I bet that, if I were to go up to a stranger on the street and ask them to name different types of tea, I would hear “green tea” first and foremost. After all, China alone has hundreds of different types of green tea. With so many different varieties, it would be hard to not gain so much attention. Stores carry green tea bottles by the gallon for mass consumption.
According to How Products Are Made, “Green tea leaves are picked and immediately sent to be dried or steamed to prevent fermentation, whereas black tea and other types are left to ferment after they are picked. ” They are grown primarily in the southern, warmer regions of Japan, half of it being in the Shizuoka Prefecture. Uji, near Kyoto. Tea is also grown in the Shizuoka Prefecture and the surrounding regions. A total of about 100,000 tons of green tea is produced per year from 60,000 hectares of tea fields. Only green tea is produced in Japan.
The soil for green tea is acidic, since tea plants will not grow in anything less. Harvesting is done by hand or machine in April, May, June, July and September. Harvesting by machine is more cost-efficient and faster than by hand. They are then dried to prevent any fermentation that might occur and change the taste. Different amounts of drying will make different types of tea; Sencha tea is steamed for 30-90 seconds and fukamushi is steamed for 90-150 seconds.
Tea is then rolled into different shapes. This not only gives the tea an appealing and distinctive shape; it also controls the release of the tea when steeped. Sometimes, it is dried one last time before being packaged in bags or loose and shipped off to our favorite tea shops. While watching television, listening to the radio, reading magazines or browsing around online, one can find unlimited proclamations regarding green tea. While Googling “Green Tea” for this article, I was plagued by ads upon ads upon ads advertising green tea diets, green tea supplements and green tea health products. It is starting to become the snake oil of modern society. Green tea does contain antioxidants that help to destroy free radicals, lower blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol. However, it is important to note that the FDA has not approved the claim that green tea helps reduce heart disease. Studies also suggest that green tea helps prevent bladder cancer and pancreatic cancer, as well as aid in breast cancer and ovarian cancer treatment in early stages. It helps reduce inflammation, control blood sugar, reduce liver disease and even promote weight loss! While one should always consult with a doctor about any type of nutrition regiment, even one like drinking a cup of green tea per day, it seems to arguably be more beneficial than not for the average person. Green tea contains about 60% of the caffeine of a cup of coffee, prepared with ground coffee in a drip cup. However, the amount of caffeine will differ depending on how you brew the tea. Generally, green tea should be brewed in water that is about 140-185 degrees for 1-3 minutes. Brewing too long will produce a bitter tea, so be careful! It will also increase caffeine content, so those sensitive to caffeine should beware. Green tea would not be a good tea, unless you invest in a decaf or caffeine-free version. I would not personally recommend green tea for novice drinkers. It is more of an intermediate drink; you’ve had tea before, you enjoy it but you want to branch out. At first, it can be very bitter for a new drinker, so sugar might be needed. However, with time, green tea can be enjoyed without sweeteners and you can enjoy the full benefits, both in taste and in health.Photo Credit:
How Products are Made. “How green tea is made – making, used, processing, parts, steps, product, industry, machine, Raw Materials, The Manufacturing Process.” How Products are Made, 2011. Web. 9 Nov 2011.