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Origination of Green Tea
According to The Story of Green Tea in 2001, Green tea is said to have originated in 2737 BC. It all started when the Chinese Emperor, Shen Nung, who was habitual of boiling his water, discovered that his habit was directly linked to good health and longevity. The Emperor was therefore remembered as the “Divine Healer”. One fine day, when he knelt to boil his water, the Emperor noticed that a few leaves from a nearby tree had strayed into his pot. When the Emperor drank this solution, he discovered that it had an unusual taste. Mesmerized by the taste and aroma, he went on to proclaim this beverage as “heaven sent”.
Legend has it that the first cup of green tea was brewed almost five hundred years ago. Over the years, the popularity of green tea grew four folds and it is now considered as the second most popular beverage in the world. The only drink which surpasses green tea in terms of popularity is water. In a short span of time, green tea shot to fame in Japan and Far East Asia.
According to The Story of Green Tea 2001, in the year 1650, the Dutch brought tea from China to America. Later, in the year 1669, the British East India Company brought tea leaves to England. In the year 1721, the British East India Company was granted monopoly on all the tea leaves that were allowed to slip inside the British Empire.
The Story of Green Tea 2001 indicates that in the olden days, tea was an expensive commodity and only the royalty and the rich could afford to make use of it on a regular basis. In those days, the price of tea per pound was $29 to $49. Likewise, a pound of tea was sufficient to make 200 tea bags. During the 1800s, ships laden with tea, used to race against each other in a bid to reach the ports with their cargo. The first clipper always managed to command the highest price. With time, as the ferrying continued on a speedy basis, England was loaded with green tea and this in turn led to the reduction in the overall price of tea.
The Making of Japanese Green Tea
Green tea is consumed throughout Japan. While there are numerous varieties, the early season sencha and the new season shin cha, are considered to be the best green tea varieties of Japan. These varieties are so popular that various regions compete with each other in a bid to outbid the other in terms of quality and availability.
According to Japanese Green teas 2005, the Gyokuro tea is supposed to be the most expensive of the lot. It is derived from ten-cha. This luxury tea is made from the first flush leaves. It is pale yellow in colour and is blessed with an appetizing flavour. The leaves are grown for 21 days after which, they are harvested. This sudden change in climatic conditions alters the proportions of amino acids, flavones and the aroma content. The tea is sweet in flavour and is preferred by the country’s elite.
The Sencha tea is a roasted variety, which is first treated with steam before being hot dried and finally fried in a pan. Sencha covers three quarters of all tea which is grown in Japan. The colour of Sencha is emerald and its taste is completely dependent on the location of the leaf and the way it has been processed.
Kamairi Cha is the third variety of green tea in Japan. It is a pan fried variety and is therefore referred to as the “Chinese Green Tea”. After the withering procedure, the leaves are fried at 300 degree Celsius. This is done with the aid of hot iron pans, so as to prevent charring.
According to Japanese Green Teas 2005, the Matcha is a well known Japanese green tea variety. It is available in the form of a powder. Although it is regarded as a heave green tea, the overall strength of the Matcha variety depends on its processing. The Mecha is a bud tea which is derived from the early tea buds. It works as an astringent and is bitter in taste. Considered a grade between Gyokuro and Sencha in terms of quality, the Mecha tea is quite famous for its deep aroma. The other varieties of Japanese green tea include Hukamushi, Kukicha, Bancha, Hojicha and Genmaicha.
Tea-The Plant and the Growth Process
According to Tea Growing and Processing 2009, tea is derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant. While there are hundreds and even thousands of varieties of tea in this world, they are all derived from the Camellia Senensis plant. Leaving aide the herbal varieties, tea is just like coffee and although there could be a thousand odd varieties of the same plant, the plant itself is blessed with distinct characteristics. Climate, elevation and soil conditions determine the overall quality of tea. Likewise, tea becomes diverse by the way it is processed.
There are over 3000 varieties of tea the world over and tea leaves are processed through the means of Withering, wherein the leaves are spread on trough to reduce their moisture content, Rolling, wherein tea leaves are rolled so as to retain their texture and release healthy enzymes, Fermentation, wherein the leaves are spread to encourage the process of oxidization, Firing, wherein the fermentation process is retarded and the leaves are passed through hot air chambers to retains their flavour and finally grading, wherein the leftover fannings are used as teabags.
“History: The Story of Green Tea”.2001. Linan Euro-China. 2009. Web.
“Japanese Green Teas “.2005. Relax, Sip & Enjoy: Quality Teas from Around the World. Web.
“Tea Growing and Processing: Brief History and the Plant Processing”. 2009. Midburb.com. Web.