The Many Shades of Green Tea

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The Many Shades of Green Tea

Posted by Brandon Ford / March 17, 2014


Hi Tea Lover,

I hope you had a wonderful February. I sure did. I celebrated my 36th birthday! It was pretty darn terrific. As a kid, did you ever imagine what you would be doing when you turned 30 or 40? Did you see yourself as a movie star, a millionaire or President of the United States? I thought I would be jetting around the city in my flying car; the envy of all the commuters stuck in traffic. I imagined I would be so rich that I would have my own private island with no rules -- except the ones I created, of course. I still hope those things for myself too :-).

The one thing I never imagined I would be doing at 36 was creating tea blends that are being shared all over the world. Woot! I love what I do and I love you!  

I got a chance to try some really awesome green teas last month. Many were gifts from family, friends and even a few of you. The remainder was samples I’ve collected as I scout the world for teas to use in our next blends.  

It’s not until you line up a bunch of teas can you truly appreciate how different they can be,  depending on where they are grown and how they are processed.  

You can't taste tea in a vacuum and expect to learn.

The wine lover in me went right to the wine-making process. Ever notice how Cabernet from California tastes different than Cabernet from France? The same thing happens in the tea world, and green tea is a wonderful example.  Climate, geography, processing techniques, they all play a part in determining what ends up in your cup.

My Favorite Green Teas

Green teas abound in the retail market today. While you will likely find a lot of it in ready-to-drink bottled form, when I perused the local tea aisle at my favorite specialty food store, I found a ton of loose leaf and bagged green tea ready to be explored. If you are feeling adventurous here are a few of my favorite green teas:

Genmaicha -- This Japanese green tea looks like it has bits of tiny popcorn in it. Really, it does. In fact, it is rice that has been popped. When this rice is combined with the green tea it produces a sweet, toasted nut flavor, which compliments the clean floral notes of the green tea quite nicely.  Consider pairing this tea with seafood, specifically sushi.

Longjing (Dragonwell) --  This Chinese green tea is very popular and is relatively easy to find at a local specialty market. Dragonwell is extremely flavorful often being described as having chestnut-like aromas. It is soft, rich and easy to enjoy, especially if you are new to green tea. This tea can easily accompany lighter-styled chicken and seafood dishes, although I like to pair it with smoked cheese.

Houjicha --  Holy Houjicha! I love it! This Japanese green tea is roasted in a pot over charcoal. The high heat changes the color of the leaves from green to brown. The roasting process imparts a wonderfully toasted flavor to these teas that gets extracted into the liquor when you brew it. Green tea can have lots of vegetal notes, but this one bucks the trend with beautiful toasted and sweet caramel notes.  Yum!  Pair this with grilled foods or even a cigar if you’re feeling adventurous.

Matcha -- Okay, so while I really enjoy Matcha, and it is becoming a lot more popular, it takes a bit more preparation than other teas, plus a few special tools -- a bowl and whisk. Why? Matcha is produced in a powder form. Yep, powder. This makes it extremely versatile as it can go into food, smoothies, mixed drinks, etc., but it can be a little weird for the novice. It’s a powerfully vegetal (think freshly mixed greens, spinach) tea as evidenced by its rich green color with some bitter notes on the finish (the aftertaste).  

Flavored / Blended Green Teas -- A bit self-serving, yes I know. However, I would be lying if I did not mention my love affair with flavored green teas. For the fearless, a whole new world of tea is currently being created and explored. There are some really brave tea makers out there and they are creating some awesome teas. Don’t be afraid to try. Specifically when exploring green teas, the vegetal and sometimes sweet characteristics of green tea lend itself wonderfully to blending and flavoring.  For me, I couldn’t have thought of a better canvas to explore Sauvignon Blanc in our own Green Tea Sauvignon. There, the green notes of the tea combined with some organic grapefruit immediately conjure up memories of some of my favorite New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. 

Green Tea Preparation

The most important things to remember when brewing green teas are water temperature and steeping time. Green teas tend to be a bit more delicate than other teas and thus require the water to cool from boil. If you use boiling water, the tea can become bitter. The same thing can occur when steeped too long; the tea will begin to release bitter notes. Check out our Make A Good Brew page for more info on brewing green tea. Just remember, brew to your own tastes and requirements. Our guide is only a starting point.  

So what are you waiting for! Get out there and explore what the green tea world has to offer.

I would love to hear about what you find -- so, leave comments below, post photos and descriptions on our FB page, or pin it up on Pinterest. Use #VTWGreenluv and I’ll see you soon!


Brandon Ford - Chief TeaMaker

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At Vintage TeaWorks, we are passionate about two things – tea and wine.  So passionate are we about these divine delights that we set out to find a way to bring the two of them together.  We scoured the market and were disappointed to see what was available – teas that were artificially flavored to mimic wine weren’t what we expected or what we wanted.  We knew we could do better and Vintage TeaWorks was born.  Our teas aren't meant to mimic or recreate wine, but rather to celebrate wine and tea's unique characteristics. Read More