Leaves from Camellia sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing is used to make Green Tea. Originated in China, Green Tea has become associated with many cultures throughout Asia. Recently it’s popularity could also be felt in the Black Tea drinking West. Green Tea extracts have also been known to be used in various health food and beverages, dietary supplements and even cosmetic items. Due to differences in climate and growing methods, many varieties of green tea have been cultivated over the years.
Numerous studies has been carried out to determine the extent of its long-purported health benefits, some results suggested that drinking green tea regularly could lower the risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer. Although green tea does not increase the metabolic rate sufficiently to effect weight loss, extracts from green tea have shown to contain polyphenols and caffeine which induces thermogenesis, which fuels fat oxidation, boosting the body’s metabolic rate by 4% without increasing the heart rate.
Comparatively, a cup of green tea contains more flavonoids than other traditionally considered health associated beverages like fresh fruits, vegetable juices or wine of the same amount. Flavonoids are a group of phytochemicals found mainly in plant products that are purportedly linked to health benefits such as anti-oxidative and anti-carcinogenic functions. The level of flavonoids in tea produces however may vary dramatically.
Brewing and serving
Brewing, otherwise known as Steeping is the process of making a cup of tea. Usually for every 100ml of water - two grams of tea leaves is used, it is about one teaspoon of green tea for every five-ounce cup. For high-quality teas like gyokuro, the ratio of leaves to water is increased, it is also steeped more times and for shorter durations.
The steeping time and water temperature differs between different teas. It could be as hot as 81 to 87 °C (178 to 189 °F) with the longest steeping time of two to three minutes to the coolest from 61 to 69 °C (142 to 156 °F) with the shortest time of about 30 seconds. Normally poor quality teas leaves are steeped hotter and longer and better quality teas are steeped cooler and shorter. Regardless of the tea quality, steeping in water that is too hot or for too long will cause the tea to turn out bitter and ‘harsh’. It is believed that water that is too hot causes the tea to release a chemical compound called tannin. Tannin is especially common in green teas. Higher quality green teas can be and are usually steeped two or three times. To avoid developing an ‘overcooked’ taste in tea, the steeping technique is also crucial. The teapot should be warmed prior to steeping so that the tea will remain warm and wouldn’t cool down too quickly. It is common practice to replenish the hot water in the teacup or pot a few times until the tea leaves loses its flavour.