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All tea is green. Well, at least it starts out that way. But not all green tea is the same. Consumers that have only experienced green tea in bags, or perhaps even in ready-to-drink bottles, have very little idea about the interesting array of tastes imparted from green teas.
For one thing, green tea in bags is usually pretty generic. Secondly, many people prepare their green tea in boiling water, just as they would a black tea. This usually delivers a bitter taste.
Marginal experiences aside, more people are interested in green tea due in part to the constant flow of studies linking green tea with health benefits, including helping to fight cancer and diabetes and improving cardiovascular health. It's been linked in improvements in memory, dental health, and the ability to run a mile in under five minutes.
Okay, maybe the five-minute mile thing is stretching just a bit. But you get the idea. Interest in green tea as part of a healthful lifestyle has never been greater.
Loose leaf green tea has been carefully picked from the Camellia Sinensis plant. The best teas include only the bud and first two tender leaves of the plant. Once it is picked, the leaves are allowed to wither. That is, to rest for a while. This allows the leaves to become more pliable and not break as easily during handling.
Then they're heated to arrest oxidation. Oxidation is the chemical interaction between the enzymes in the tea plant and the oxygen in the air. Stopping this process keeps the leaves from eventually becoming a black tea. Once the tea is heated, it is carefully shaped and dried.
Pretty simple, right? Actually, manipulating the times, temperatures, keeping the right airflow through the teas, and shaping it at the right times will have a big impact on the final product.
Overall, green tea will have a lighter flavor than black tea. As the leaf is nominally processed, the taste is floral, herbaceous, or vegetal. For example, Japanese teas are typically steamed to stop oxidation and have a tendency toward a grassier influence.
Yes, green tea has caffeine that is naturally-contained in the plant. As a general rule, it has less than most black teas. It is also full of antioxidants, especially ECGC, which has been studied for its positive effects on certain kinds of cancers, dental health, and cardiovascular health.
Green teas have a great array of tastes and can be flavored to enhance their interest. The key in preparation is to avoid infusing using boiling water. Let me repeat: keep green tea away from boiling water. That is the problem many people have had with the taste. Instead, infuse it for 2-3 minutes in water that has cooled to about 160-185 degrees Fahrenheit.
To summarize, green tea has been increasing in popularity as people discover the flavorful range of tastes and learn more about their health benefits. Green tea is picked and then heated to keep it from oxidizing. It will usually have a lighter, vegetal taste. It naturally contains caffeine, and it's packed with antioxidants. Oh, did I mention prepare it using cooler water?
Remember, it's a big world... Drink it up!
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