Green tea: healthy, tasty, refreshing. Smells good, too. And it's everywhere. It's there in coffee shops, whether your cosy independent or high street Starbucks; it's piled high along those Waitrose isles; it's even at the back of your kitchen cupboard. In fact, so much do we see it all around that we even dare to think we know the ubiquitous green tea; we think we know how it should taste and where it's from. We think we know its secrets. But we don't. Not a bit of it.
So with that in mind, here are our top 3 craaazy facts and things you never know about delicious green tea:
1. Brewing time
Keep it short, keep it warm - but not too hot. Steep - or brew - green tea at boiling temperature and you'll and up with a bitter, astringent taste that will ruin your tea break. But with a temperature closer to 70, 80 degrees centigrade, you be able to extract just the right amount of sweet and fresh.
2. Making green tea green tea
Surprisingly, green tea comes from the same plant that produces leaves for black tea. And white tea. And oolong tea. That's because all teas come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis. Except herbal teas. They're different. So in order to make green tea, it is unwilted, unoxidised, preventing it from becoming strong in caffeine (unlike black tea, for example) while ensuring a high content of general goodness. Some green teas, such as Japanese gyokuro are shade-grown, making them especially rich in antioxidents and catechins. Yum.
3. Green tea love
The Japanese love green tea so much that they have entire ceremonies dedicated to it. The Way of Tea is a carefully practised ritual which took form during the early days of green tea's time in Japan, and uses the preparation, drinking and sharing of matcha tea as a central feature of a ceremony that promotes harmony and balance. There areas o many different aspects to it all that a Japanese tea ceremony including friends or colleagues may last for anything up to four hours.
Hmmm, lovely, healthy, delicious green tea - and, with it being over 1000 years in the making, it doesn't just have an abundance of varieties and flavours, but also plenty of secrets.