TEA101 – Types of Green Tea
Any person new to tea, especially Chinese tea, has had that Aha! moment when she learned that the were not just two, but six main types of tea, all coming from the same plant and with amazing differences in sizes, shapes, aromas and tastes.
Next Aha! moment comes when you realise the diversity within each category. This diversity is probably the greatest in the world of green tea – as I try to show in today’s infographics.
To make green tea, we need to stop oxidation by destroying the enzymes responsible for it. We do it by exposing the leaves to high temperatures. In Chinese, the process can be referred to as 杀青 ShaQing, or “killing-green“.
As an old song goes, there are fifty ways to leave your lover. In green tea, there are three main ways to “kill-green”: steaming (蒸青 zheng qing), roasting/pan-frying (炒青chao qing) and baking (烘青 hong qing). These differences in processing bring an important layer of diversity into the outcome, because they affect the shape and taste of a particular green tea. Oh, one can also also quote killing-green by sun-drying but this is marginal.
Steaming is great because it keeps the immaculate greenness along the three main aspects of tea: dry leaves, infused leaves and liquor. On the downside, to some the teas processed by steaming may seem too grassy and relatively more bitter.
Roasting & baking (they sometimes go in combo) are great because they enable a huge variety of shapes and sizes and add a lot of new aroma dimensions to the final tea. Roasting has its own subcategories: for long and round roasting use mature leaves, while flat roasting use buds and the most tender leaves. The downside of roasting is that there is no more immaculate greenness…
I wish you a great day full of Aha! moments and surprising discoveries.