Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Discovering Green Tea

Green teas are the least processed of all the types of tea and are often referred to as “unfermented” or “non-oxidized” teas. The intent is to preserve the natural "green" characteristics of the tea plant.

In the traditional producing countries of China and Japan, the finest green teas are picked during the spring season when the delicate, young leaves and leaf buds contain their highest concentration of aromatic oils.

As soon as the tea leaves are picked, a natural process called oxidation begins. Oxidation occurs when the enzymes in the leaf react with oxygen in the air, causing the leaves to change in color from green to yellow, to amber and red, and finally to brown. The level of oxidation is what distinguishes the various tea types - green, white, oolong and black.

To produce green tea, the oxidation process must be interrupted early and this is achieved through the application of heat, in a step known as "firing".  In China, teas are fired using a variety of dry heat methods such as pan roasting, oven baking and sun curing. These methods result in teas with an aromatic quality reminiscent of grilled or toasted nuts. By contrast, in Japan, the fresh picked leaves are steamed for a short period of time. This method fixes the bright green color and imparts umami-rich notes of seaweed and spinach.

After firing, the leaves are shaped into various styles - twisted, curly, balled and needle - each with its own character, flavor and aroma.

Green Tea - 3 Different Styles

Grown on a remote farm in Fujian Province, Snow Dragon is a rare green tea that delivers a very rounded, sweet flavor with notes reminiscent of toasted sweet rice.  It is made from a white tea varietal – the same one from which traditional Silver Needles is crafted – and is processed in the manner of a green tea. Snow Dragon consists entirely of young leaf buds, which lend a crisp sweetness to the tea. It is carefully pan-roasted by hand in a wok to develop the flat leaf shape and the warm, toasty aroma and flavor.

A lively and fresh spring-picked green tea with a distinctive vegetal flavor and a smooth, sweet finish. This famous tea originates from Putuo Mountain, considered one of China's 4 famous Buddhist retreats. Known as Putuo Fuocha, it grows on the slopes surrounding the Huiji temple. As a result, locals call it "Buddhist tea".

Grown organically in the mountains of Kumamoto prefecture, this 100% organic, medium-steamed green tea (chumushi-cha) brews a light green-yellow cup with an aroma of fresh grass. It has a refreshing, clean flavor and delivers a mild and pleasing astringency on the palate. It is rich in Vitamin C and pairs well with light meals, especially seafood.