- are un-oxidized tea
- originated in China – the traditional producers are China and Japan
- are valued for their cooling effect in Chinese medicine
- have more caffeine than white tea, but less than black tea
Green tea is the oldest tea in Chinese history. Of the thousand varieties that green tea offers, each can be classified according to leaf shape and processing method. The leaves are plucked, withered and dried. It undergoes no oxidation process, distinguishing it from other oxidized teas such as oolong and black.
Traditionally, China uses two drying heat methods: the leaves are either heated in woks over a flame, or placed in revolving cylinders with hot air blown over them. The finest quality green teas are then hand rolled to protect the delicate bud on the young shoots with the leaves. The shoots can be rolled and twisted into various shapes or formed into flattened sticks or needle shapes before the final drying. The leaves take on a green-yellow color and have dominant cooked vegetable notes when infused.
In Japan, the tradition is to place the leaves in large bamboo baskets suspended above steam baths, which dries the leaf with a wet heat process. Then the leaf is formed into a pine needle shape using many stages of rolling, pressing and kneading, leaving a glossy, dark green appearance.
The deep green pigment is retained in the leaf and the flavor develops dominant marine and green-plant notes. There should be both briskness and sweetness in a good green tea.