As you will know if you follow my social media or blog, recently Adagio Teas UK sent me a selection of their lovely loose leaf teas to taste and tell you about. In my last post I told you a bit about the background of Adagio and what the company is all about. In this post I want to tell you about green tea and share some of my favourite Adagio green teas with you. I hope you enjoy!
All about tea
All tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The styles of tea are produced by altering the shape and chemistry of the leaf, rather unromantically called ‘processing’ or ‘manufacturing.’
Tea processing is five basic steps; some teas don’t utilize all of these steps, while other teas repeat them several times. Basic processing is Plucking, Withering (allowing the leaves to wilt and soften), Rolling (to shape the leaves and wring out the juices), Oxidising (see below) and Firing (ie: Drying).
The most crucial part, what defines the categories of tea, is Oxidising. Oxidation occurs when the enzymes in the tea leaf interact with oxygen, after the cell walls are broken apart. This can happen quickly, through rolling, cutting or crushing, or more slowly through the natural decomposition of the leaf. Actually, you see the same process in a piece of fruit. Left to sit, an apple will slowly turn brown. Cut or bruise the apple, and it will brown much more quickly.
NOTE: “Oxidation” is still referred to by some in the tea industry as “fermentation.” This stems from an earlier belief that what was happening to the tea leaves was similar to fermentation of grapes into wine. Everyone now knows this is actually oxidation, but because of its long history, fermentation is still used. This is actually quite common to hear from very expert tea professionals in India, for example.
Green Tea is plucked, withered and rolled. It is not oxidised because during the rolling process, oxidation is prevented by applying heat. For green tea, the fresh leaves are either steamed or pan-fired (tossed in a hot, dry wok) to a temperature hot enough to stop the enzymes from browning the leaf. This is similar to blanching vegetables. Simultaneously, the leaves are shaped by curling with the fingers, pressing into the sides of the wok, rolling and swirling – countless shapes have been created, all of them tasting different. The liquor of a green tea is typically a green or yellow colour, and flavours range from toasty, grassy (pan fired teas) to fresh steamed greens (steamed teas) with mild, vegetable-like astringency.
My four favourite Adagio green teas
Gyokuro is a Japanese tea and is prized as one of the finest. It is grown in the shade for several weeks which slows the growth, allowing tea leaves more time to develop depth and flavour. The sun deprivation is what gives the tea its intense green colour. They are also higher in amino acids than other teas giving a smooth, rich and soft flavour. The taste is gentle but satisfying and the aroma is like freshly steamed greens, delicious.
Genmai Cha is a Japanese green tea with toasted/popped rice in it. Originally, it was made to bulk out tea and make it last longer when supplies were low. It has a savoury rice flavour and smells slightly of sesame, a very interesting tea.
Sleeping Dragon is a Chinese green tea, it is grown at about 1,000 metres in the mountainous Fujian province. Its tightly rolled leaves and silvery fuzzy buds give this tea its signature shape and name. It tastes sweet and smoky and is great for people who oppose the grassy flavour of some other green teas.
Jasmine Phoenix Pearls
Another tea from Fujian province in China, Jasmine Phoenix Pearls are highly scented and hand-rolled, any fan of jasmine tea should try this. When added to hot water the pearls majestically unfurl, releasing their delicate scent and flavour. Also known as ‘Jasmine Dragon Pearls’, their liquor is sweet and as the name suggests, delicately flavoured with Jasmine. The delicate quality of the flavour is due in part to the leaves used to produce this tea: two tender, tiny new leaves and one plump, unopened leaf bud.
Look out for my next post about Adagio’s black tea range or take a look at their website now.
Information used for this post is from and courtesy of Adagio Teas UK.