Green Tea

The first green tea was exported in 1611, when the Dutch East India Company established a factory on Japan's Hirado Island. In spite of its recent popularity, Green Tea makes up only ten percent of the world's produced tea which is mainly consumed in Asian countries and in some parts of North Africa.  The 2 youngest tender leaves from the top of each tea bush are plucked then shaped into balls, long spidery twists or short leaves of elegance and style. Green tea has a distinctive light, sweet,  “grassy” taste but green teas do vary from one to another, with the intent being to preseve all natural elements of the leaves. There is no oxidation in the process of manufacturing green tea; they are not fully fermented like black teas, or partially fermented as oolongs.
Brewing with water temperatures off the boil to 180F is recommended. Steep for 2-4 minutes.  

Production of Green Tea
After picking they are  laid out on bamboo trays in the sun for a couple of hours. The process often involves withering: tea leaves are plucked, steamed or pan fried, rolled, and then dried. They are packed into large, revolving containers that are blasted with hot air, which reduces moisture to about 60 percent. This is done to prevent the veins in the leaf breaking and thus stopping any oxidization or fermenting of the leaf. They are then rolled by machine, but without further drying them which helps to encourage release of the flavor when brewed. The leaves are again turned until the moisture is further reduced to about 30 percent. Finally they are rolled in a ridged trough reducing the moisture to 10 percent of its original level.

Green Teas include :
Gunpowder - from China, most of Gunpowder green tea is produced in Pingshui in the Zheijian Province. In traditional form it comes in pellets or small bricks; because the pellets look like gunshot or gunpowder, the name was adopted. It produces a soft honey or coppery brew, with a herby or grassy, smooth light taste.
It is famously mixed with peppermint to yield a middle-eastern favorite termed Moroccan Mint.

Dragonwell - the most famous of China's green teas is easy to recognize by its unique flat-shaped leaves. It comes from the village of Dragon Well, on the outskirts of Hangzhou, the ancient capital of Song China. The best variety of this tea is usually produced in March, and has a lovely aroma and delicate sweet flavor.

Chun mee - literally meaning 'precious eyebrows' due to the shape of the leaves. There is great skill involved in the precise processing of the tea; the leaves are hand rolled to the correct shape at the right temperature for the correct length of time. These long, fine jade leaves give a clear pale yellow liquor with a smooth taste.

Jin Xian Te Jian – from the Anhui region of China, this is an organic green tea made solely from the young tender leaves and buds and processed by hand. It has a light color and  delicate aroma and taste.

Mao Feng – a green tea grown in the high mountains of  the Jiangsu Province of China, collected during April and May and processed entirely by hand.

Silver Sprout - produced by hand in limited amounts from young tender leaves and buds in the Anhui region of China. It has a wavy, curled leaf with a slight shot of silver which reflects its’ name, and brews to a light cup with a wonderfully delicate aroma.

Pi Lo Chun – this name means “blue spiral shell in spring” and refers to its distinctive spiral-shaped leaves. It is grown in the Jiangsu region of China, near Shanghai and harvested and processed by hand during the several weeks between the Spring Equinox and early April. It is made from the finest tender buds which produce a bright, clear brew with a strong aroma and a clean taste.

Yong Xi Huo Qing - an organically grown tea from the Anhui region of China, hand rolled exclusively from the young leaves and buds in the shape of a pearl. It looks a bit like Gunpowder and although is has a rare full bodied taste for a green tea with a slight smoky flavor, it is sweeter and not as strong as the former.

Jiu Hua Mao Feng - a wonderful Chinese green tea that gets its name from the region of growth - the Jiu Hua mountains, an area of great importance to the local Buddhists. Another specialty Chinese tea that is gathered and processed by hand.

Ding Gu Da Fang – this is a superior grade tea from the Anhui region of China. It is made from the finest, hand-picked leaves and looks like Dragonwell, as the leaves also have a very flat shape. They are dark green streaked with black and brew to a very mellow cup.

Yong Xi Huo Qing - another organically grown tea form the Anhui region of China and made from the young leaves and buds which  are hand-rolled to look like a pearl. It has a full bodied taste which is rare for a green tea, slightly smoky but sweet.

Dao Ren - first cultivated by Taoist monks in the Zheijiang province of China, this region is perpetually shrouded by clouds due to its high elevation. A highly sought after green tea with a delicate flavor and sweet honey aroma.

Pan Long Ying Hao – this is an exceptional, hand produced tea from the Yuefeng mountains in the south east of the Zheijiang province of China. Grown in a foggy, humid environment, it was first cultivated in the early 1980's and has earned  three medals at the China Tea Conference.

