Types of Green Tea: Everything You Should Know

Types of Green Tea: Everything You Should Know

Posted by Ashley Davis on

With its vibrant green color and unique, earthy taste, green tea is an ancient and delicious beverage to enjoy anywhere you find yourself.

If you’re curious about the different types of green tea and how they differ from black tea, we’ve put together this guide to help you learn all you need to know to find and enjoy your favorite green tea blend.

 

The History of Green Tea

For most of history, all tea was green tea. Tea is native to the Yúnnán region in Southwestern China, where it grew wild for millennia.

Legend has it that Emperor Shen Nong discovered tea accidentally 5,000 years ago while boiling water under a tree. The story goes that some leaves blew into his boiling water and he was so taken by the refreshing aroma and taste that green tea as we know it was born.

Lù Yǔ, a member of the social elite, popularized this tale in his “Classic of Tea” (Chá Jīng), a short but very influential work, covering everything about tea, from cultivation to consumption. Much of what we know about tea in ancient China comes from this work.

During the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE), green tea became recognized for its medicinal properties, including aiding in digestive issues and supporting focus and alertness. Scholars compiled one of the first medical texts due to these discoveries, resulting in the foundational work, “ The Classic of Herbal Medicine” (Shennong Ben Cao Jing).

The Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE) was a pivotal period for green tea. During this time, green tea transitioned from a medicinal beverage to a daily drink enjoyed by all social classes. As a result of its popularity, the art of tea cultivation and processing began to flourish, leading to the creation of different tea varieties.

The Emperors of the Song Dynasty (960–1279 CE) were green tea enthusiasts. Because of its prominence in the Imperial Court, Chinese tea culture became highly ritualized, emphasizing aesthetics, etiquette, and the spiritual aspect of tea drinking.

Part of these rituals was the Chinese tea ceremony. This is a wedding ritual in which the bride and groom serve tea to their families. It's an introduction to one another’s families and a symbol of respect and harmony.

Green tea came to Japan when Buddhist monks Saicho and Kukai brought tea seeds from China in the 9th century.

Green tea was initially used only by monks in religious Buddhist rituals. Zen monk Eisai popularized it when he extolled the health benefits of green tea in his work, “The Book of Tea Sanitation” (Kissa Yojoki) after visiting China in 1191.

The Japanese tea ceremony, known as "Chanoyu" or "Sado," developed in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was heavily influenced by the principles of Zen Buddhism and focused on the use of powdered green tea, matcha. The preparation of the matcha became ritualized and meticulously choreographed, creating an entrancing ritual focused on harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility.

Health Benefits of Green Tea

Like all types of tea, green tea has many health benefits. Here are a handful to consider.

Cognitive function - green tea strengthens greater cognitive functioning. Specifically, it boosts memory and executive functioning.

Cancer prevention - like many teas, green tea is heavy in antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize damaging particles called free radicals in the body. This lowers inflammation and helps prevent some cancers from forming.

Weight loss - a 2022 study published in the journal Sports Science For Health found that green tea positively enhances your metabolism. Regular aerobic exercise enhances this benefit.

Heart health - both green and black teas support cardiovascular health by regulating cholesterol and blood pressure.

Oral health - a surprising benefit of green tea is oral health. Green tea naturally contains fluoride, which prevents tooth decay. A recent study found that matcha green tea powder has the greatest amount of fluoride.

Difference Between Green Tea and Black Tea

The Camellia sinensis plant is the origin of both green and black tea.

The primary difference between the two is that black tea undergoes the oxidation process, and green tea doesn't.

Oxidation is what naturally occurs when tea leaves interact with air. When Camellia sinensis leaves oxidate, the enzymes in the leaves react with the oxygen in the air. This darkens the leaves and gives black tea its signature, dark flavor.

Processing green tea, by contrast, is all about locking in the fresh, “green” flavor. While the oxidation process of black tea brings out a malty richness, green tea is all about preserving a newly harvested vegetal flavor.

Because of this difference in processing, green tea contains slightly less caffeine than black tea. About 35 mg per 8-ounce cup, as opposed to 39-109 mg of caffeine for the same amount of black tea.

Types of Green Tea

Each type of green tea offers a distinct experience. Some are lighter and more airy, while others are hardier and more earthy. Let’s take a look at some of the most common blends from three different cultivating traditions.

Chinese Green Teas

Dragon Well (Longjing) Green Tea - Dragon Well originates from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, and is one of the most famous Chinese green teas.

With a moderate caffeine content, its leaves are flat and sword-shaped, sporting a vibrant green color. The tea produces a jade-green liquor with a sweet, slightly nutty flavor and a smooth finish.

Jasmine Green Tea - delicate, sweet, and floral, Jasmine green tea is from Fujian Province. It's infused with fresh Jasmine flowers, making its aroma as refreshing as its flavor.

