Japanese green tea is the fragrant, jade-colored beverage you may have enjoyed in Japanese restaurants or health food restaurants.
If you travel to Japan, you will be offered green tea on most occasions and in most venues. In the Western world, products like bottled ice green tea, diet supplements and even green tea cakes have raised the popularity of green tea in ways far beyond its original form.
Green tea vs. black tea
The first question most people have is what makes the tea green and how it is different from the black tea that is the staple drink of many nationalities?
Green tea and black tea are both sourced from the plant Camellia sinensis, however, the two teas go through different processes and end up as different products. To make green tea, leaves are steamed and then dried. Black teas are dried after picking, which produces a different flavor and allows oxidation, reducing the health benefits which are said to be retained by the green tea.
History of green tea
China, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Japan are the main producers of green tea although it is also grown in other countries.
Tea has been popular in Japan since around A.D. 1191. Originally brought from China to Japan by Buddhist monks around the ninth century, tea moved from being the drink of choice for monks, warriors and the ruling classes, to part of daily life for the majority of the population.
The new process of steam drying the tea leaves, which resulted in the production of green tea, was first used in 1738. After that, green tea outstripped the popularity of black tea in Japan. The Japanese tea ceremony, in which powdered green tea is prepared and presented in a prescribed manner, was originally performed in Buddhist monasteries as a religious ritual that developed over the years to become an integral part of Japanese culture.
Green tea has many reported health benefits, including cancer and diabetes prevention, an antidepressant and an aid to weight loss. There have been studies that supported its health benefits, as well as studies that found no great benefits. It is worth noting that population studies have indicated that cancer rates tend to be lower in Japanese people who drink green tea regularly.
Green tea varieties
Green tea comes in loose leaf, tea bag and powdered forms. It has a shorter shelf life than black tea and needs to be kept away from moisture and stored in an airtight container. This site has complete instructions for preparing green tea in ways designed to best preserve its delicate flavor.
As tea is the second most commonly consumed drink in the world after water, it has obviously captured the taste buds of a high percentage of the population. Japanese green tea is a light and refreshing version that may well be worth a place in your pantry. It also tastes great and has a lower caffeine content than coffee.