Feicui - from the Jiangxi province of China, it is one of China's older tea varieties and is so called because it looks like jadeite, a mineral the color of jade. It is a superior tea, processed exclusively by hand; its leaves patterned with jade and grey yet producing dark yellow cup. It has a subtle grassy taste.

Plum Blossom - from the Yunnan province of China, the young leaves are hand-tied together to look like spring blossoms. As this is a labor-intensive process it is produced in very limited quantities. It makes a very delicate, clear cup with a wonderful aroma.

White Monkey – in spite of its name, this is a green tea grown along the slopes of the Taimu mountains in the Fujian province. Young leaves and an unopened are gathered and processed by hand to produce a tea that looks as though it has been woven to show large, white tips. It produces a very light, clear cup with a sweet aroma and delicate fresh taste.  

Jade Ring – another tea from the Yunnan region, it was first produced in 1998, being among China's newest tea varieties. Harvested from the finest spring crop, the single shoots of the leaves are wrapped around bamboo sticks which allow them to dry into tiny rings.

Yu Hua - grown on the outskirts of Nanjing City, Yu Hua means 'flower rains,' and is one of China's most well loved green teas. The sharp points of the withered and dried leaves look rather like pine needles, and when brewed, produce a clear, bright green cup with a fresh flavor and light aroma.

Lu Shan Yun Wu – this is a well known, highly prized tea from the Jiangsi province of China, cultivated here since the Tang dynasty. It is even mentioned by the famous Lu Yu in his book. The thick leaves are covered with fine white down, producing a very sweet taste and clean, refreshing fragrance.

Liu An Gua Pian – a wonderfully refreshing and sweet tea from the Anhui region, it is made completely of leaves, with no buds or stems. They are heat treated by hand in small batches so their shape and bright color are not lost.

Mu Yu Lan – this is a dark-colored, rare green tea from the Jiangsu Province. The whole process is by hand, and the tea is available only in limited amounts, not often seen outside of China.  The leaves are slender and dark and produce a light cup with a fabulous aroma.

Jin Xian Te Jian - an organic tea made exclusively from young tender leaves and buds from the Anhui region. It has a very subtle but wonderful taste and fragrance, well worth the wait of the extra production process.

Huang Shan Mao Jian - another specialty, organic tea grown only in the Yellow Mountains in the Anhui region. Tender green leaves with an underlying ivory color, produce a famously delicate taste and light, grassy aroma.

Rose Mu Dan – meaning peony, this special comes from the northern Anhui region. The young green leaves and unopened buds are shaped to resemble a flower, which symbolizes wealth and prosperity. It opens when in water like a flower blooming and can be infused several times to produce a delicate cup.

Gu Zhang Mao Jian – this tea is only harvested over ten days each spring in the Wuyi mountains in China. It has silver tips producing a faintly sweet cup with an unusual chestnut character. It is not often available outside of China, so if you have the opportunity to sample this delicate tea, take it!

Sencha - this is a very well known green tea from Japan, and the word Sencha means “common.” Although nearly three-quarters of Japan's annual output is classified in this way, there are many variations of Sencha, the finest types having the prized name of ichiban-cha, or “number one tea.” The leaves are needle-shaped and sometimes given the strange but descriptive name of Spider Leg. They have been withered and basket-fired to product a delicate herbaceous taste

Kokeicha – a very unusual tea, it is made from pressed Matcha, the tea powder used the Japanese tea ceremony. The paste is then passed through small holes resulting in thin, spaghetti-like strings. These are dried and cut into small pieces. The resulting brew is remarkably smooth tasting with nutty undertones.
Genmai Cha – another unusual tea made from  either Sencha or Bancha with popped rice and corn. It has large green leaves, and was originally drunk by peasants for whom ordinary green tea was too expensive. Adding the staple rice, made it much more affordable and longer lasting. Now it has become highly popular in Japan and has a strong nutty flavor, more so than other teas.

Gyokuro  - this is Japan’s best tea. Meaning “pearl dew”, it is produced by shading the bushes for the first three weeks of May, ready for the year's first flush. Because of the lack of sunlight, the leaves turn dark green due to less polyphenols, (these are responsible for the often astringent taste of tea). Gyokuro therefore, brews to a light green cup with a very mild, sweet taste yet strong aroma.

Bancha – made from the coarse older leaves of the last of the four plucking times in Japan, the word Bancha actually means "last tea."  They are not as strongly flavored as Sencha, but do contain less caffeine.

Kukicha – when the growing season is over in Japan, the bushes are pruned and the twigs used to make tea. This is another type of tea that was drunk when money was scarce, and like Bancha, contain less caffeine than other green teas.

Hojicha – this is a roasted Bancha, with the older leaves being gathered in the season's last flush. It has a unique “woodsy” flavor and a dark cup.