Antioxidants and good looks are only just the start of this beautiful tea.
So, what does green tea taste like? Green tea can taste earthy, sweet, toasty, buttery, and somewhat grassy. However, its taste highly depends on a lot of factors. This includes where it was sourced, its preparation, and brewing methods. There are also many types of green tea with different distinct flavor profiles.
Let me explain.
Green tea has been around for decades. But it’s been gaining even more popularity in the past few years.
It is healthy, tastey and, for many has become a pantry staple, a go-to boba order, and an any-time-of-day pick-me-up.
People even use it as an ingredient for various recipes. Green tea mattresses and moisturizers also exist nowadays too!
It’s definitely more than just a tasty drink. Green tea holds many benefits for your health.
And personally, it’s one of my favorite types of teas!
You’re probably here because you’re curious about how it tastes. You might also be contemplating if you’ll like it or not.
Or, you might have tasted a bitter cup and wondered if it should really taste that way.
Some of Green Tea’s most common characteristics and descriptions are earthy and herbaceous.
But, as we mentioned above, many factors influence the final taste of green tea.
It varies depending on where it was sourced and produced. Some types of green tea also give off more prominent notes than others.
Furthermore, green tea should also be brewed in a certain way to extract its best flavors. You can add sugar and milk to green tea, too, if you dare!
So, we’re here today to break down the taste of green tea. We tackle its flavor profiles, types, and, most importantly, how to brew a good cup.
What Is Green Tea?
Green tea, like other true teas, is made from the Camellia Sinensis plant. It consists of a unique harvesting and preservation process.
It is an unoxidized tea. Once harvested, they are cooked promptly to avoid oxidation. And because of this, green teas have a far greater quantity of polyphenols, chlorophylls, and antioxidants.
Regarding origins, China is said to be the birthplace of green tea. One theory holds that the Chinese still use the general term tea to describe green tea. And some historians say that the Camellia Sinesis plant was first discovered in Yunnan.
On top of this, green tea was also traditional medicine. Monks sipped on it to relieve stress and help with brain health.
There are actually far too many stories and historic milestones of green tea. Nevertheless, its history lives on until today.
While all green teas come from Camellia Sinensis, many diverse varieties are cultivated and manufactured in countries across the globe. This includes Japan, China, Taiwan, Hawaii, and more.
This alone plays a huge factor in how green tea tastes.
Then, there are other meticulous determinants like the harvesting season, pruning methods, and temperature.
China and Japan are among the leading exporters and producers of green tea. And for the most part, other nations’ green tea processing methods are modeled after theirs.
So what are the different types and flavors of green tea?
Types Of Green Tea and Their Flavors
It is much easier to determine the taste of green tea through its type. You’ll also be able to find which one suits your palate more.
Here’s a breakdown of the different popular types of green tea:
Chinese Green Tea
Chinese green tea is made through pan-firing. Here, tea leaves are warmed either manually or mechanically by use of a spinning drum, pan, or basket. This is mainly how they halt the oxidation process.
Some green tea manufacturers also fire their tea leaves multiple times. The type of firing apparatus also varies. This includes wicker baskets, wok-like steel pans, metal drums, and more. Tea leaves can be heated using a hot air blower, charcoal, an electric heater, or a gas flame.
Ultimately, it all depends on the type of Chinese green tea being produced.
Chinese green is usually dark green or yellow-green in color. It takes on a more roasted, grassy, and smokey taste.
The Dragonwell green tea is said to be the most unique Chinese green tea. In fact, they say that no one can duplicate its taste and appearance.
It is smooth and sword-like in shape. In terms of smell, it impacts a faint, crisp snap pea and chestnut aroma.
It’s easy on the palate, with toasted, smooth, and nutty profiles. When brewed properly, it is not bitter or harsh.
The term gunpowder comes from the tea’s resemblance to pellets.
This type of Chinese green tea is fired in a holed steel tumbler. This tumbler dispurses the green tea leaves in an eight-figure movement.
Gunpowder has a stronger and more profound flavor than other green teas. It has a subtle hint of nuttiness and smokiness.
This tea’s leaves grow as it steeps. You can also steep and infuse it more than once.
Japanese Green Tea
On the other hand, Japanese green tea undergoes a steaming method. Here, tea leaves undergo a quick streaming method to stop the oxidation process.
This also helps emphasize the greenness of the leaf and brewed tea.
Steaming creates more of a sweet and herbal flavor profile. You can somehow compare its notes to seaweed.
Certain Japanese green teas also undergo a shade-growing or roasting process. This helps with enhancing the tastes and characteristics of each tea type.
Furthermore, there are over twenty types of green tea produced in Japan.
Here are the most common:
This type of tea accounts for more than half of Japan’s tea production. It’s the most widely consumed tea in its country.
Sencha is a kind of first-flush tea, which means that farmers harvest them early in the season.
After steeping, Sencha tea leaves get rolled into lengthy, thin strands. Its appearance resembles dried grass.
It takes on a subtle yellow tint when brewed, and the aroma is also bright and refreshing. On the first sip, you will taste a smooth, fresh, and very herbaceous tea.
It features notes similar to kiwi fruit and kale.
This type of tea may come off as surprising to you at first glance. In terms of appearance, it isn’t your typical green tea leaves. It’s brown in color and looks like shaved or small tree bark, the smell isn’t all that great, too.
But, as they say, looks can be deceiving. If you give it a chance, Hojicha might just be your favorite Japanese green tea.
