The original tea, drunk for many centuries before other teas were invented, green tea has long been valued for its health benefits and on its own merits as a smooth, flavorful and refreshing drink. Perfect for all times of day, and versatile to be drunk hot, cold, as a boba tea or even in cocktails, green tea really is the king of teas. Let’s dive in and find the perfect green tea for you.
What is Green Tea?
Green tea is an infusion of Camellia sinensis leaves, steeped in hot water. The bush, which is native to Asia, is also used to make white, yellow, dark and oolong teas, but before all of those came into existence, there was green tea.
According to legend, it was a Chinese Emperor, Shen Nung, who first invented tea, some 4800 years ago. The discovery of tea is said to have been accidental: the emperor was boiling water beneath a tree for some herbs he had gathered, when the wind blew tea leaves into the water. He enjoyed the taste, and named the drink ‘cha’.
By the time of Confucious, around 500 BC, Chinese society had already developed elaborate tea ceremonies, and the drink was widely consumed throughout Chinese society. From there it traveled the world, reaching the West through Portuguese traders, and coming to widespread popularity in the late 1600s, when the Portuguese wife of King Charles II, Catherine of Braganza, introduced tea drinking to the English Royal Court.
The Four Types of Green Tea
All green tea has a freshness to it, as a non-fermented tea. However, to lock in that freshness, the leaves must be dried at a high heat after picking, to destroy the enzymes within the leaf structure. How that is done affects the final flavor profile, so different methods are employed depending on the desired taste. However, there are four main ways in which this is done:
- Chao Qing (Stir-Fried): results in a strong, nutty tea
- Hong Qing (Baked): produces a mellow umami profile
- Shai Qing (Sun-Dried): imparts savory, floral notes to the tea
- Zheng Qing (Steamed): gives a mild, grassy flavor profile
Are There Health Benefits to Green Tea?
There certainly are! In fact, green tea is said to be one of the healthiest drinks available. For a start, green tea is high in antioxidants, which are said to give protection against cancers, improve brain function, help with weight loss, and lower the risk of heart disease.
In addition, green tea contains a particular type of antioxidants called catechins, which help preserve cell function by eliminating harmful free radicals. As free radicals play a role in the aging process, drinking green tea regularly may even keep you looking young for longer.
The Best Green Tea to Start Your Day
If you’re looking for a replacement for coffee to start your day with a bang, you can’t go wrong with gunpowder green tea. Although Art of Tea’s Gunpowder Green does happen to have a smokey taste, gunpowder tea is actually so named because the leaves are rolled into little balls, which look a bit like gunpowder pellets.
Gunpowder teas tend to be robust teas that stand up well to being served with milk, cold brewed, or even turned into a cocktail. Art of Tea’s version is no exception. It enjoys well-rounded woody, grassy notes, while the bright yet smoky finish makes it the perfect pick-me-up to get you up and running.
- Loose leaf, available in packs of 4 oz or 1 lb.
- Earthy tones; woody, grassy, with a smoky finish.
- Steep at 180 degrees F for 3 minutes for the perfect brew.
The Best Green Tea for the Classic Experience
Dragon well, China’s most famous green tea, is known as the King of Teas in China thanks to its aromatic yet nutty tasting tones. Dragon Well is a chao quin, a tea that has been pan-fried in a hot wok to stop the oxidation process, before the leaves are hand-flattened. The result is a beautiful and distinct tea made from jade-colored leaves. .
Buddha Tea’s certified organic Dragon Well boasts toasty aromas and a naturally sweet taste that is sure to delight.
- Comes in a box of 18 bags
- The classic taste of Chinese Dragon Well tea: nutty and sweet
- Steep the bags in hot water to release the infusion.
The Best Thai Green Tea
If green tea isn’t normally your thing, you might be best acquainted with it as a drink to enjoy at the end of an Asian meal, as the light, soothing tones are often the perfect counterpoint to heavy spicing.
Thai tea was developed with exactly that role in mind: to be enjoyed with spicy Thai food, aiding in digestion and cooling the palette. Bold and fragrant, Thai tea is now gaining popularity as a beverage in its own right, which is exactly how Tea Drops’ Thai Tea Drops are meant to be enjoyed.
A robust, versatile blend, Thai Tea Drops can be enjoyed as an iced or boba tea, with or without milk, or simply dropped into a cup of hot water and allowed to melt into a warming, mellow drink, perfect for a break in a busy day.
- Available in a recyclable cylinder of 10 drops, or a burlap bag of 25.
- Bold and robust with fragrant overtones,
- Versatile: serve any way you like.
The Best Green Tea for Getting in Shape
The health benefits of green tea aren’t only for women, men can get in on the act too, and Ekon encourages them to do so with a range of teas designed with men’s wellness in mind.
Regular fasting has long been known to improve overall health, but let’s face it, it’s not always fun. Ekon’s Fasting Champ has been carefully crafted to help suppress appetite while boosting metabolism to aid in weight loss.
Its delicate balance of green and rooibos teas complemented with rose hip, ginger, natural flavor and coconut gives a smooth, satisfying and delicious blend which you’ll want to return to again and again on your weight loss journey.
- Loose leaf tea, comes in a 60g bag, enough for 60 servings
- Deliciously satisfying, with a coconut flavor
- Enjoy as part of your fasting regime.
The Best Green Tea for Connoisseurs
Another Dragon Well tea boasting the characteristic jade leaves, nutty flavor and robust nature, Tea Drunk pride themselves on selecting teas only from the finest Chinese terroirs, and their Heirloom Xi Hu is no exception.
Dragon Well takes its name from the Long Jing (Dragon Well) region of China, analogous to the Champagne region of France. Within Long Jing, Xi Hu, or West Lake, is considered the finest terroir for tea growing, making Xi Hu the creme de la creme of Dragon Well tea, and the source of Tea Drunk’s offering.
The tea is pressed within the wok while heating, creating the nutty, deep flavor associated with Long Jing, but with a long floral finish only found in the very best examples.
- Loose leaf, available in a tasting or 1oz pack
- Creme de la creme of Long Jing: nutty, bold, with a long floral finish
- Steep the leaves at 185 degrees F for two minutes in an open bowl
The Best Green Tea for Cold Brewing
If you’re looking to change up your tea drinking habits, cold brewing might be the way to go. Cold brewing doesn’t release tannins into the tea as hot brewing does, resulting in a tea that’s sweeter, smoother, and doesn’t have the bitter finish that you’ll be used to from other teas. It also results in less caffeine and more antioxidants in the tea, which is great if you’re drinking tea for the health benefits.
As the process isn’t helped along by heat, cold brewing does take longer, but you can simply steep loose leaves in a large container overnight, using a ratio of one to two tablespoons per quart of water, and the next day you’ll have a refreshing, healthy tea to sip all day.
If you’re looking for a tea to cold brew, you can’t go wrong with Gokuzyo Aracha. Gokuzyo translates literally as ‘highest grade’, while Aracha means ‘wild tea’. The leaves are hand-selected and picked by trained tea-masters before being gently kneaded to release the captivating aroma and taste, but are otherwise unprocessed, allowing them to keep their natural shape. The result is a mild yet sumptuous tea, sweet and smooth, that will serve you well as a cold brew.
- Loose leaf, packaged in an eco-friendly, resealable washi-paper package.
- Award winning Japanese green tea, mild and naturally sweet.
- Allow to steep slowly in cold water overnight for a refreshing cold brew.