HOW TO CHOOSE AND BREW GREEN TEA
Are you one of those people that, after hearing about the health benefits of green tea for the fifteenth time, finally went out and bought some only to find the results less than satisfying? Perhaps you've tried several green teas and just couldn't figure out what the big deal was all about. It may make you feel better to know that you are not the first to experience this. Wonderful tasting green tea is really waiting for you provided you know some of the basics. Before rushing out to purchase your first or fifth green tea, it really helps to understand why green tea is altogether different from other kinds of teas.
Thinks To Know
It's true - green tea, like most other teas, come from the plant Camellia sinensis. It is processed differently however, and it's this processing that plays a big part in how you should choose a good green tea. Green tea is typically processed within a very short time of harvest. In Japan, tea harvesters pick the leaves and truck them immediately to a nearby factory where crews are waiting - time is of the essence. As the leaves come out of the truck, they are placed onto conveyer belts that send them straight into processing. The leaves are steamed, dried, rolled, dried again, and rolled again. From start to finish, the whole process takes about three hours. Why the rush? It's to prevent oxidization. Like all living things taken off life support, green tea begins to break down the minute it is picked. Have you ever cut an apple and left it out in the open air and noticed that it starts to turn brown after just fifteen minutes? If so, you have witnessed oxidization in action. With green tea, that's exactly what you do not want. You do want your green tea to be "green" and not yellow, right? The important thing to know is that green tea is "green" (or at least it's should be) because it has been processed in certain ways to prevent oxidization.
Tip #1: First and foremost, know that green tea does not stay fresh for long periods of time, and fresh is definitely what you want. For sure, this is not like the bag of Chinese oolong tea that's been sitting in your cupboard for 2 years. In Japan, green tea typically has a shelf life of just six months. One should try to get their hands on green tea that has been packaged for as short a period of time as possible. The shelf life of green tea can be extended by months provided that it is stored under refrigeration (not freezing.) This however only applies to unopened packages.
Tip #2: Once a package of green tea has been opened, the clock starts to tick and the shelf life is reduced considerably, usually to about 2 or 3 months. Once opened, one can usually notice differences in color and quality in as little as a few weeks. This is because quality green teas are stored in nitrogen filled packaging, or packaging that was first flushed with nitrogen and then vacuum packed. Once you open the package, it is then exposed to oxygen. It no longer helps to store your green tea in the refrigerator at this time, and in fact it probably hurts things. Buy what you can drink within two months.
Tip #3: Buy first harvest green tea. Did you know there are actually 3 or 4 harvests per year? While green teas from later harvests can be delicious, it is has been proven that there are more nutrients in the first harvest green teas. First harvest green tea is stored under special conditions and can be obtained throughout the year. Once again, look at the packaging date.
Tip #4: Learn how to brew it correctly. Green tea is fussy when compared with most other teas. While it's not brain surgery, you do need to know what you are doing - there are things to be considered! Steeping leaves for 10 minutes in just boiled water is the surest way to get a lousy cup of green tea. Very generally speaking, steep 1 teaspoon of leaves in about eight ounces of very hot but not scalding water (175F is about right) for just two minutes. Be sure to drain completely between servings. These times and temperatures can and do vary quite a bit depending on the many green teas so be sure to do your homework on how to brew the particular type of green tea you purchase.
Tip #5: Don't throw out those wet leaves! I only say that because many people don't know that it's normal practice to re-infuse the leaves 3 or 4 times. That would be within a span of 3 or 4 hours, don't leave wet leaves in your teapot all day however.
Now that you have a few ideas on how green tea works, take out that old package you bought earlier and ask yourself, "What harvest did this come from?", "How long was this sitting on the shelf before I bought it?", "Where is it from?!?!", or perhaps, "Did I really brew it right the last time?" Then if you have not yet done so, consider giving green tea another try!
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