Here in Britain many people are brought up drinking tea yet most of that consumption is solely black tea. Speaking from personal experience I know many people consider fruit and herbal teas too ‘childish’ and any other tea colour albeit green, Oolong, Rooibos etc too ‘different’ and even deemed ‘unnecessary’. Some like myself are willing to try anything and everything while others are more stubborn when it comes to tea, after all why try something new when they already have one they like? Looking in any local supermarket now a days you will find a growing number of teas and products which even include stocking a promising range of loose leaf teas as well known brands such as Tea Pigs for the ‘home conoussier’. Yet despite all of this a lot of people still will not experiment their home brew. For a few years now I have been experimenting with tea and though black tea will always hold a special place in my heart I find myself favouring green tea the most. Usually when I admit that to people I am asked a common question: “What’s so great about green tea?”.
Green tea is believed to be the second largest consumption in the world after water and as been an Asian staple for over 2000 years. A quick side note – The first tea to enter Britain was in the mid 17th century yet it reached Europe as early as the 1500’s largely thanks to Venice and Portugal. That will hopefully give some people an idea of how traditional green tea consumption is around Asia.
Though all green tea is part of the true Camellis sinensis plant they come in many different varieties and types. Most are cultural and unique to that culture/region. For example: Long Jing (Dragon Well) originates from Zhejiang province in China, though it’s a popular tea and available in many grades (qualities) it is unique to that region in terms of growth. Though some other areas do grow the same plant it is not considered authentic Long Jing. The picture below shows only a small fraction of the differences green tea leaves can have in appearance.
Matching the differences in appearance each green tea also has a unique flavour and characters. Much of this is down to the differences in growing and processing the leaves which again tends to be down to regional factors. For example: The Hangzhou Tian Mu Qing pictured above comes from Tianmu Mountain, Lin’an County, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang, China. It is fully organic and is grown high in the mountains, this gives it a clean and fresh taste with strong aroma. There may be teas that taste similar but none will be the same.
I only touched a little on the differences that green teas can have but the point to those are to show you that variety is the spice of life. If I want green tea I can decide exactly what I want to taste ie flowers, fruit, grass and I can then find a green tea to match it. This makes green tea very versatile and perfect for any occasion. Plus on average green teas can be steeped successfully more times than black teas and re-steeping is highly encouraged in order to experience the teas full array of flavours.
Drinking green tea is healthy and beneficial to the entire body. A lot of websites and companies touch on what green tea can do ie prevent and kill cancer, fight disease etc but they never touch on the science of it. Green tea contains four powerful flavonoid polyphenol compounds – EC, ECG, EGC,EGCG – these are the anti oxidant components. EGCG is 100 times more potent than Vitamin C and 25 times more potent than Vitamin E. One 6 oz/170 ml cup of green tea contains approx 235 mg of flavonoid catechins, compared to an apple that has only 178 mg. This is why green tea is considered healthy and reportedly fights against most ills. No one agrees on exactly how much is needed to be consumed per day to reach the full benefit of the aforementioned flavonoids but it is considered to be at least 5 cups. All of this information comes from research done by numerous groups such as the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Centre, University of Kansas and The National Cancer Institute. You can find more in depth articles based on their findings with a quick search – such as this article:
On top of those health factors green tea usually has less caffeine than black tea. The average green tea has roughly 8-16 mg of caffeine whereas the average black tea has 25-110 mg of caffeine. As a ball park the average cup of coffee has roughly 128 mg of caffeine. Caffeine is an addictive stimulant that can cause many side effects such as headaches, anxiety and depression, particularly with high consumption withdrawal.
To put everything that I have mentioned above very frankly green tea:
- Comes in many varieties to please any mood/craving
- Helps to prevent cancer and other ills
- Has low caffeine levels
- Can be re-steeped successfully more times than black tea
- Is fresher and less processed than black tea
Hopefully now some of you can see exactly why green tea is so popular and why everyone should be open minded about trying it. I’m sure there will be more points to add to my list but at this moment in time that is all I can think of.
If you’re new to tea and have never tried green tea then I highly recommend it, remember to read the back of the packages regarding steeping time and strength, if you treat green tea like black tea ie boiling water for 3+ minutes then it will be disgusting and ruin your experience.
Happy Steeping Everyone!