International Tea Day is observed annually on May 21 to create awareness about the significance of tea around the world, in terms of economy and culture. We may be a tea loving country, enjoying the brew in its various forms. But how much do you actually know about green tea? Here is a fun fact: green tea originates from the plant species Camellia Sinensis, which also helps produce black or white tea. It is only the way these leaves are processed that decides whether the tea is ‘green’ or ‘black’.
Origination of green tea
Tea was originally invented in China for medicinal purpose and first put to use nearly 4,000 years ago. By the third century, it became a regular drink, leading to its cultivation and processing. Dolly Kumar, founder and director, Gaia tells theindianexpress.com, “the tea got popularised in Japan around 1190 when a Zen priest visiting and studying in China’s great Buddhist monasteries and temples returned to Japan with tea plant seeds and bushes. He popularised the way of tea as a meditation ritual within his own community of Buddhist monks, eventually spreading the custom of tea drinking throughout the rest of Japan.”
Types and variants of green tea
The unprocessed nature of green tea is what makes it taste sweeter, robust and less bitter than its counterparts. However, not all green teas taste the same, even after coming from the same plant variety. The tastes vary on the basis of the processing methods and cultivation practices. The flavour also depends on the environment where the tea is grown. Kumar adds, “While the Chinese green teas like dragonwell and gunpowder impart a grassy, earthy, roasted flavour due to their pan-fried processing, Japanese green teas have a unique sweet, vegetal or seaweed-like flavour acquired from the steaming process.”
In India, sencha and matcha are the two most popular Japanese green teas. “While sencha tea produces a clear yellow/green tea with a sweet, grassy but slightly astringent flavour, matcha is an entire leaf grounded into a rich green powder,” informs Kumar. The powder is mixed with boiling water and gently whisked before being served. The powder imparts a light and sweet flavour making it apt to be used in desserts and sweet beverages.
Green tea is another much-loved variant in India. Usually available in the form of teabags, it is blended with other herbal flavours for enhanced health benefits. Multiple variants include tulsi green tea which is known to rejuvenate the body, while mint green tea helps to fight fatigue, improves metabolism and aids digestion. There is also honey lemon green tea known to boost immunity, speed up metabolism and improve digestion along with boosting cognitive abilities.
Ginger green tea mix is ideal to fight cold symptoms and is effective against sore throats. The ginger green tea is ideal for an overall healthy body and mind; cardamom green tea is effective in improving blood circulation, relieving constipation and an overall cleansing the body.
What makes green tea better than its black and white counterparts?
Before you rush to sip this miraculous beverage, take a look at the best possible time to consume it for deriving maximum health benefits.
“While green tea is loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols, it also contains caffeine, which means consuming it more than thrice a day may leave you with sleepless nights and also drain out essential elements from your system,” cautions Kumar.
The best possible time to reap the benefits of green tea is early morning, when the body’s metabolism level is at its peak and needs a quick boost to kick-start the day. One can also have another cup of this potion early in the evening to prolong the dipping metabolism.
Making that perfect cup of green tea involves getting the basics right. Unlike the humble everyday chai, green tea requires no milk. Here is a simple way to make green tea:
- Boil a cup of hot water.
- Measure one 1 tsp of tea leaves and add to it. If using tea bags, then 1 teabag for one cup of hot water is perfect.
- Let the tea leaves steep in the hot water for 2-3 minutes; more than that can result in a bitter taste.
- Now strain the brewed tea into a cup.
- You could add a few drops of honey, lemon or ginger for flavour and enjoy!
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