What is green tea?
Green tea comes from the same plant as black tea. They are both made from the leaves of the same species of plant (Camellia sinensis), but processed in different ways. After harvesters hand pluck the tea leaves, green tea leaves are immediately steamed or baked and then rolled and dried. They retain a green color. Black tea is also hand plucked, but it is left to wither and oxidize (a process called fermentation). It is this process of oxidation that destroys the EGCG in black tea – that’s why black tea does not have the same health properties as green tea.
The history of green tea in Japan begins with the introduction of tea by Zen Buddhist monks in the 9th century. Because of its relative scarcity, only monks, members of the imperial court, and eventually, wealthy landowners were able to enjoy this prized beverage. The famous Japanese “tea ceremonies” evolved as a means of sharing and honoring the tea. In the 18th century, novel processing and growing methods resulted in the introduction of green tea and its spread into all corners of Japanese society.
Green tea is actually the same plant as its more well-known cousin black tea; however, special processing retains a far greater antioxidant profile in green tea leaves, resulting in a far superior beverage for supporting health. Numerous scientific studies now document the tremendous benefits of drinking green tea.
Green tea provides powerful antioxidant polyphenols (estimated as 25 times the antioxidant activity of vitamin E and 100 times that of vitamin C)! Below are a few of the many benefits of green tea!
- It promotes growth of friendly intestinal bacteria
- Green Tea decreases toxic bowel metabolites (like polyamines)
- Promotes cardiovascular health, prevents blood cell aggregation and improves cholesterol metabolism
- Inhibits toxin and carcinogen producing enzymes like ornithine decarboxylase
- Epidemiological evidence suggests regular consumption of green tea reduces the risk of many cancers
Dr. D’Adamo’s favorite, Mr. Itaru’s Blend (pictured above), is mildly caffeinated – but it is important to realize that many of the anti-cancer properties of green tea are lost if it is decaffeinated.
Types of Green Tea
Green teas of different flavors and aromas are produced depending upon how they are cultivated and processed. The variations in flavor make green teas a favorite among tea connoisseurs. Most green tea is grown in China or Japan. While there are many fine Chinese teas, when it comes to green tea, Japan is known the world over for having especially high quality green tea. There are nine common types of Japanese green tea:
This is the most popular kind of tea among the Japanese and consists of about 80% of all Green tea produced in Japan. The leaves are first steamed and then hand-rubbed and dried. The trees are not covered with a shade so that their leaves contain a high percentage of Caffeine, Tannin and well-balanced Vitamins and are particularly rich in Vitamin C. High quality Sencha leaves have a beautiful green color and the shape of thin straight needles. The latter is the result of a skilled and elaborate handiwork of rubbing which helps the components to be readily dissolved into hot water. When poured into a cup, Sencha is colored bright yellow. Its aroma is light and refreshing and its taste a perfect harmony of sweetness and bitterness.
Gyokuro tea leaves are picked from the trees that are cultivated under a shade. When new leaves start shooting, the whole field is covered with a reed shade and straw is spread over the shade. This allows growers to control the photosynthetic activities in tea leaves so that vitamins composed in the leaves and nutrients absorbed from the roots attain their maximum level. Because it contains a higher percentage of amino acid, Gyokuro is richer in taste and because it has less Tannin, Gyokuro tastes milder and more refined. 15 days after the field is covered, tea leaves are picked and processed in the same way as Sencha.
Matcha tea leaves come from the same shaded tea field as Gyokuro. Only they are steamed and dried without going through the process of hand rubbing. Stems and veins are sorted out to leave only the blades and then stone-ground into fine powder or Matcha. Matcha is foamy, thick and deep green, and actually much less bitter than it appears to be when served to you. Due to the difference in processing, it has as a characteristic a mellow sweetness and a very subtle bitterness. This tea is frequently used in cooking and desserts.
FUKAMUSHI SENCHA: DEEP STEAMED SENCHA
Fukamushi Sencha is as its name indicates in Japanese the kind of Green tea that is steamed two to three times longer than Sencha in comparison with which the aroma is slightly diminished but a shorter brewing time is required for preparing this sweet and full-bodied tea. A longer steaming time allows the tissue of tea leaves to become fragile and break into small pieces. It is for this reason that it takes less time to brew Fukamushi Sencha. When brewed and poured into a cup, Fukamushi Sencha has a deep green color distinctly different from the yellow of Sencha.
Oversized tea leaves are pan-roasted at a high temperature and made into Hoji-cha. You can never miss that pleasant smell of roasting that comes drifting from a tea shop where Hoji-cha is being made. The color of the tea leaves is darkish brown and when brewed the liquid looks like a black draft beer.
YANAGI (River Willow)
In the course of making Sencha, some leaves fall out in the rubbing process and come out flat, folded in two or double-folded in four. Because they look like willow leaves, the tea made of such leaves is called Willow, which has a lighter and less lingering taste than Sencha.
Roasted brown rice grains are mixed either with Hoji-cha or Yanagi to make this tea. It is well liked by tea lovers of all ages for the flavor of Green tea and the aroma of roasted rice from which is gained also a nutritious benefit of Vitamin B1. NAP offers a premium Genmaicha – “Mr. Itaru’s Blend” in both a 7oz. size and a new smaller 4oz. size. It’s Dr. D’Adamo’s favorite green tea!
Small broken pieces of tea leaves make up Konacha (they are actually the most delicate and delicious parts of tea leaves). It is best known as AGARI, the tea you drink with Sushi, and is consumed in great quantity at Sushi bars and restaurants in Tokyo.
KARIGANE (Wild Goose)
In the process of making Gyokuro and Sencha, the stems and veins of tea leaves are sifted out and of these is made Kuki-cha (Stem tea) or Bo-cha (Stick tea). Compared with the tea made of leaves, the aroma of Karigane has more of fresh green and its taste is light and pleasant, with a unique sweetness of stems. Karigane means “wild geese,” and the tea is called Karigane because the stems look, not like the geese themselves, but like twigs floating on the ocean on which they perch to rest their wings when they migrate.
How to make green tea
When making green tea it is not necessary or desirable to use boiling water. Moderately warm to hot water is best. Tea leaves should be placed in the water for about 30 seconds (45 seconds at the longest) and removed. Superior quality green tea should look light green when prepared in this manner. Enjoy!