Determining Quality Green Tea Part I

This post I will try to show you where quality tea is coming from, what forms they take, the differences in growing styles, and possibly some well-known teas.

Let’s get back in to shapes and explain where it is most common to find each shape. There are a few main shapes, rolled or curled, strand, and crushed. I learned a fun way to remember a general  tip for locating where a certain tea is from, strand in the north, balled in the south. I’ll let you make the connection.

**This is general and a result of my experience with green tea. Feel free to test this on your own**

Longjing

A sample of XiHu Longjing and strand leaves.

In China there are quite a few places green tea is produced. A very famous location is in Hangzhou. There is a tea museum there that is actually on a tea plantation. The tea that is most well-known is called Longjing, there is West Lake Longjing and Zhejiang. Longjing is also known as Dragonwell, I have seen these terms used interchangeably. This type of tea usually comes in a softer strand form.

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Example of Biluochun, a little more curled than the longjing

Example of Biluochun, a little more curled than the longjing

China also has rolled forms that is coming more from the Southern areas of Fujian and Yunnan. Bi Luo Chun is a well-known tea that is often rolled. In regards to the green teas coming out of Yunnan, they are usually stronger and bolder in taste. Yunnan is a puer producing area so the green teas are actually coming from these powerful puer trees. We will further discuss taste in the flavor profiles and brewing section.

Taiwan is producing green teas as well. In my time there I saw a lot more balled green teas than strand. It is actually pretty hard to initially tell the difference between the balled green teas and the balled oolong. If you look closely at the leaves, the green tea seems to be a little looser than the balled oolong. This deserves some further research!

Korea has some impressive green teas! The guys at the Penn State Tea Institute had the opportunity to visit a Korean Tea Master, his plantation, and actually got the chance to make some of their own green tea. The one tea I had the opportunity of tasting was called Sejak and was in strand form.

A lot of Japan’s tea culture is focused around green tea. Matcha and Sencha are the first teas that come to mind. Matcha is the form of tea that is usually grounded and machine crushed. Everyone has probably seen this whisked in a bowl. Sencha can also be crushed but can take on the leaf form. In my experience sencha has small stranded style. One source even went as far to say that the only difference between these two is the way in which the tea plant are grown. One is mostly shaded and the other has more direct sun. This segways us into the shaded vs sun area, but we must know some a little about plantation and wild tea origins.

–>>>> PART II

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