Over the last few hundred years green tea has developed an aura of mysticism. Enthusiasts and scholars alike share a rich tapestry of stories and legends based around the discovery of green tea, as well as numerous tall tales and elaborations of the origins of the myriad forms of green tea. One popular legend concerning the discovery of green tea describes Chinese Emperor Shen Nung coming across the tea plant when a few tea leaves fell into the cup of hot water he was enjoying. Though there are a multitude of such stories, it becomes apparent after reading into the history of the beverage that though its precise origins are difficult to trace, we DO know that the Chinese have been consuming green tea in some form for over 4000 years.
The Chinese experimented with numerous methods of preparing tea leaves over the course of thousands of years, but the most popular method of producing green tea used by the Chinese is by first plucking leaves from the camellia sinensis plant, and then pan frying them to arrest fermentation of the leaf. The tea is then dried, and either cut to shape or rolled into some form of display like the popular gunpowder, or green tea pearl form of green tea. The Chinese tradition of tea production is long and illustrious, too long in fact to do justice in a single website. Some notable chinese green teas include Dragonwell, Bi Luo Chun, and Huang Shang Mao Feng tea.
Japanese Green Tea
In the late 1100's Japanese Buddhist priest Myoan Eisai brought both the Rinzai school of Zen Buddism and green tea to Japan from China.
The Japanese have historically been such dedicated green tea enthusiasts that the numerous methods of tea preparation that they've developed have prompted the tea drinking world to create a new category in the tea world: Japanese Green Tea. The Japanese prefer a tea that has been steamed rather than pan fried in their processing standards. This preference to steam leads to a more vegetal flavor of green tea, less nutty than Chinese tradition. The leaves of the Sencha tea are flatter and glossier than their Chinese counterpart.
One of the more well known Japanese Tea traditions known as Chanoyu. Chanoyu, or the Japanese Tea Ceremony revolves around the serving of a specially prepared Green Tea known as Matcha. Matcha is derived from the same shade grown green tea that is used to produce Gyokuro, which is one of the most expensive forms of Sencha.
Flavored Green Teas
In addition to the traditionally prepared green teas that are often prized for minor inflections in flavor there are numerous flavored teas both old and new that are highly regarded. One of the first to mind is Jasmine Green Tea. Jasmine Green tea is typically a medium grade chinese green tea that has been mixed with aromatic and flavorful jasmine flowers.
Genmaicha is a very popular form of Japanese green tea. Genmaicha is typically a bancha grade Japanese green tea, implying that is a picking from the second flush, or growth of the plant. The bancha is then mixed with roasted rice, which traditionally was used to add filler and therefore lessen the price of the mixture. Today this mixture is very well regarded as the perfect compliment to sushi due to the roasted life flavor pairing well with the flavors of the sushi.
Green Tea As An Ingredient
Armed with the knowledge that drinking green tea is very healthy, beverage makers the world wide have begun creating drinks using both strong brewed green tea and matcha powder to flavor new smoothie concoctions and specialty treats like mochi and green tea ice creams.
One of the most popular methods of using green tea to create a new product is the use of both steeped tea and matcha powder to make what are known as bubble teas. Bubble teas were first introduced in the 1980's in Taiwan as somewhat of a novelty beverage. The first bubble teas were a strong brewed Taiwanese black tea mixed with simple syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and small tapioca pears.
Since the creation of the drink there have been a number of variations on the theme, the most popular in our shops have routinely been bubble teas that are more a smoothie than a brewed tea with tapioca. Our matcha green tea bubble tea smoothie has long been our most popular drink, either mixed with tapioca and served as a bubble tea, or served on its own as a matcha smoothie with milk and sugar.