International Tea Day: Did you know these facts about green tea?

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International Tea Day is observed annually on May 21 to create awareness about the significance of tea around the world, in terms of economy and culture. We may be a tea loving country, enjoying the brew in its various forms. But how much do you actually know about green tea? Here is a fun fact: green tea originates from the plant species Camellia Sinensis, which also helps produce black or white tea. It is only the way these leaves are processed that decides whether the tea is ‘green’ or ‘black’.
Origination of green tea
Tea was originally invented in China for medicinal purpose and first put to use nearly 4,000 years ago. By the third century, it became a regular drink, leading to its cultivation and processing. Dolly Kumar, founder and director, Gaia tells theindianexpress.com, “the tea got popularised in Japan around 1190 when a Zen priest visiting and studying in China’s great Buddhist monasteries and temples returned to Japan with tea plant seeds and bushes. He popularised the way of tea as a meditation ritual within his own community of Buddhist monks, eventually spreading the custom of tea drinking throughout the rest of Japan.”

Types and variants of green tea
The unprocessed nature of green tea is what makes it taste sweeter, robust and less bitter than its counterparts. However, not all green teas taste the same, even after coming from the same plant variety. The tastes vary on the basis of the processing methods and cultivation practices. The flavour also depends on the environment where the tea is grown. Kumar adds, “While the Chinese green teas like dragonwell and gunpowder impart a grassy, earthy, roasted flavour due to their pan-fried processing, Japanese green teas have a unique sweet, vegetal or seaweed-like flavour acquired from the steaming process.”

In India, sencha and matcha are the two most popular Japanese green teas. “While sencha tea produces a clear yellow/green tea with a sweet, grassy but slightly astringent flavour, matcha is an entire leaf grounded into a rich green powder,” informs Kumar. The powder is mixed with boiling water and gently whisked before being served. The powder imparts a light and sweet flavour making it apt to be used in desserts and sweet beverages.