The Basics of Green Tea

A New Year. A fresh start. I always love this time of year.

I overheard Kat and her friends chatting just the other day about New Year’s resolutions. (I wouldn’t call it eavesdropping, per se. She had set me on the counter just steps away from their conversation.)  The friend announced she would be drinking more green tea this year, and Kat congratulated her. The friend promptly admitted she didn’t know where to start.

I find this to be a common theme among Americans. There’s an understanding of sorts that green tea is a good thing, but many don’t know what it is or how it’s different from black tea. If you remember, we had a lovely discussion about black tea the other day and how the black color and darker liquid come from the oxidation of the leaves. With green tea, it does not undergo oxidation, thus retaining its ‘green-ness’ and there are a significant number of factors that can influence flavor and quality. How the leaves are dried (sun drying, oven drying, pan firing are just a few examples!), can influence flavor and quality as well as whether or not the tea leaves were grown in the full sun or spend some days growing in the shade.

In some countries, such as Japan and China, green tea is the more common type of tea consumed. And even in the U.S., prior to World War II, it is said that Americans consumed approximately 40% black tea, 40% green tea and 20% oolong tea. That war effectively cut off the primary suppliers of green tea to the U.S. and by the end of the war, tea consumption was estimated to be 99% black tea.

Thankfully, over the decades, and especially in this last several years, interest and enthusiasm for green tea has made quite a comeback.There are smooth, earthy greens from China, bright grassy greens from Japan, and a seemingly endless spectrum of nuances in between. What’s more, there are the green tea blends to marry floral or fruity notes with the green teas, creating an even greater array of choices. Green tea most often is served with no milk, but one might enjoy a sweetener or lemon if desired.

I was so proud watching Kat open her tea cupboard to her friend and pull out no less than half a dozen green tea options for her to try. I was more than happy to be on hand to introduce her to Kat’s current favorite.

Tippys Green Tea

I’ve already resolved to steep more tea in this New Year. But I think I’ll add one more detail. I’ll be steeping more green tea!

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