Green tea is the most hyped drink in many Asian countries like China and Japan. The reason why Green tea is preferred in Asian countries could be linked to traditional medicine and the health benefits the tea provides.
However, if you have never had a sip of Green tea, you might wonder what is so special about this tea? And what does it taste like considering its popularity? This article will guide you on everything you need to know about Green tea without ever having tasted it.
What does Green tea taste like?
There are special notes that are used to specifically describe what Green tea tastes like, such as the term ‘grassy.’ Many even describe it to have a bitter after taste. In contrast, some argue that Green tea is actually sweet. Other terms used to express Green tea flavor are earthy and floral.
Reasons for bitter green tea
Green tea is notoriously known to develop a bitter flavor. Nevertheless, Green tea can taste bitter for a number of reasons, some being natural while others are caused by human error.
The naturally occurring elements in Green tea, known as tannins, are responsible for providing the bitter taste in most Green teas. Tannins are antioxidants that are found in fruits like grapes as well.
On the other hand, human errors like using extremely hot water to brew your Green tea can also cause your tea to taste bitter. This happens when the hot water comes in contact with the delicate Green tea leaves and burns them.
The burnt tea will also have a slightly darker color. Hence, controlling the water temperature new brewing your tea can drastically change the flavor of your Green tea.
To bring out more flavors from your Green tea leaves, instead of over-brewing it, steep the leaves for a more extended period of time. You could also re-steep it in freshwater to bring out the flavor more.
Reasons for grassy green tea
Of all the terms used to describe what green tea tastes like, grassy is the one most commonly used. Most people associate the grassy taste of Green tea with its health benefits. Hence, the term grassy has been passed down from generation to generation, especially in Asian countries like China and Japan.
There is not much one can do to overcome the freshly cut grass taste of Green tea to change it into fruity flavors. However, there are a number of natural factors that can impact how grassy your green tea tastes, including the harvesting time and method of processing the tea leaves.
Depending on when the tea leaves are harvested, the tea leaves can produce citrus or honey-like undertones. The leaves are all harvested from the Camellia sinensis plant, and the youngest leaves, which grow after the sprouts, are used in Green tea.
Most people who do not enjoy the grassy taste of Green tea can change it up by adding a little sugar or honey. However, you can never completely cut out the grassy taste of Green tea, which is its key identifying flavor.
Factors that affect the taste of green tea
There are a number of factors that affect the taste of Green tea. Some of the previously mentioned factors, including harvest time and the method of processing the leaves, are also of significance.
The production of Green tea varies significantly from country to country. In Japan, Green tea leaves are processed by steaming the leaves to bright green color, which gives them a slightly nutty taste. The most popular Green tea that is used in tea ceremonies all across Japan is Matcha.
Previously the Chinese method of Green tea production also employed the use of steam. However, this was changed in the 1930s. The Chinese way now calls for the use of a large wok (Chinese pan) in which the leaves are pan-seared for a few minutes producing dull green leaves.
The pan-searing method produces a more bitter-tasting green tea with which we are most similar since China is the largest exporter of Green tea.
As mentioned previously, brewing your tea in hot water can burn the Green tea leaves causing them to produce bitter-tasting tea. To brew the perfect cup of Green tea, you will need to add the tea leaves into water that is of 176°F (80°C). To ensure your water is at the right temperature, you can use a kitchen thermometer.
Let the tea steep for 2-3 minutes. If you would like to altogether remove the bitter component from your Green tea, you can steep the leaves once again. Note that re-steeping your leaves will also reduce other flavors from your tea.
The way you store your tea leaves can have an impact on the flavor and aroma of your green tea. To maintain the quality of your Green tea leaves, you need to store them in a cool, dry and dark place. The perfect storage method would be to use an air-tight container and place it in a cupboard.
Never store your green tea in the freezer as it causes freeze-burn to the leaves and also develops moisture. Do not keep the tea leaves in their original packing as you would expose the tea leaves to air and moisture each time you open the packaging.
Green tea that is not stored correctly will produce bitter notes and will lose its earthy flavor. Moisture will cause mold to form. The sure way of knowing if your tea leaves are ruined is if they have an acrid smell.
Frequently asked questions about what Green tea tastes like
Does bitter Green tea equal a better Green tea?
Most people consider Green tea to be of better quality if it is bitterer tasting. However, this is a myth. A good balance of bitter, sour, and sweetness should be expected of high-quality Green tea leaves.
Does Green tea contain caffeine?
Although many people believe Green tea to not contain caffeine, it does. An 8 oz. cup of green tea should contain anywhere between 30 to 50mg of caffeine.