The method of planting and harvesting green tea has a significant impact on its overall aroma and taste. Generally speaking, each tea-producing area in the world has its unique climate and specific methods of planting, processing, and picking. This combination explains the difference in taste you experience.
The best tea growing conditions are in Asia, which is why China green tea can become the dominant player in the green tea industry. China accounts for more than 80% of all green tea produced in the world, with Japan, Indonesia, and Vietnam accounting for most of the rest. There are only two places in Europe that produce green tea-the Republic of Georgia in the former Soviet Union and the Azores in Portugal.
Generally speaking, the tea tree (Camellia sinensis) has strong adaptability to different climate and soil conditions. However, it usually grows best in hills or mountains, which is why many of the most famous teas are grown at higher altitudes. According to experts, the best climate for growing green tea is a subtropical climate, with an obvious seasonality-for example, Asian regions experience monsoon and dry seasons.
In many ways, the basic method of green tea production is the same, no matter where in the world it is produced. Tea trees (Camellia sinensis) are planted in rows and harvested three times a year. There are 3 main harvest times in a year, usually from April to May, June to July, and July to August. Generally speaking, the earliest spring harvest is best for making the most popular green tea.
In this basic green tea production model, there are some subtle differences. For example, there is a difference between growing tea in the sun and the shade. The process of drying and producing tea may vary from country to country.
For example, the Chinese usually prefer the process of sun drying, followed by the process of charcoal or pot burning. This is why Chinese tea has a unique earthy taste. This method is often referred to as the "manual method".
In contrast, the Japanese prefer the oven drying process, followed by the tumbling or steaming process. This is the reason for the unique "green leaf" or "plant" taste of Japanese green tea. This method is often referred to as the "modern method".
The tea-making process will also change its taste. This is why in many Asian cultures, there is a very formal tea ceremony. By changing the length and heat of the steeping process, which is the process of infusing the tea with hot water, you can change the taste. It is generally believed that green tea should only be poured into a hot teacup to maintain the taste.
Although the nutritional content of green tea may be limited-it is 99.9% water after all-people are looking for new ways to capture the nutritional benefits of green tea in the form of antioxidants in the other 0.1% tea. After all, for more than four thousand years, people have known that there is a link between drinking green tea and better health, including improving cardiovascular health.
One way to obtain these nutritional benefits is through green tea extract. This is an herbal medicine extracted from green tea leaves. It is believed to be rich in antioxidants, which makes green tea extract popular as a dietary supplement and alternative medicine in various forms.
A little understanding of how green tea is produced can help you become a better tea consumer. You will be able to better identify specific geographic areas known for tea production, and understand how the subtle differences in tea production lead to very different flavors and aromas.