea and helps to conclude that green tea originated in China around 4000 years ago. Afterwards, it slowly expanded to other Asian countries.

Preparation

Green tea steeping time is lower compared to other types of tea and it goes from cooler brewing temperatures such ah 60°C (140°F) to higher ones 90°C (190°F). Usually the time varies too, generally from 30 seconds to three minutes.

Lower quality teas are usually steeped hotter and longer, while higher quality teas are steeped cooler and shorter.

Health benefits

Green tea contains various enzymes, amino acids dietary minerals, vitamins such as A, C and E and high levels of catechins. Despite numerous claims that green tea can have health benefits and many research studies on its potential effects, there is little evidence that it affects people's health. Claims and studies include:

  • losing weight thanks to caffeine and polyphenols
  • protecting against free radicals
  • lowering cholesterol
  • preventing cancer and heart disease
  • strengthening memory and cognitive capacity
  • neutralizing the effects of allergies
  • combating damage caused by aging and preventing wrinkles and cavities
  • regulating gas and bloating
Research shows little evidence that green tea affects health and can’t verify those claims.
Further Reading
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