A bit of a strange title I know, but that’s the beauty of the diverse world of tea and its uses. But before I get to the underpants I thought I’d just jot down a few notes around the most frequently asked questions we receive here at Jenier HQ…and no, we don’t get asked a lot about underpants, just in case you were wondering.
The wealth of information surrounding green tea is vast and can sometimes be a little overwhelming and confusing, made even more difficult when you perhaps feel you should know the answer, but haven’t had the time to research and find out.
Where does green tea come from?
All teas, including white tea, black tea, yellow tea, oolong tea and of course green tea come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis and are produced from the leaves and leaf buds.
Are all tea bushes the same?
No, there are thousands of varietals, some which have developed naturally over hundreds of years and others developed by mankind. Tea bushes grow all over the world in the many tea growing regions. The Camellia sinensis sinensis plant has a small leaf whilst the Camellia sinensis assamica varietal has a larger leaf. The former thrives at high altitudes with cooler temperatures and moisture laden air whilst the Camellia sinensis assamica prefers low altitudes with high temperatures and humidity. Like many plants, Camellia sinensis has the ability to adapt to its surroundings so there are some exceptions to the general growing preferences I describe.
What makes green tea different from any other type of tea?
The process of manufacture. The best green teas are handpicked allowing the pluckers to take two young leaves and a leaf bud from the new growth. After plucking the leaves are often left to wither for a short time before heat (panning or steaming) is applied to prevent the leaves from oxidising. The leaves are then rolled or pressed to help develop flavour before being dried and sorted.
What temperature of water should be used to brew green tea?
Never boiling water – your green tea will taste bitter. Generally, depending on the green tea you’re infusing, the range of recommended water temperatures is 60 - 80°C. On a practical point, whilst a thermometer is ideal, if you don’t have one to hand I find boiling the water and then pouring into a separate jug before leaving to cool for a while speeds up the cooling process. If you can pour into another jug and repeat the process a couple of times even better then leave to cool for a few minutes. I’m aware that for some adding cold water into the teapot, pouring in the freshly boiled water then adding the leaves is another way to speed up the cooling process but I’m not as keen on this method as from my experiments, the resultant flavour of the tea has not been as good. (Do use filtered water if possible).
This does vary but as a general rule of thumb around 3 minutes – 4 minutes but for some teas this can be less and of course is often very subjective to taste.
Do you put milk in green tea?
Really, really not recommended. Of course, your tastes are your tastes, but good quality green tea, made well tastes amazing on its own and so refreshing too.
Is green tea good for you?
Green Tea has been revered for its health benefits as early as the Tang Dynasty (7th-10th century China) with claims of the beverage affecting vital organs. Over time, scientists have examined and tested theories surrounding these benefits such as effects on weight, cancer, heart disease etc.
The main reason for all the scientific attention is because green tea is high in antioxidants (polyphenols), often referred to as ECGC or catechins and it is their abundance that provides some desirable traits. Although many studies have been performed, definite conclusions on the impact green tea has on health have not yet been reached.
Along with its popularity for our health, green tea has started to unearth other uses for its leaves. A farmer in a small town in Lincolnshire has started using green tea to assess the health of the soil. The method before this was cotton underpants, buried by farmers for eight months to understand the biological activity of their soil. More biological activity will show with increased degradation of the cloth. Now, green tea bags are being used by farmers to measure the ability of their soils to degrade organic matter.
The mysteries of green tea continue to be explored and who knows what we will uncover over time? For now, I think I’m going to put the kettle on and think about it over a nice cup of tea.