If you try to buy green tea in a supermarket – even in a very large one – the chances are that you’ll only find one kind of green tea: the kind with ‘green tea’ written on the packet. The green tea that these packets contain tends to be of the absolute lowest quality, and so they are best avoided. Instead, you should try to buy your tea from Chinese markets or food stores, or order it over the Internet, as then you will be able to choose from the full range of green teas.
So which different green teas are there? Well, the most common green tea in Western countries is low-grade Gunpowder – that’s the stuff you’ll generally find in the supermarket. It is used because it is cheap, and stays fresher for longer than other green teas, because of the way it is rolled up into little balls.
Indian green teas are making a name for themselves internationally. Over the last few years, Indian tea companies are concentrating on making superior quality green tea. The best green teas are being manufactured by some tea estates in Darjeeling, Nilgiris and Assam. While Darjeeling Tea gardens make speciality Green Tea like Sencha, Green Delight, Green Pearls etc, there are a few gardens that make exceptional Organic Green Tea.
According to Tea Expert, Mr N K Puri retired General Manager, Goodricke Group "Manufacturing green tea is an art, you need to make sure that you process the leaf properly else the tea may get a bitter aftertaste, which makes it unpalatable".
The best way to identify a good green tea according to Divya Puri, former Tea Taster with Duncans Tea Limited "After the tea leaves are brewed it should resemble the original leaf that was plucked and processed, the leaves should smell fresh. The liquor should be smooth with no astringency (no bitter aftertaste after you take a sip). There are a handful of tea estates in India that manufacture good quality green tea. Some tea estates in Darjeeling and Nilgiri have produced some outstanding green teas that have won international awards"
The most popular green tea in China is Dragon Well, or Lung Ching, a bright green and quite expensive kind of tea. Many consider it to be the best green tea, but because it is expensive and not very much is produced, it is prone to imitation – make sure you trust whoever you’re buying this tea from to sell you the real thing.
In Japan, green tea drinkers prefer Sencha, a sweeter kind of green tea. It is cheaper than Dragon Well, more the kind of tea you could drink every day, but none the worse for it. Sencha is also more readily available over here than Chinese green teas tend to be, and there is a slightly cheaper version called Bancha as well.
The sweetest kind of green tea is Macha, the tea used in the Japanese tea ceremonies. It is very expensive and very nice and tastes more like a luxury dessert than the everyday tea you’re probably used to – in Japan, it is a popular flavour of sweets and ice cream. If you ever get a chance to drink Macha, it’s well worth trying, because it really is the king of green teas.