How to Get into Green Teas
Perhaps I have a tell-tale trait about me, because it seems that when I meet new people I discover there are more tea drinkers than non-tea drinkers.
Growing Popularity of Green Teas
Generally, people who tell me they don’t drink much tea, prefer to drink coffee throughout the day. I ask why: it’s either that they are from countries where tea culture did not proliferate historically, or they have never had the opportunity to taste good quality tea, because those generic teabags serving very strong low-quality black tea have not been… their cup of tea (pun intended)!
Nonetheless, for daily tea-drinkers, they seem to enjoy green tea the most. This is especially true for Millennials according to my non-substantiated, loose surveying.
There is More Than One Type of Green Tea
In a café or restaurant, you are likely to see just ‘green tea’ on the menu, so it’s safe to assume that wherever you go, you are ordering the same green tea, right? In fact, green tea is a type of tea. In Japan alone, there are at least twenty types of green tea, with an even wider variety grown in China and South Korea, for example.
Photo by chartressansgluten.fr
As for the type of green tea, it all depends on your taste preferences, mood and time of day. In the morning, I soak in the quiet and stillness and enjoy a delicious Organic Matcha tea. The slow release of caffeine (due to the presence of theanine in the tea) sustains my energy levels in a balanced way, plus I enjoy the mindfulness in the process of whisking with my chasen.
In the weekends, I wake myself up with High Mountain Dragonwell tea because the light honeysuckle sweetness and slight chestnut notes gently awaken my senses.
The umami flavours of Organic Sencha and Genmaicha go great after lunch for a healthy pick-me-up. Be mindful though: when you consume green tea on an empty stomach, the tannins in tea increase stomach acid and may cause stomach ache.
Green Teas in Japan… and China
You read that correctly- Japan is not the only place where green tea is produced! A little known fact is that China produces roughly 80 percent of the world’s green teas. It is not only the amount of green tea production that differs between the two countries, but the processing methods traditionally used also differ.
Chinese green teas are handpicked and processed by pan-firing or baking, whereas Japanese green teas are machine-cut and processed by steaming, resulting in the very different aroma, tastes, and colour of the brewed tea itself.
Nevertheless, green tea all comes from the same plant. Just like wine, it really is the terroir where the tea grows, the processing methods and the skill of the tea producers that gives it variety.
So what is it about green tea that appeals to even the more timid and non-adventurous tea drinkers? The most common answer I hear is the health benefits of green tea. Let’s take a look…
Detox is Not a New Concept
Upon the discovery of the tea leaves in ancient China, the tea brew was celebrated and consumed for its medicinal purposes. Teas provide a great source of naturally-occurring chemicals that are deemed healthy for the body.
These are phytochemicals (aka antioxidants), known as flavonoids. Flavonoids keep your heart healthy by keeping the blood vessels ‘flexible’ so that they are able to stretch in and out in order for the blood to flow smoothly. They also help reinforce our body’s natural defence systems and slow the ageing process.
Both black and green teas contain a similar amount of flavonoids, though this differs based on their chemical structures. Green tea contains more of the simple type of flavonoids called catechins. On the other hand, black tea contains complex types called theaflavins and thearubigins, all belonging to the class of polyphenols.
Tea for Home Remedies
After a late night out with friends or slaying it till late at work, you may wake up feeling as if you can barely open your eyes. Did you know that you can use green tea as part of a home remedy to reduce puffy eyes and lighten those panda-like dark circles?
If you have green tea at home, here is a quick tip on how to reduce puffy eyes with green tea:
- Brew two cups of green tea and allow it to come to room temperature.
- While the tea is cooling, thinly slice some cucumber.
- Put the cucumber slices in a small bowl, pour the tea over the slices. Cover the small bowl and place it in the fridge for a few hours.
- To use, gently blot excess tea from the cucumber slices and place the slices on the puffy areas for about 10 minutes.
So what you see in tv and films is not actually a joke..! Firstly, cucumbers have astringent properties that cause blood vessels to constrict. Additionally, their cooling effects help ease inflammation. The tannin in tea works as an astringent. The caffeine also helps to constrict blood vessels, reduce swelling, and tighten the skin around the eyes.
If I think back to how I got into green teas during my childhood, it would be due to my first cup of sencha during a Japanese meal with my family in Hong Kong. The warmth of the umaminess and distinct yet subtle taste on my palette got me to experiment with green teas outside of the usual jasmine and pu’erh tea that we drank at home.
Tea is wholesome and comforting - there is nothing else quite like it. Certainly, by no means is tea a panacea for all ailments. But, when incorporated as part of a general healthy lifestyle, tea helps to sustain the wholesomeness and mindfulness that it naturally brings.