Green Tea - What's Good And Bad?

by Nal

Julian, what's the difference between good and bad green tea?

I like your site, I've just been reading it these past few days as I was interested in where the boundary between good and bad green tea lay.

I bought 250 grams of 2007 Long Jing (no idea which grade but certainly not the highest) at £27.

I am pleased with it, I just love opening the bag and sticking my nose in, though it gets bitter easily above 70 degrees.

I am relatively new to this game and am enjoying myself thoroughly.

Answer:

Ian, where do I begin? Tea prices are determined by grades, which in turn in determined by location, crop dates and the growing season.

Grading

Let's start with location. Older tea villages tend to produce higher quality teas than the newer tea farms. Higher altitude better than lower altitude.

In the context of Long Jing tea, even within the West Lake, Lion Peak Mountain will be higher quality than Meijiawu village that in turn will be better than other West Lake villages etc.

Cropping dates are obvious. The earliest picks are fatter, sweeter and richer.

Seasonality is obvious. Spring green tea is head and shoulder above the rest. Summer harvested tea is the lowest quality. The best tea gardens in China only harvest their teas once a year.

Taste and Nutrition

Higher grade tea produced in famous locations tend to be more consistent and easier to brew. They perform well at high temperature (up to boiling point).

They are sweet to drink, which is partly due to their high theanine content, which also makes them very calming and soothing.

They also taste infinitely richer. Which means you get brew using a smaller quantity and find they last longer.

The very highest grade is also aromatic and nasal, which is often described as orchid fragrance. Such high quality green tea, of course, is extremely rare. HQ's King grade is one example. But I wouldn't recommend it other than to a true connoisseurs due to its high cost and subtle flavours.

You can also tell by the appearance. Higher grade is handpicked, regular, unbroken, one-bud-two-leaf or higher, and fatter.

As for nutritions, high quality teas tend to contain more of theanine, EGCG and caffeine. You may want to check out the article below:

Best Green Tea Chemical Secrets

I hope this helps.

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