Green tea, the oldest of all teas.
There is no way you have never heard of green tea or its types – matcha, hojicha, or dragon well. Originated thousands of years ago, green tea has successfully become one of the most famous drinks in the world. Green tea has every right to become famous - refreshing, easy to process, packed with many benefits for our body.
You may have seen it, tasted it, or even fallen in love with it - but what exactly is green tea? What is the difference between green tea and black tea? Is it true that green tea has tons of benefits for our bodies? Read on to learn more about this famous type of tea.
The history of green tea
Legend has it that almost 5000 years ago, Emperor Shénnóng (神農) from China was boiling water in the shade of a wild tea tree when a breeze flew a few leaves into his pot. He drank the mixture and found that it was delicious and refreshing. It turned out that he was sitting under a Camellia sinensis tree, and that mixture was what we know as green tea now.
Green tea was then used for medicinal purposes. However, it was not until the Tang Dynasty era that green tea was established as the national drink of China, and people began drinking it for recreational purposes. About 100 years later, in the 8th century, the first book about tea was born – Cha Jing by Lu Yu. It was a book about cultivating, making, and drinking tea – the first of its kind at that time, making Lu Yu “The Tea Sage.”
In the early 9th century, Saicho, a Japanese monk, finally brought tea to Japan, allowing the Japanese to create their own tea ceremony. After that, tea was mainly consumed in East Asia until the late 16th-17th century, when tea arrived in Europe through the Silk Road, allowing the Dutch traders to ship large amounts of tea into Europe. From there on, tea became a worldwide drink, consumed by everyone from all backgrounds.
What does green tea taste like?
Sweet, light, mellow, and toasty is how you would describe how green tea tastes like. Depending on where the tea plant is grown, it can also taste grassy, nutty, floral, and fruity. However, there is one thing for sure: green tea tastes lighter than black or oolong tea because of the low oxidation level.
Types of green tea
Because of the long history, there are multiple types of green tea coming from different geographical regions. Some of them are even flavored! Here are 8 most famous green teas in the world:
Chinese Green Tea
- Dragon Well Green Tea
Also known as Longjing green tea, Dragon Well green tea is the most popular and premium Chinese green tea in the United States. An authentic Dragon Well green tea must be grown in Zhejiang province. What makes Dragon Well special is its rich history – it was one of the tributes to royal families in China!
Dragon Well green tea has a rich yet refreshing flavor, accompanied by its fresh fragrance that reminds you of lush spring grass. It tastes smooth, mellow, and sweet, with a bit of toasted wheat aroma.
- Biluochun Green Tea
Another famous green tea from China is the Biluochun green tea, which means “Green Snail Spring”. Biluochun green tea originates from the Dong Ting of Tai Hu, Jiangsu Province. It is called “Green Snail Spring” because it looks like a green snail – tightly rolled into a tight spiral – and it is cropped in early spring.
This tea is unique because of its snowy white hair. The tea itself tastes fresh, mellow, and fruity with its apricot after-taste. A good choice for you who likes naturally sweet drinks!
- Jasmine Green Tea
Moving on to the scented type, jasmine green tea is one of the most popular scented teas in China. This type of tea mainly comes from Guangxi province in southern China.
Just like its name, it has the aroma of jasmine blossoms with green tea as the tea base. You can get the freshness and subtle sweetness of green tea, with just the right amount of floral aroma. Compared to Dragon Well and Biluochun green tea, the color of jasmine green tea liquor is lighter and clearer.
- Gunpowder Green Tea
Another type of rolled green tea is gunpowder green tea. This type of green tea is called “gunpowder” because of its resemblance to gunpowder grains - small, rolled, and compact. This rolling process is not meaningless, because, in the old days, rolling prevents damage to the leaves during transport. It also retains the character and flavor of the tea during the long transportation trips.
The name does not lie – you can think about gunpowder when drinking this tea. Gunpowder green tea tastes bold with a slight smoky and oaky flavor. This can be your go-to tea if you still want green tea but in the mood of something stronger!
Japanese Green Tea
- Sencha Green Tea
Sencha green tea is Japan’s most popular green tea. It appears needle-like because of its rolling process. During processing, most Sencha green teas are steamed briefly, creating yellow and vibrant tea leaves. However, some Sencha green teas are also steamed longer, resulting in darker leaves and bolder flavors.
