Quite a celebri-tea!
Seasoned tea drinkers around the world swear by Chinese green tea. Why the hype? A famously refreshing range of flavors? Sure. Several thousand years of history to go with it? Of course. But there’s more. Chinese green tea has hundreds of different cultivars, each with its unique aroma, taste, and texture. Add to this numerous tea growing regions and different processing methods involved in tea production in China. That means there’s a special variety of Chinese green tea to suit every tea drinker’s taste.
How does Chinese green tea differ from any other?
Tea leaves get their coloration and tannic qualities from a process known as oxidation, which starts as soon as the leaves are picked. The longer the oxidation process lasts, the darker the tea gets. Black teas represent the final stage in the oxidation process and Chinese black teas also enjoy great popularity. In order to get ‘green’ tea, oxidation must be stopped while the leaves still retain their fresh, herbal scents. There are many ways to do this; the Japanese, for instance, steam the freshly picked tea leaves, while the Chinese go for pan firing or oven roasting. Hence, the difference in flavors.
Looks matter…at least for Chinese tea masters
If you take a closer look at a pack of Chinese green tea, you’ll find that every tea leaf looks exactly the same. This is hardly a coincidence. Chinese tea masters go to great lengths to give a very specific appearance to their finished green tea leaves. For example, the Dragon Well (Longjing) variety can be identified by its perfectly flat leaves. Similarly, Bi Luo Chun tea has distinctively curled leaves. In the case of the Dragon Pearl and Gunpowder varieties, the leaves are tightly rolled up, preserving their aromas inside.
Tea for the novice
New to Chinese green tea? Start with Dragon Well. This is a great classic Chinese green tea with a mild flavor and slightly sweet aroma. Or, try Pearl Jasmine tea, a fragrant, ever popular green tea variety. Make no mistake – quality Pearl Jasmine is a departure from the ‘jasmine tea’ found in most grocery stores. Traditionally, Chinese jasmine tea is infused with delicate jasmine flowers that just do not possess the strength of industrial flavorings and essential oils. The idea is that floral component should not dominate, but rather subtly complement the vegetal green tea flavor in your cup.
Health benefits of Chinese green tea
A number of studies associate green tea with reduced chances of heart disease, stroke, and even cancer. Despite that scientific evidence seems to be somewhat inconclusive, there are more than enough reasons to adopt Chinese green tea into your lifestyle. Arguably, the real health benefits of green tea have more to do with the tea drinking ritual itself. Sipping a cup of Chinese green tea through the day makes for a great way to beat stress. Its crisp, refreshing flavors and herbal tones are tailored for relaxation and rejuvenation. What’s more, a well-set tea drinking routine automatically increases your daily water intake, which by itself does a world of good.
Any pitfalls to avoid?
Barring the price tags that some premium Chinese green teas come with, the only catch is their shelf-life. Air-tight packaging helps to an extent, but as a general rule, green tea is best consumed as fresh as possible. Not that going through a pack of green tea is ever an issue.