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Monday, December 7, 2009

What is Green Tea?

Green tea also called unfermented tea. It originates from China and is not only the earliest tea in Chinese history but has also become associated with many cultures in Asia from Japan to the Middle East. 70% of all tea produced in China is Green tea. There are tea gardens in more than 1000 cities and towns. Green tea makes up about 23% of the world tea market and more than 70% of all green tea produced internationally comes from China.

There are many different varieties of green tea. Different tea cultivars, environments (terroir) and different production processes create different types of green tea. It is estimated that there are currently more than 900 kinds of green tea in China.

Green tea is the type of tea closest to nature. After the tea leaves are picked, they are processed with only three steps: 1) a brief exposure to heat in order to keep the leaf green by preventing oxidation, then 2) rolling or twisting the leaf to break its cell walls and provide shape and finally 3) drying to remove most - but not all - of the moisture and determine a given tea's distinctive aroma. A process with only three steps might seem simple, but the result depends on the details.

After this process is complete, a tea with a particular personality emerges, just like you and me. Some leaves are long and some are short; some are flat and some are twisted; some are shaped to look like a sparrow's tongue, others to look like an orchid. The basic taste of green tea is clear, fresh and brisk, like the feeling after the rain. A well-made green tea isn't bitter, rough or astringent. Some are nutty, some are flowery and all have a slightly sweet aftertaste.

In my next post, I'll write a little about how to select a high-quality green tea. I know these first few posts are too simple for some of you who already know about tea, but I think it's good to start with the basics; then we can have a more detailed conversation.

Enjoy your tea!


  1. Becky,

    Thank you for the important reminder not to cover the tea. It's a carryover from longer brewing habits, to cover the teapot to keep the heat in. Of course no heat will really be lost in a minute, and yet that minute would overcook delicate leaves. I'm glad I waited until you wrote this before getting some really good green tea!

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  3. Hi Lauren,

    I am glad to hear that the post about preparation of green tea was helpful. Yes, you should not cover the cup or gaiwan when you prepare green tea (especially high grade ones - young tiny and tender baby tea buds and leaves) and never use a ceramic teapot to brew green tea, because the material and the design of the teapot help to maintain the heat - which is good for oolong tea or black tea but not green tea.

    Thanks again for commenting on my new blog!



About Me

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Seattle, WA, United States
I grew up with tea, and it continues to fill my life with so much beauty and discovery, pleasure, peace and friends. It is always leading me toward a greater understanding of culture, nature, myself and others. It is my hope to use this space to share the joy of tea and tea culture with you.