Sencha green tea smells fresh and soothing, accompanying its sweet yet astringent flavor. It tastes grassy with undertones of pine and summer fruit – perfect for your healthy summer drink!
- Matcha Green Tea
There is no way you have never heard of this tea – you can find matcha green tea everywhere, from the actual drinks to ice creams and chocolates. Matcha green tea is a strong, full-bodied green tea made from powdered shade-grown tea leaves. Generally, better matcha green teas are sweeter while lower quality ones are more bitter. However, whichever matcha green tea you choose, it must have a bittersweet, rich, complex, and deep umami flavor.
- Genmaicha Green Tea
Genmaicha green tea is a blend of Japanese green tea and puffed brown rice. Because of this unique combination, genmaicha green tea tastes toasty, close to a coffee. However, it does not have the high caffeine content of coffee – its caffeine content tends to be lower because it is mixed with brown rice. Say hello to your new afternoon drink!
- Hojicha Green Tea
Hojicha is a type of roasted green tea from Japan, usually made from roasting Sencha green tea. Because of this roasting process, hojicha green tea has much darker leaves but with lower caffeine content and less bitter flavor. This roasting process also creates a flavor that is similar to coffee – woodsy and savory, yet not as bitter as coffee. Because of this, hojicha green tea is completely safe for elderly people and children.
- Gyokuro Green Tea
Just like matcha, gyokuro green tea is a shade-grown tea (as opposed to sun-grown tea). Before harvest, gyokuro green tea plants are covered for 3-6 weeks to boost chlorophyll and caffeine yet lowering astringency and catechins. This type of green tea tastes bright, flavorful, vegetal, and creamy – but its aroma is like seaweed. Unique, isn’t it?
Moroccan Green Tea
- Moroccan Mint Green Tea
Imagine fresh green tea mixed with the invigorating taste of mint – that is Moroccan mint tea for you. Moroccan mint green tea is a very famous flavored green tea from – you guessed it – Morocco. This type of green tea is refreshing and naturally sweet, thanks to the perfect blend of Chinese gunpowder green tea and fresh mint leaves.
Nowadays, there are many different blends available – like using Japanese green teas instead of Chinese gunpowder green tea and replacing fresh mint with dried mint. Whatever the blend is, Moroccan mint tea is a very nice summer drink, best served cold!
Green vs. Black Tea: What are the differences?
Let’s start with the similarity – both green and black tea are from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. However, they are processed differently, creating different flavors and caffeine contents. Here are the differences between green and black tea:
This is where the big difference starts. Green tea is not oxidized at all, while black tea is fully oxidized. They lie on the opposite side of the oxidation spectrum.
After withering, black tea is directly rolled without stopping the oxidation process first. It is then left in the open air for oxidation. In contrast, green tea is pan-fried after withering to stop the oxidation process. This is what creates the huge difference in oxidation between the two.
The different oxidation levels create different flavors for black and green tea. Higher oxidation for black tea means bolder, stronger flavor, and zero oxidation for green tea means lighter, grassier flavor.
- Caffeine content
Because of the processing too, green tea and black tea have different caffeine contents. Green tea has 35-45 milligrams of caffeine per 8oz (~240mL) serving, while black tea has the highest caffeine content with 40-70 milligrams per 8oz serving. This may seem high, but it is still lower than coffee – 95-200 milligrams per 8oz serving!
The caffeine content of green tea
One 8oz (~240mL) serving of green tea has 35-45 milligrams of caffeine. The caffeine level of green tea depends on the variety of the tea plant, its growing conditions, its processing method, and the brewing method. For example, the longer you steep your green tea, the higher the caffeine content is.
However, you don’t need to worry about this caffeine level because it is lower than other types of tea and, of course, coffee! Black tea, for example, has 40-70 milligrams of caffeine per 8oz serving, and coffee has 95-200 milligrams of caffeine per 8oz serving. Meanwhile, the safe limit of caffeine intake per day is 200 milligrams – or 4 8oz cups of green tea. As long as you stay within the limit, green tea should be good for you!
Health benefits of green tea
Green tea is said to be one of the healthiest beverages in the world. Whether that is an absolute truth or not, there is one thing we can all agree on – one cup of green tea has tons of health benefits.
