Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
While predominantly thought of as a Southeast Asian variety of tea, green tea is grown from as far as Kenya, to Japan. It’s a lightly processed tea, meaning that it’s hardly steamed before being allowed to dry and make its way to your cup. This slightly lowers its caffeine content compared to black teas, and retains a light and crisp flavor. It’s lower in tannins and less oxidized than more highly processed, (or cooked/roasted) teas. Oolong for instance, is slightly ‘pan seared’, or heated before it’s dried, making it just slightly more oxidized than green tea, but markedly less so than black tea. All teas originate from the Camellia Sinensis plant, a rugged and versatile shrub that can be found all across the globe! But just what are the different types of green tea out there?
What Are the Different Types of Green Tea?
Some of it has to do with where, and how the tea is grown and later picked. In other cases it has to do with how the tea is processed and blended. Green tea is in itself a very general broad-sweeping classification of tea. All it really means, is that it is tea which has been very lightly processed. Even then, the processing method, weather by direct heat, air drying or steam, can further alter the flavor and ‘type’ of tea. Think of what an ideal cup of green tea looks and tastes like to you, because everyone’s probably a little different!
Sencha is the most universally drunk type of green tea there is. It is classified as freshly picked tea leaves that are steamed quickly after they’re picked, and then rolled into a small, thin green tea. This variety in particular is a popular take on traditional sencha, known as Fukamushi Sencha. I chose to include it as an option for those looking to try Sencha for the first time. It is steamed somewhat longer, removing a lot of the astringency and bitterness. It produces a cup of green tea that’s a little darker, but very flavorful and more palatable to newcomers! To enjoy fresh Sencha, look for loose leaf teas that are vacuum-packaged to keep out air and light. Most green teas have a shelf life of about one year, since they are not fermented and only lightly steamed.
This type of green tea is somewhat more sought-after, produced at a premium by some of the top growers in Japan. It’s cultivated under screens a certain amount of time before it’s picked from the bush. This yields a less bitter, and rich tea leaf. It has a unique aroma, too! A prized blend of tea, you can expect Gyokuro green tea to fetch a slightly higher price tag. That being said, this type of green tea is different in that it undergoes such a unique growing technique. Brew this tea carefully, its gentle flavors are slowly released from the tea leaves. The results are purely delicious.
Used in the highly revered traditional Japanese tea ceremony, Matcha green tea is entirely unique as a tea product. It is stone ground tea made from centuries old tea bushes. You read that right, the tea leaves are stone ground after they’re picked and processed to create a fine powder. Even the soil used to cultivate the tea plants that yield Matcha-grade leaves is carefully managed and cultivated. Matcha is brewed when powder is added to hot water, and judiciously whisked. This is a tea beverage that is composed entirely of water soluble tea leaves, so you consume the green tea in its entirety. The result is a surprisingly, and delightfully sweet and aromatic drink. Imagine a buttery and grassy, fresh tasting version of hot chocolate. It’s sensational on the palate, and you’ll be looking for your next fix in no time! (Tip: always look for Ceremonial Grade Matcha for brewing, as all other varieties are more or less used for cooking and health supplements).
Hojicha (found in stores)
Hojicha is lower on the totem pole for green teas when it comes to perceived quality. In some respects, it’s a good alternative for those who need a much more mild type of tea. It’s incredibly less bitter than any other type of green tea, making it popular for those with sensitive palates. Combine that with its low caffeine content, which makes it a go-to for children and older folks to enjoy as well! In truth, most Hojichas are made from Sencha, making it a nice change of pace with decent quality. Pick this up if you need a reduced caffeine green tea, with a warming and easy-drinking taste.
The packaging of this Genmai-Cha might not be much to look at but believe me, this is the one. This tea is made from roasted brown rice combined with sencha. It’s about half rice to tea, making this a drastically caffeine reduced variety as well. While it may seem like a strange combination at first, the result is a deliciously drinkable and smooth tea. One legend states that during a tea shortage in feudal Japan, tea merchants cut Sencha with rice to meet demands and decrease costs. This stuff is great for the evening, thanks to a lower caffeine content.
Any one of these different types of green tea makes for easy and enjoyable tasting. More so when you delve into the rich history, and background of these blends and varieties. What’s your favorite type of green tea? Let us know if your green tea habits have changed, or if you’re just diving in for the first time!