Go green! With your tea, that is.

I’ve noticed that the phrase “green tea” gets thrown around a lot in our modern market.

You see it everywhere: on shampoos, energy drinks and even cleaning supplies. As nice as this all sounds, most of this advertising is merely a gimmick to make products sound organic or more eco–friendly. Though those aspirations are certainly admirable, these products don’t even come close to representing green tea or even the leaf itself.

So the question arises: “What is green tea?” Well, that’s what I’m here to explain.

To start off, green tea has its roots (no pun intended…okay it was) in a plant known as Camellia sinensis (in our terms, the tea plant). Simply put, green tea is one of four basic types of tea (White, Green, Oolong, and Black) and is considered to be one of the more popular varieties found in the United States (second only to Black tea).

As you know, tea –– more specifically, green tea –– is known for its near-mystical health benefits. Though incredibly healthy, green tea’s dietary benefits are extremely similar to that of any other teas deriving from the Camellia sinensis plant. So, if you see something claiming green tea can cure [insert disease here], don’t take it to heart. All teas have related benefits, such as high antioxidant counts.  In addition, tea doesn’t have a significant amount of caffeine in it, so don’t expect to drink it for that jolt you need to pull an all–nighter (which I would advise against anyway).

By now you’re probably asking, “If it’s from the same plant, wouldn’t all tea taste the same?”

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Each variety is prepared much differently than its counterparts. For example, each tea is oxidized differently. By oxidized I mean that the tea harvesters pick the leaves, which are then roasted (or steamed) to lock in the freshness and flavor of the leaf itself. After this step they are dried (for preservation purposes) and tightly sealed in large containers.

Of course, not all tea manufacturers do it in quite the same fashion, but that’s the basic idea.

For those of you who have never tasted green tea before, I highly recommend it. It might take a bit of getting used to, as tea snobs define its flavor as “vegetal,” meaning it tastes like seaweed, grass clippings and celery. Hey, I’m just telling it like it is, and though this doesn’t sound particularly lovely, each type has its own unique flavor, as well as higher–end flushes of green tea (we’ll get to that another time).

The light flavors of green tea are a great start into the subculture of tea, as it is not overwhelming and is fairly forgiving when it comes to steeping this tea.

That’s green tea in a nutshell, but if you have any questions or comments (tell me what you’re drinking!) feel free to contact me. Keep sipping!