“Hojicha” is the Japanese word for “roasted green tea leaves.” And, that’s precisely how it’s processed.
Upon steeping, the leaves expand and display a gorgeous golden color. It also features a pleasant caramel mouthfeel.
It’s somehow similar to the taste of Genmaicha. However, it has more subdued toasty undertones.
Hojicha powder is also common nowadays. The powder tastes similar to its tea leaf form. But, it’s creamier, smokier, sweeter, with hints of cocoa. In other words, it’s more concentrated.
And, Hojicha is a great choice for those who want a lower-caffeine tea!
This also might look a little different upon appearance. Genmaicha is a mixture of green tea leaves (typically Sencha) and toasted brown rice.
Genmaicha was initially developed to cut the price of tea in Japan. This is because you just need a little number of its leaves for brewing.
This Japanese green tea is very toasty and nutty, mainly because of the rice. You can compare it to drinking barely tea if you’ve had one before.
It also features a hint of caramel and floral notes and is one my all-time favorites.
The Gyokoro green tea is very intriguing. It’s premium Japanese green tea. So, yes, expect to also pay a premium for it.
Farmers shade-grow Gyokoro for as long as three weeks and during the steeping process, the tea becomes a stunning shade of deep green. It also looks like it rips apart upon brewing.
The taste of Gyokoro is incredibly full-bodied. You can really taste the grassiness and aforementioned seaweed-like taste in this one.
However, it leaves you with a lingering sweet note. It’s one of those green teas that impart a strong umami flavor.
It also doesn’t have a harsh taste, however, it can be more bitter than most Japanese teas.
If you’re a tea connoisseur, like I pretend to be haha you’ll definitely enjoy the adventure of flavors in this tea.
Last but not least is the ever-so-famous Matcha. You’ve likely seen this everywhere, It’s a boba menu favorite!
What makes it so special, though?
Unlike the other teas on this list, Matcha comes in a powdered form.
Matcha is in a world of its own, and there are various qualities to it.
Instead of the usual steeping, it’s swirled (or traditionally whisked) in hot water. This creates a bubbly, frothy beverage.
In fact, Matcha making and sipping are the foundation of Japanese ceremonies.
Matcha imparts a rich, full-bodied taste with soft vegetal flavors. It comes with a hint of natural sweetness and just a tinge (but not harsh) of bitterness. Matcha’s delicious umami flavor is one of the main reasons it’s so popular.
Today, it’s mostly served with milk and sweetener — a matcha latte.
Why Does Green Tea Taste Bitter?
Tea contains natural compounds like tannins and catechins that make the tea slightly tart.
Green tea has a high concentration of catechins, which makes it more vulnerable to bitterness.
BUT, green tea shouldn’t be overly or harshly bitter. If you’ve once had a bad, harsh cup of green tea, it’s most probably because it was brewed incorrectly!
Don’t blame it on the boogie, or the tea
So, here’s how you can brew a less bitter and great-tasting cup of green tea.
How To Brew A Great Cup Of Green Tea
A great cup of green tea lies in the brewing process.
If you want to make one at home, here are some great tips to keep in mind:
Opt For Filtered Water
Tea is predominantly water.
Therefore, using not-so-good water makes a not-so-good cuppa.
Green teas don’t develop well in tap or distilled water. Tap water can make the green tea taste sour once it melds with the green tea’s chemical components. Distilled water, on the other hand, makes the tea lose its taste.
So, if you’re brewing green tea, try using filtered, spring, or bottled water.
Brew At The Right Temperature
Another major cause of bitter green tea is the water temperature. High temperatures cause the polyphenols to release too quickly. Its leaves also scorch its delicate leaves, which results in a bitter and sour taste.
That said, don’t brew your green tea with boiling water. Aim for a below-boiling temp, between 150 and 180 F.
You can do this with a tea kettle with temperature control. It’s completely fine if you don’t have this, though, just boil some water and allow it to cool for about two minutes.
Some people think that the longer you steep, the more flavor will be extracted. This can be true for cold brewed teas.
But, this is definitely not the case for hot green tea.
Steeping tea for too long will make your cuppa bitter. It’s quite similar to cooking food. Overcooking causes food to burn and lose its good flavor.
So, time your infusion. The best steeping time is usually 3-5 minutes. Any less and more than that results in a watery or bitter tea.
Use Good Quali-tea! (sorry, I had to)
Following the three steps above should do the trick — even if you’re simply using a bag of cheap green tea.
But, if your tea still tastes bitter, the tea you’re using is likely the culprit.
Green teas of poor quality may have a bitter taste. This is usually the case with tea bags. Most tea bags contain a lesser quality tea and not the best flavor.
Sure, I am generalizing here, but try out loose-leaf green tea if you’re seeking a really good distinct flavor.
It may seem intimidating at first, especially if it’s your first time. But, you’ll find that loose-leaf brewing is simpler and more flexible than you thought
Add More Ingredients
If you’re not a fan of the powerful herbaceous and slightly bitter notes, you can add sugar or milk. You can also add in a lemon for a fresh flavor and added aroma.
This all sounds pretty meticulous, doesn’t it? There’s no harm in trying, though. You’ll see how it makes a good difference in your tea tastes.
What Does Green Tea Taste Like? The Bottomline
Green tea generally tastes earthy and naturally sweet but can also taste toasty, caramel-like, and packed with umami.
It ultimately depends on how it’s processed and how you brew it.
But of course, the best way to find out about the taste of green tea is to have a cup yourself! It’s surely worth trying.
Green tea, anyone?