- Improving brain function
Not only does green tea work to keep you alert – but it also helps boost brain function. This is all thanks to caffeine, a stimulant present in green tea. The caffeine level of green tea is enough to keep you alert, but not so much that it causes jittery effects on your body.
Another good compound present in green tea is the amino acid L-theanine, which has anti-anxiety effects as it increases dopamine and alpha waves in the brain. Together with caffeine, amino acid L-theanine works to improve your brain function.
- Helping with weight loss
Studies found that catechins and caffeine in green tea may increase energy metabolism and fat burning, which means helping you with weight loss. It also helps as a healthier substitute for sugary drinks. Just remember, don’t put any sugar in your green tea – or all these benefits will go to waste!
- Lowering the risk of some cancers
Ah, the good ol’ antioxidants. Thanks to them, green tea can lower the risk of some cancers, such as breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers.
- Protecting the brain from aging
Good news, green tea does not only improve your brain function in the short run – but it also does so in the long run! Studies found that the catechin compounds found in green tea can protect your brain from aging, as it lowers the risk of dementia.
- Preventing cardiovascular diseases
Green tea improves your total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which helps your heart perform better. The good ol’ antioxidants present in green tea also increase the blood’s antioxidant capacity, protecting LDL particles from oxidation and you from heart diseases.
- Preventing type-2 diabetes
Some studies found that green tea may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels, which may also lower the risk of type-2 diabetes.
- Reducing bad breath
One more health benefit of catechins in green tea – improving oral health. Catechins in green tea can inhibit the growth of bacteria in our mouth, hence reducing the risk of bad breath. It’s kind of like a natural mouthwash!
- Helping you live longer
Some studies in Japan show that adults who drink green tea regularly may live longer. This makes sense because green tea is full of good compounds for your body – protecting you from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes – which helps you live longer and healthier!
The best way to consume green tea
Just like (almost) everything in life, you have choices in enjoying your cup of green tea. There are two ways to enjoy your favorite cup of green tea: the cup method and the gaiwan method. Each one of them is the best way – it just depends on your situation and time.
1. Cup method
If you are in a rush or just want to drink your green tea easily, you can use the cup method.
First, preheat your teacup with hot water, and then discard the water.
Brew 2 teaspoons (2g) of tea with 8.8oz (250ml) hot water (175°F/80°C). Brew it for 3-5 minutes.
There you go. Your green tea is ready!
2. Gaiwan method
In the mood of going traditional? Try the gaiwan method!
Gaiwan – which literally means “lid and bowl” – is a traditional Chinese tea brewing vessel that can elevate your Chinese tea drinking experience.
To get your cup of green tea using the gaiwan method, you need to first preheat your gaiwan by pouring hot water into it, and then discard.
Put 4 grams of green tea in the gaiwan, pour some hot water into it, and discard the water. This process is known as “awakening the tea”, or opening up the tea leaves. You can discard the water into your teacup to preheat it.
Pour hot water (175°F/80°C) into the gaiwan to brew your tea. For the first steep, you can do it for 15 seconds.
Serve your tea using a teacup (4oz/120mL size). You should not drink your tea directly from the gaiwan. Now your traditional green tea is ready!
(You can steep your green tea for six times. Each additional one will take a longer time to steep. From the first steep to the sixth steep, we encourage you to take 15s, 25s, 40s, 60s, 80s, 100s)
Where to buy green tea
Since there are different types and origins of green tea, you should find authentic sellers to ensure that you get the taste and flavor you want.
BornTea offers two types of green tea – Biluochun Chinese Green Tea and Dragon Well (Longjing) Chinese Green Tea. Both are very famous green tea variants from China. If you are in the mood of a grassier green tea, then you should try the Dragon Well (Longjing) Chinese Green Tea. However, if you want something more unique, fruity, and sweet, then the Biluochun Chinese Green Tea is your way to go.
No matter which green tea you choose, you can always be sure that BornTea's green teas are authentic and sustainable. We source every single one of our teas from the farmlands in China, and we ship it directly to your doorstep! Learn more about BornTea's sustainability here.
Get your cup of authentic Chinese green tea now with BornTea.