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The Skinny on Green Tea

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You've been hearing a LOT about green tea in recent years. And with good reason. Green tea has been credited with a host of wonderful health benefits--it's a potent antioxidant, which means it helps eliminate free radicals in the body (formed by oxidative stress and which contribute to aging and disease), has been shown in some studies to inhibit spread of some cancers, lower cholesterol, even aid in weight loss by boosting metabolism.

Green tea comes from the same plant (camellia sinensis) as black tea. Same plant, just harvested at different times and fermented and processed to greater or lesser degrees. Green tea may be just blowing up here in the States, but Asian cultures have been drinking and heralding its wonders for centuries.

There are so many types and styles of green tea, from fruitier ones to smoky ones, and no shortage of new and tasty ones to try. On Whole Living, we taste-tested a classic: Japanese sencha, which is made without grinding tea leaves, so rather than powdery, it looks like tiny little rolled leaves. Sencha means "roasted," so this tea has a bit of a toastier flavor, but the flavors also range, depending on the brand, probably even the harvest, ranging from super mild to more vegetal and grassy in flavor.

From left to right, the tins are from Teavana and Ito En and the packets are from O-Cha, Harney & Sons, Mighty Leaf, and Mellow Monk. All were loose leaf sencha teas.

The Tea

Overall, I found these six senchas fairly hard to distinguish--they weren't vastly different, but I've ranked them according to the ones I'd reach for first, but also have noted which ones are good to start with if you're new to green tea.

Kaoru Kagoshima Sencha - Nice pale green color, fuller grassy flavor (I like this one; it's got more oomph)

Mellow monk - mild green, clean-tasting

Teavana - smooth, very mild - good for beginners who aren't into the uber-veggie flavor

Harney & Sons - a good basic green, very drinkable, but lighter in flavor

Mighty Leaf - a bit vague in flavor, but clean and good

Ito En - stronger, more vegetal green taste, for more advanced palates

The Brewed Teas

How you prepare your green tea has everything to do with the way it tastes. 1 heaping teaspoon to 8 ounces water. Brewing time is very short (and you'll find which is best for you). But 1 to 2 minutes tops--any longer and it'll be so bitter you won't be able to drink it. I do 30 seconds or so, and then by taste. Also, I learned that if you use boiling water, the tea may become more bitter, so boil the water, then let it sit a few minutes so it cools to about 165-170 degrees. Enjoy!

Teapot and Timer

Comments (3)

  • Oh man, I can't believe you used paper cups to taste tea in. Porcelain/ceramic is the ONLY way to go ;) . Very good article, though I can't believe the Sencha all tasted THAT similar. Just my .02 :)

  • nice article, definitely bookmarked!
    personally, i'm just starting to drink green tea, so i'm still a little overwhelmed at all the varieties. will definitely give the kaoru a try, though!
    feel free to check out my blog and comment, since i'm still trying to find the best green tea for myself.

  • Nice article,thank you for sharing.

    Here is a website

    which sells loose chinese tea and chinese herbs TCM .

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