How To Enjoy Green Tea
On asking our lovely shop customers "Do you like green tea?" we often get the reply "I've tried it once and yuck! Never again!"
On delving deeper, we find it is usually because the tea has been brewed incorrectly or the drinker was expecting it to taste similar to black tea. And why shouldn't they? We have brewed and drunk black tea in this country for many, many decades with no deviation from the traditional black tea brewing method.
Well, here are a few tips to help you understand, and enjoy, green tea...
Once you understand green tea, how to brew it and what to expect from the drink, there are a myriad of flavours and aromas waiting to be explored and it opens up a fascinating new world of tea drinking.
Firstly, green tea is not going to taste like black tea! It has been made in a different way and a whole different flavour profile has been teased out of the leaf. The flavours can vary from the nuttiness of a kukicha to the umami and marine richness of a gyokuro, to the roasty, toasty flavour of a houjicha or slightly smoky, herby flavour of a gunpowder.
So, clear your mind of the expectation of how the tea should taste and embrace a new beverage!
How do you brew green tea?
Firstly, there are two golden rules when brewing green tea - time and temperature. The 2 Ts!
Boiling water must never be used on green teas as it will produce a bitter and astringent cup of tea, which is quite unpalatable! The water needs to be off the boil, and on all of our labels we state the ideal temperature for the tea. A temperature controlled kettle is ideal and they are quite reasonably priced, but if you don't have one then let the kettle boil and leave it for approximately 3 minutes before using it. The water should have, by that time, dropped to a reasonable temperature.
Do not over-brew the tea. Most green teas should be brewed for no longer than 3 minutes - some even only one minute. Again, on our tea labels we state the time that will yield the perfect brew. It is important that the leaves are removed from the water completely after the required time so as not to produce a bitter and an unpalatable tea. A great thing with green teas is that the leaves can be used again, and again! Green tea offers great value for money! And if you have had enough tea and there is still flavour value in the leaf, don't throw the wet leaf away. Keep it and re-use it later that day, or even the next day! However, we recommend not to keep the wet leaf longer than 24 hours. It will be fine covered and left out, but if the weather is very hot, cover the wet leaf and pop it in the fridge.
On all of our labels, we state a quantity of tea to be used. However, we suggest that if you find the tea too strong for your taste, reduce the quantity, and if it's too weak increase the quantity. Remember, time and temperature are the most important rules!
Does what you eat affect how you enjoy green tea?
Finally, the time of day and what you eat can affect how you enjoy drinking green tea. I especially enjoy green tea at lunch time as its clean, bright flavour is a great lift, it goes well with lighter foods such as salads and is a refreshing push through any mid-afternoon slumps you may have. Some people find green tea too acidic for their tummies first thing in a morning and so wait until later in the day or try drinking houjicha, a post roasted green tea with toasty, roasty flavours and which is very popular in Japan to start the day. Green teas go well with most vegetables and fruits, and fish is another good accompaniment. A really interesting pairing is green tea and cheese! I love Long Jing with Wensleydale cheese!
So, picking when you drink green tea and what you eat with it can really enhance your enjoyment of this delicious ancient, super-healthy beverage.
Wanting to explore green teas for the first time?
We recommend starting with either Young Hyson (also known as Lucky Dragon), or Temple of Heaven, gunpowder green tea. Both of these offer a great bridge from black teas into green teas and represent good value. Jasmine Blossom tea is also a nice introduction as the jasmine flavour is always appealing and helps introduce the green tea flavour to your palate in a gentle way. Once you have started to explore the different green teas, the world is quite literally your oyster - (or tea caddy!)