January sure is a busy month. Along with National Soup Month, it also happens to be National Tea Month. We thought we'd start off the festivities with a primer on a very trendy tea. Green tea came from Asia and took America by storm with its claims to fix just about every ailment. But what exactly is this wonder tea?
Green tea originates from China, where it was historically used in Eastern medicine to help control bleeding, heal wounds, and promote digestion. Most teas — including green, white, black, and oolong — are all harvested from the same plant, Camellia sinensis; differences in their processing result in various kinds of teas. Green tea is unwilted and unoxidized; the leaves of the plant are dried but not fermented, giving it that grassy, fresh flavor it's known for.
Find some of the more popular varieties of green tea below; when brewing, remember to steep green tea varieties for under three minutes.
- Sencha: Whole tea leaves are steamed, then roasted in sencha, resulting in a very delicate, crisp, clean flavor. This Japanese variety is typically enjoyed as both a hot and cold beverage.
- Gunpowder: This Chinese tea gets its name because the leaves are rolled into shiny pellets, resembling gunpowder. This method prevents the leaves from being damaged, allowing them to retain their flavor. Gunpowder green tea has a smoky, almost peppery flavor to it.
- Matcha: The leaves are finely milled, resulting in a bright green powder. This tea is used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, as well as to flavor and dye foods like mochi.
- Genmaicha: A blend of green tea leaves and toasted brown rice.
- Dragonwell: A famous variety of green tea from China's Hangzhou region that's panfried to prevent fermentation from naturally occurring.
- Jasmine green tea: This is actually a combination of green tea and jasmine flowers. It's a common flavor combination, and the resulting tea is flowery, almost like a perfume.
Are you much of a green tea drinker?