The Birth of Tea. Green Tea Production and Brewing - Rivertea Blog
Carmen Rotaru | On 31, Jan 2013
We love our cup of tea in the mornings, but have you ever wondered where does tea come from? Find out more about green tea production plus extra tips on how to brew a perfect cup of tea.
Tea consumption has its origins in China and it has been around for centuries. We can find lots of mentions in the Chinese literature about tea traditions and also lots of books entirely dedicated to tea, among the oldest ones being a book written during the Tang Dynasty, somewhere between 600 and 900 AD. This book is considered to be one of the most important pieces ever written on green tea history and it basically shows how green tea tradition was integrated in the lives of Chinese people. The three volume book with the title “Tea Classic” covered everything related to tea from the proper techniques to growing plants to brewing tea. There was even a detailed description of a formal tea ceremony utilizing 27 pieces of equipment.
The green tea consumption habit has quickly spread from Asia to Europe and North America, becoming nowadays a daily routine in the lives of millions of people worldwide. But have you ever wondered how tea is produced? What is the path as the tea travels from the garden to the cup? Green tea leaves pass through a long process of growing, harvesting and processing finally ending up in our own cups. Let’s take a walk into the fascinating world of producing green tea.
How Its Made?
The great green tea producers are China and Japan. India, Vietnam and Thailand are also involved in the process of bringing green tea closer to its consumers, featuring a quite old tradition in the tea industry. Green tea is grown and processed in numerous different ways depending on the tea type and properties producers and farmers want to obtain.
The Green Tea Growing Process
The growing process is basically split in two growing types, depending on the green tea variety farmers want to obtain. There are the green tea plants which grow directly in the sun’s heat and those green tea plants which grow in the shade. The tea varieties grown in the shade are more expensive than the ones grown in full sun. The reason for shading the tea plants is to increase chlorophyll production in the plants by reducing natural photosynthesis in the leaves. The flavor of the tea would be enhanced by this growing in the shade process, making it more aromatic than the tea brewed with leaves grown in the sun.
The Green Tea Harvesting Process
The green tea plants are grown in rows that are pruned to produce shoots in a regular manner, and are generally harvested three times per year. The first harvest takes place in late April to early May. This is the harvest which brings on the market the best quality green tea leaves and it is the most expensive green tea on the market. The second harvest usually takes place from June through July, and the third picking takes place in late July to early August. Sometimes, there will also be a fourth harvest, depending on the climatic conditions of that particular year.
The Green Tea Processing
After the harvesting, the processing part of green tea begins. The tea leaves will begin to wilt soon after picking, with a gradual onset of enzymatic oxidation. Withering is used to remove excess water from the leaves and allows a very slight amount of oxidation. Then the leaf disruption process follow which can be done by kneading, rolling, tearing, and crushing, usually by machinery.
The processed leaves of green tea also known in China as “aracha” are stored in 30 or 60 kg paper bags at 0–5 °C, under low humidity refrigeration. The leaves in this state will be re-fired throughout the year as they are needed, giving the green teas a longer shelf life and better flavor.
After these drying and disruption processes, each tea will be sorted by the size, packed and sent over to consumers.
Green Tea Brewing Tips
Green tea brewing is pretty simple. In general, there are used 2 grams of tea for 100 ml of water. The brewing process and quantities used depend on the green tea variety.
The Perfect Temperature for a Perfect Green Tea
We should be very attentive to water temperature. Water temperature is critical when it comes to the flavor and aroma of the green tea. The sweetness of green tea is given by natural sugars and a variety of amino-acids. Green tea also features polyphenols, natural organic chemicals which are know to be responsible for the green tea’s health benefits. That is why it is better to keep the water’s temperature between 60 and 85 Celsius degrees. Amino acids need a temperature of 60 Celsiuls degrees to dissolve, while polyphenols, also known as tannis, dissolve at around 80 Celsius degrees.
This optimum temperature can be obtained very easily. The most accurate and classic way of doing this is the use of a thermometer. Other simple way in achieving this is to get the water at the boiling temperature and afterwards let it cool down just a little. The water can be easily cooled down by pouring it into a Pyrex glass cup (a glass cup which features thermal resistance to high temperatures) and wait for 2 or 3 minutes. Another way is to play with the water to help it cool down. You can pour it from one cup to another, preferably ceramic cup, until it gets the right temperature, between 60 and 85 Celsius degrees.
“A cup of tea would restore my normality.” (Douglas Adams)
Steeping Green Tea
Green tea does not need to steep for a long time. Too much of steeping results in more bitterness and a less balanced flavor. Japanese green teas generally taste best at 1 – 2 minutes, while Chinese green teas seem to be perfect after 2 – 3 minutes. Steeping time needs to be balanced with water temperature: the lower the temperature, the longer the tea can be steeped.
And this is it, a long process resulting in a tasty, flavorful, healthy and natural beverage. It doesn’t take long to prepare a perfect green tea, but it is a lot of work before having the perfect green tea leaves at home or in our favorite tearoom. It’s tea time!
We’ll soon launch our new incredible tasty tea blends. Join us, there are lots of special gifts waiting for you.