Do you drink green tea? If yes, Who is up for a warm cup of refreshing green tea? If you are trying to improve your health or drop a few pounds, this ‘super-drink’ deserves your full attention. Tea drinking in China has its earliest references in connection to the mythical emperor Shennong who is said to have tasted hundreds of wild herbs, including tea leaves to ascertain their medicinal value.
Tea today is perceived as the quintessential drink but it has a long and complex history, its roots are deeply tied to ancient Chinese culture. It is difficult to tell where and how the first cup of tea came to be brewed. Some stick to the legend that Emperor Shen Nung of China came across the Camellia Sinensis plant, a few leaves stirred by the wind fell into a pot of boiling water as his troops took refuge under the tree, giving the world its first taste of tea.
Others claim that tea originated in 1500 BC–1046 BC in China and was discovered by the Shang Dynasty as a medicated drink.
The British introduced tea to India to break China’s monopoly on tea. The climate and soil were favourable to tea bushes, and an exceptional quality could be achieved with the right planting and cultivating techniques. While some varieties of tea are native to ancient India, they were usually used only for their medicinal properties, never as a refreshing beverage. Today India is also the largest consumer of tea worldwide, and Indian tea companies have acquired major foreign tea enterprises like Tetley and Typhoo.
Types of green tea
There are a wide variety of green teas available around the world. The type called sencha is the most popular and usually the easiest to find. Other lesser known varieties of green tea include:
Fukamushi means “steamed for a long time.”
As they are exposed to the steam’s heat, they become powdery and the tea takes on a stronger taste and darker green colour.
A unique characteristics of Fukamushi Sencha is that many active components of the tea can be absorbed into the body even though they do not dissolve in water.
The name “gyokuro” translates as “jewel dew” (or “jade dew”, referring to the pale green colour of the infusion.
The tea bushes are covered with cloth or reed screen approximately 20 days prior to picking. By limiting the amount of light that reaches the new shoots while they are growing, the generation of catechins from amino acids is suppressed resulting in low astringency and a rich flavour.
Kabusecha is another type of green tea similarly grown like Gyokuro tea, using covered culture. Although Gyokuro tea is covered for a longer time than Kabusecha.
New shoots develop without sunlight to give a darker colour to the leaf and strong flavour and lower astringency than sencha.
One of the major health benefits of matcha tea is that it delivers a mega dose of antioxidants in every sip.
According to the latest innovation in antioxidant research, matcha is packed with exponentially more antioxidants than any other ‘superfood’.
Green is truly the color of health. Matcha helps to safely cleanse and purge the body of harmful elements. Chlorophyll the element that gives green tea and other plants their signature verdant color is also a powerful detoxifier, helping to eliminate both chemicals and heavy metals from the body.
As matcha is carefully shade-grown, it is substantially richer in chlorophyll than other green teas, making it a superior daily detox.
This tea is mainly used as the ingredient for Matcha. The raw leaves (Ichibancha) used for Tencha are grown according to the covered culture method whereby the tea bushes have reed screen or cloth placed over them to block out most sunlight. However, after steaming, the leaves are dried without being rolled.
Genmaicha also called brown rice green tea, is the Japanese name for green tea combined with roasted brown rice.
It is also known as the people’s tea as it is consumed by all segments of society.
The sugar and rice cause the tea to have a warm, full flavour that is similar to that of nuts. It is considered easy to drink and help one’s stomach feel better.
Hojicha is a Japanese green tea which is different from other Japanese green teas because it is roasted in a porcelain pot over charcoal, whereas most Japanese teas are steamed.
The tea is fired at high temperature altering the leaf colour tints from green to reddish brown.