About Green Tea
The Essence of Spring
Bursting with vibrant grassy flavours, a sublime natural sweetness and a satisfying silky texture, green tea has been a connoisseur drink in the East for centuries.
Sadly in the West many have only tried the poor quality dust tea bags on supermarket shelves, and think of green tea as a bitter health-drink which is to be endured but not enjoyed. The reality of authentic, whole leaf green tea is the exact opposite; a world of incredible taste and discovery, in a heritage stretching back to the very beginning of tea.
Early picked spring green teas are highly prized as the first shoots are deliciously tender and flavourful. In China, the value of spring green teas is closely related to dates in the lunar calendar: pre-Qing Ming (early April) and pre-rain (mid-April) being the most sought after. An early picked West Lake Dragon Well from Hangzhou can sell for tens of thousands of pounds a kilogram. In reality such distinctions do not directly imply high quality tea, and some tea gardens, for example in mountainous areas, may not start picking until after Qing Ming as the bushes do not start shooting until the weather warms up. Our expertise takes us to the very best batches of fresh spring tea each year; qualified by authenticity and unrivaled taste.
The Taste of True Green Tea
There are hundreds if not thousands of green teas in China alone. The best green teas are deliciously fresh and sappy – they taste green and alive, as if drinking the essence of spring.
The final taste is determined in the expert processing of the fresh leaf. The result can range from gently nutty if processed by pan firing such as with China’s most prized Dragon Well, or verdant and grassy if steamed as showcased in Japanese Gyokuro and Sencha.
How Green Tea is Made
The Key: Stopping Oxidisation
Green tea processing is characterised by an initial stage of short intense heat to inactivate enzymes in the leaf and prevent oxidisation. The fresh leaves are picked and withered briefly before undergoing this first heating stage known as “kill green” (sha qing in Chinese). There are three main ways to do sha qing resulting in different styles of tea: steam, bake or fry. Thereafter the processing stages are combinations involving shaping and/or drying the tea until it reaches a minimal moisture content around 5%. Some further sorting or grading might take place on the dried leaf before it is considered finished product.
Pickers carefully and quickly select suitable leaves from the tea bush.
The leaves are laid out in ambient conditions to allow them to wilt and lose moisture.
The leaves are heated to de-activate the enzymes that would otherwise cause the leaf to oxidise.
To create the unique style of each tea, such as flat spear-shaped Dragon Well.
To reduce the moisture content of the leaves to 5% for storage.
Green Tea Making Tips
Key Making Tips
Green teas tend to be more delicate than other teas. To avoid scalding the fresh leaves and having a bitter infusion, make your green tea with 70°C – 80°C water. High quality loose leaf green teas can be re-infused at least twice, but be sure to fully decant each infusion to avoid an over-infused bitter taste. Read our carefully designed recipes on each product page.