Although green tea originated in China, it is grown all over the world including Japan, India, New Zealand, and Hawaii. The different types of green tea are determined by many factors such as where they are grown, differing climate locations, and how they are cultivated. The finishing methods of green tea result in an array of flavors and aromas, from toasty to sweet.
Pan Fired Green Teas from China:
Chinese green teas are produced by pan firing tea leaves in a basket or pan to halt the oxidation process. Green teas can be fired more than once and can be fired in wicker, steel, metal and over charcoal, gas, electric heat or hot air. Any of these choices made during the processing of the green tea helps to create unique and desired flavors.
ŸGunpowder: By far one of the most popular types of Chinese green tea, it is primarily grown in the Zhejian Province. The leaves are hand rolled into the shape of pinhead pellets that resemble gunpowder and open up during the brewing process. It has a bold and slightly smoky flavor. The compressed form of the tea leaf helps keep it fresh longer than any other green tea. With 35-40 mg of caffeine per 8 oz serving, it is higher in caffeine and is said to improve endurance over periods of 3-6 hours. It is the go to drink for many athletes. Gunpowder green tea is rich in catechins.
ŸDragonwell (Long Jing): This tea is grown on the high peaks of the Tieh Mu mountains in the Zhejian Province. The flat tea leaves have a beautiful jade color. It has a mellow, soft, and delicious taste combined with a sweet aroma. It is produced by being dried under a wood-fired wok, which removes the green, grassy taste. Dragonwell has a cooling effect making it a popular tea in the spring and summer seasons. It is high in vitamin C, amino acids, and has one of the highest concentrations of catechins. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, boost the immune system, and to reduce the signs of aging.
Steamed Green Teas from Japan:
Japanese green teas are produced by briefly steaming freshly picked tea leaves to not only halt the oxidation process, but to bring out the dark, rich green color of the tea leaves. Japanese brewed green tea retains that beautiful color. Steaming also produces a flavor profile that is described as slightly sweet and vegetal or seaweed-like.
ŸSencha: More than 80% of the green tea produced in Japan is Sencha tea, making it the most popular green tea throughout the country and the world. After steaming the leaves are rolled in long, skinny strands. It has a delicately sweet and herbaceous aroma. The flavor profile is traditionally described as grassy and lush, or salty and sweet-reminiscent of fresh cut grass and seaweed. Quality Sencha green tea can be steeped three times giving it extra value. It is rich in vitamin C. The antioxidants in Sencha help to prevent coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis while eliminating excess cholesterol from the body. Sencha is also known to help retain a youthful apperance and reduce wrinkles by hydrating the skin. Sencha can also be roasted over high heat to produce Hojicha tea. This green tea has a roasted, nutty flavor. Roasting at a high heat reduces the amount of caffeine in Hojicha tea.
ŸGenmaicha: This green tea is a blend of Sencha and rice and that has been roasted and popped. It was developed by Zen monks who mixed their green tea into cauldrons that were stuck with brown rice. The toasty, nutty tasting Genmaicha green tea is often served with food and is said to have the same soothing effects as chicken noodle soup. Studies done in China show that men and women who consumed at least a cup of Genmaicha tea once a week for six months decreased their risk of colon, pancreatic and rectal cancer. The selenium in Genmaicha helps maintain thyroid function and regulates hormones and metabolism.
ŸGyokoro: This is considered to be Japan’s most treasured tea, the fine wine of Japanese green tea. Gyokoro green tea possesses the most unique of all flavors-umami. The tea leaves are grown in the shade the last weeks before being picked to help deepen the color and flavor. Growing in the shade also produces higher levels of L-Theanine and chlorophyll. This tea has very specific brewing instructions, beginning with a cold brew infusion that produces the most intense umami flavor.
ŸMatcha: The tea leaves that make Matcha green tea are also shade-grown, and are ground into a powder instead of being shaped and rolled. It takes up to one hour to grind 30 grams of Matcha tea. One serving of Matcha is equal to ten cups of regularly brewed green tea and you receive 100% of the nutrients from the leaf. Matcha is an antioxidant powerhouse, with an ORAC value of 1573, dramatically more than any other superfood. It is rich in EGCG, decreases cortisol levels throughout the body, enhances mood, improves concentration, and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Matcha is mixed with a special whisk and bowl into a hot tea, can be added to protein drinks and smoothies, or is used in cooking to add amazing depth of flavor.
ŸBancha: This tea is a lower grade than Sencha tea, as it is harvested at later times in the year. It has less caffeine and is less bitter than most green teas. It does however retain all the powerful antioxidants as nutrients are released in differing amounts throughout the growing period.
ŸKukicha Twig: This tea is not made from the leaves but from the stems and young twigs of the camellia tree. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat heart conditions, sluggish digestion, fatigue, infections, and support weight loss. It is rich in vitamin C and has six times more calcium that milk. It helps treat headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue and anemia.
Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea has been shown to contain the most concentrated amount of polyphenols, making this tea excellent for fighting free radical damage and slowing the aging process. Green tea is the best food source of catechins, making it a more powerful antioxidant than vitamin C or E; thus lowering your risk for several types of cancer. Green tea has been shown to specifically reduce the risk of bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, and inhibit breast cancer cells, lung and esophageal cancer cells. Japan has the lowest cancer rate worldwide and this is attributed to their large consumption of green tea. Drinking green tea can reduce your risk of a heart attack as they prevent atherosclerosis and reduce cholesterol. Drinking green tea reduces the inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Green tea helps regulate glucose in the body making it extremely beneficial for those with Type 2 Diabetes. Green tea protects the liver from the damaging effects of toxic substances that are filtered through this vital organ every day. Green tea helps boost metabolism to support energy levels and weight loss. The catechins in green tea are said to have the highest fat burning effects on the body. There is enough fluoride found in green tea to protect against plaque and other oral bacteria.
How much green tea you should drink per day depends on your personal health and wellness goals. The University of Maryland Medical Center created a dosage of three cups per day to maintain optimal health, based on the amount of active antioxidant compounds retained in each cup of green tea. Studies done relating the heart health benefits of green tea had participants drinking five or more cups of green tea per day. To prevent the risk of cancer you should also drink a minimum of five cups of green tea per day. To reduce inflammation you should drink at least three to five cups per day, although studies have shown that supplementing with green tea in a concentrated capsule or tincture form to be just as effective. To obtain the 270 mg of EGCG (from catechins) from green tea to support weight loss you would need to drink ten to twelve cups of green tea per day. That amount of caffeine can be overwhelming for the majority of people. Taking a green tea supplement that is standardized to give you higher amounts of EGCG is the best way to utilize the weight loss benefits.
Brewing Gunpowder Green Tea:
The best way to brew Gunpowder green tea is in a glass teapot. Boil water and pour into glass teapot. Wait two minutes for water to cool before adding the tea to brew. You will use 1 teaspoon of Gunpowder tea for every 4 ounces of water. If this is the first infusion, you need to pour the tea after 45-60 seconds regardless of whether the pellets have finished opening. Most Gunpowder pellets are good for up to five infusions. Add 30 seconds to your steeping time for each successive brew.
Brewing Matcha Green Tea:
Using a Bamboo Whisk and Bowl: Sift 1-2 teaspoons matcha into a porcelain or glass bowl. Add 2 oz hot water that is just under a boil. Whisk vigorously in a zig zag motion until the tea is frothy. Enjoy!