Gunpowder Green Tea - from Zhejiang Province, Gunpowder green tea brews from pellets of tightly wound tea leaves. This method locks in its potency and signature smoky flavor.

Japanese Green Teas

Sencha - Sencha is the most popular type of Japanese green tea. It’s made from steamed, rolled, and dried tea leaves. Sencha has a bright green color and a refreshing, grassy flavor with a balance of sweetness and astringency.

Matcha - Matcha is high in caffeine and made from a finely ground powder of shade-grown tea leaves. When making matcha you first pour heated water (175°F or so) into the powder and whisk back and forth vigorously until froth forms. Then you top it with more warm water or steamed milk. Matcha is rich and creamy with a strong vegetal flavor.

Twig Tea (Kukicha) - twig tea has the lowest caffeine content of the three Japanese green teas here. It’s made from the twigs, stems, and stalks of the tea plant. This gives it a more delicate flavor, slightly nutty and sweet.

Indian Green Teas

A glass teacup filled with Magic Hour's April 2024 Harvest - Grand Cru First Flush Organic "Spring Wonder" Samabeong Estate Darjeeling STGFOP1 on a golden oval tray, next to a small heap of loose organic tea leaves and a golden spoon. The tray is adorned with a single yellow gerbera daisy and white rose petals, all set against a soft pink background. 

Darjeeling - Darjeeling green tea is light and delightful. It's grown in the Himalayan foothills, and its flavor is reminiscent of white grapes. Sip First Flush Darjeeling Tea

Assam - The lowland region of Assam is in Northeastern India and is known for its robust black teas. The green teas that come from this region have flavors that are fuller-bodied and more pronounced. This green tea has a woody flavor profile and a mild astringency.

If you’re interested in trying some of these varieties, Magic Hour sources their green tea leaves from reputable growers of the highest quality, providing tea enthusiasts with a superior tea-drinking experience.

Browse our collection of dozens of pristine green tea blends and enjoy the wealth of wellness each variety brings.

How To Prepare Green Tea

Making the perfect cup of green tea is a simple process. However, there are steps you can take to elevate your green tea experience from good to amazing.

Step One: Use Fresh Water - don't use previously boiled water. Even if it’s remaining in your kettle and you’re tempted to flick it back on. Fresh, cool, filtered water will get you the freshest-tasting tea.

Step Two: Use the Right Water Temperature - you make black tea with boiling water, but it may scald green tea leaves. Heat your water to 160°F - 180°F (70°C to 80°C). Use a thermometer for the most accurate results. If you don’t have a thermometer, boil the water then let stand for two minutes to cool down.

Step Three: Preheat Your Cup - this step is optional and a bit of a luxury. But it’s oh so delightful, especially on cold mornings. Pour some hot water into your cup and swish it around before dumping it back out. Now your cup is nice and warm and ready for the heat of the tea.

Step Four: Measure Your Tea - tea amounts are usually printed on the package. You can also brew to taste if you like your tea stronger or weaker. But a general guideline is 1 teaspoon of fresh tea leaves per 8 ounces of water.

For tea crystal sachets, use one sachet per 8-ounce cup of water.

Step Five: Place your measured tea leaves or satchel into your pre-warmed cup. Pour the heated water over the leaves. Steep to taste, about 1–3 minutes.

A shorter brew time will result in a lighter, more delicate flavor. Longer steep times will bring a stronger, more robust flavor out of the tea. The longer the steep, the greater the chances your brew will have a bitter taste.

The right tools will help your daily green tea-making process go smoothly. Magic Hour offers many beautiful tea accessories to ensure every cup of tea is the best you’ve ever had.

Flavored Green Teas

Green tea’s umami flavor can be an acquired taste. Some choose to include additives in their green tea for additional flavors and added health benefits. Here are some of the most popular.

Peach - peach adds a sweet, juicy flavor that pairs well with the slightly bitter notes of green tea. In addition, peaches contain beneficial amounts of vitamins A and C, along with antioxidants. 

Lemon - lemon has a bright, and refreshing flavor profile that enhances the natural flavors of green tea. Rich in vitamin C, lemon boosts the immune system and increases the body's ability to absorb antioxidants. 

Mint - mint is cooling and soothing, rounds out the flavor of green tea, and helps tummies stay calm. Sip in our Moonlight in Marrakesh Green Tea

Apple - crisp and sweet, apple elevates green tea and adds to the abundance of antioxidants in every cup. Sip in our Pearl Green Tea

Ginger - ginger is spicy and warm. It adds a zing to green tea that helps circulation, digestion, and nausea. Sip in our Quintessence Ginger Honey Green Tea

Try Magic Hour's Organic Green Teas

Green tea is refreshing, delightful, and packed with a rich history and health benefits. Choose from the wide variety of green tea blends available based on your taste preferences or the goals of your wellness journey.

If you would like some guidance, Magic Hour offers a Tea Quiz to find the best teas curated to your personal preferences. In addition, the shop hosts premium organic green teas for you to explore on your own.

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