Learning all about Green Tea
Green tea is loaded with polyphenols, natural compounds that provide health benefits such as reduce inflammation, lower the risk of heart disease, help with fat loss and fight cancer, etc. If you don’t already know, it’s supposed to be one of the healthiest beverages you could possibly drink.
Since everybody says green tea is good for you, we drink copious amounts of it. But there’s an art to drinking green tea, and the Japanese would know this best as they have been drinking green tea since 815, apparently. Story goes that Buddhist monk Eichuu offered tea, regarded as a precious gift thought to be enjoyed only by the religious, royal, and elite societies of Japan, to the Saga emperor.
Green Tea, Oolong Tea and Black Tea are all from the same tea plant, but processed differently. I learnt something new during a ‘Japanese Tea Experience’ recently: fresh green tea leaves are steamed to prevent oxidation this helps retains its colour! Earlier I just thought they were plucked when young, hence they retained their greenness. Haha!
The most common green teas would be Sencha, Matcha and Hojicha. Sencha is derived from steaming, rolling, and drying the youngest tea leaves, and the most commonly consumed green tea in Japan.
Matcha is made from tea leaves grown in the shade. Steamed and dried without rolling to produce Tencha, this is then grinded in a stone mill to a fine Matcha powder.
Hojicha is from toasted and chilled leaves, which gives it a slight reddish brown colour and a roasted flavour.
Shizouka Perfecture is the largest tea producing region in Japan, accounting for 40% of all Nihon-Cha production, mostly Sencha.
I had a chance to try Nihon-Cha from Yame, a city near Kyushu Island and Uji, south of Kyoto. Different types of teas have their own properties promoting different uses. High quality Sencha contains more caffeine and acts like a stimulant, so if you’re wondering why you’re awake after healthy cups of green tea, there you go!
Chilled Hojicha is supposed to be good for rehydration and highly recommended while Green Tea with high content of catechin, produced when its strongly brewed with hot water and consumed regularly, is touted to be good for lowering cholesterol levels.
Beyond your ordinary cuppa, there are many other ways to enjoy green tea eg. extract Tea Espresso with a Coffee machine for Matcha Latte, a cold brew to get the ‘sweetness’ of the Green tea, and green tea powders can also be used for making cakes, ice-cream, cocktails, chocolate and other desserts.
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