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Loose Green Tea
Genmaicha is the Japanese name for green tea combined with roasted brown rice. While sometimes referred to colloquially as "popcorn tea," because of a certain amount of popped rice, Japanese varieties do not contain any actual corn
Genmaicha is a blend of bancha green tea and Genmai (roasted rice grain). The proportioning of tea to rice is important, the more aromatic Genmaicha teas have a higher amount of rice. Other blends are known including Matcha and Genmaicha. The tea should be infused with high temperature (not quite boiling) water, but let it only infuse for 30 seconds. Use approximately 5 grams of tea for each deciliter of water.
A very common beverage in Japan, Genmaicha can be drunk late into the evening without disturbing sleep. The tea is said to help digestion and is often served after a meal in Japan. Genmaicha is a modest source of vitamin B1 and, like bancha and hojicha, is low in caffeine.
Flavor / Aromoa
The flavor of Genmaicha is a melange of green tea and roasted rice. The roasted aroma of genmai in tea has the effect of lightening the bitterness of the lower-grade sencha. The brown rice gives the tea a nutty flavor. Like green tea, genmaicha should be prepared using hot, but not boiling, water.
Green Sencha Leaf Tea
Over three quarters of all tea produced in Japanese tea gardens is Sencha, a tea selected for its pleasant sharpness and fresh qualities complementing a leaf of high uniformity and rich emerald color. Historically prepared by roasting, today Sencha is steam treated before further processing with hot-air drying and finally pan-frying.
Most regions make a number of kinds of Sencha, which are named according to the kind of processing used. Needle leaf Sencha is processed in Shizuoka and in the Yame region of Fukuoka. In other areas, including Kyushu, the comma-shaped leaf form is processed.
Sencha is the tea most likely to be offered in a Japanese household or restaurant. The higher grades of Sencha are available outside Japan
However, the flavor, color and quality of Sencha varies, depending not only on origin but also season and leaf processing practices employed. Later harvests of Sencha have more astringent qualities, a more robust flavor and generally less aroma.
The earliest season Shincha (first month's sencha harvest) is available in April in the south of Japan, and prized for its high vitamin content, sweetness and superior flavor.
Gunpower Green Tea
Chinese gunpowder tea is a green tea from the Zhejiang Province in China. It takes its English name from the fact that each grey-green leaf is tightly rolled into a tiny pellet, "exploding" into a long leaf upon being steeped in hot water.
Gunpowder tea production dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618–907) but it was first introduced to Taiwan in the 1800s. Although the individual leaves were formerly rolled by hand, today most gunpowder tea is rolled by machines (though the highest grades are still rolled by hand). When buying gunpowder tea it is important to look for shiny pellets, which indicate that the tea is relatively fresh.
Gunpowder tea is exported to the Maghreb where it is used in the preparation of traditional North African mint tea. The Moroccan tea ritual is at the heart of any social gathering, from an informal visit to a neighbour to lavish soirees with dignitaries. A minimum of two cups need to be drunk as not to offend the host.
Gunpowder tea production dates back to the Tang Dynasty (AD 618 – 907) but it was first introduced to Taiwan in the 1800s.
When buying Gunpowder it is important to look for shiny pellets, which indicate that the tea is relatively fresh.
Jasmines are widely cultivated for their flowers, enjoyed in the garden, as house plants, and as cut flowers. The flowers are worn by women in their hair in southern and southeast Asia. Some claim that the daily consumption of Jasmine tea is effective in preventing certain cancers. Many species also yield an essential oil which is used in the production of perfumes and incense.
Jasminum sambac flowers are also used to make tea, which typically has a green tea or Oolong base. The delicate Jasmine flower opens only at night and is plucked in the morning when the tiny petals are tightly closed. They are then stored in a cool place until night. Between six and eight in the evening, as the temperature cools, the petals begin to open. Flowers and tea are "mated" in machines that control temperature and humidity. It takes four hours or so for the tea to absorb the fragrance and flavour of the Jasmine blossoms, and for the highest grades, this process may be repeated as many as seven times. Because the tea has absorbed moisture from the flowers, it must be refired to prevent spoilage. The spent flowers may or may not be removed from the final product, as the flowers are completely dry and contain no aroma. They simply add visual appeal and are no indication of the quality of the tea.
Kukicha Twig Tea
Kukicha, or twig tea, is a Japanese blend of green tea made of stems, stalks, and twigs.
Kukicha has a nutty, slightly creamy flavour. It is made of four sorts of stems, stalks and twigs of Camellia sinensi. For best results, kukicha is steeped in water between 70 to 80 C (155 - 180 degrees Fahrenheit) during three minutes (otherwise, like all green teas, the result will be a bitter, unsavoury brew).
Uniquely flavourful, kukicha is also one of the preferred teas of the macrobiotic diet. Kukicha can also be added to juice to make an excellent children's drink. Kukicha is a powerful anti-oxidant and is very low in caffeine, in fact the lowest in caffeine of all traditional teas.
White Peony Tea
White tea from the Fujian province of China. White Peony, known locally as Pai Mu Tan, is a delicate tea made from tea buds collected and withered prior to opening. The latest medical findings suggest that white tea may be a more effective cancer fighter than even green tea. These findings have brought white teas to a much wider audience.
Modern-day white teas can be traced to the 18th Century Qing Dynasty, a time when they were harvested from ordinary tea bushes. White teas differed from green teas in that their processing did not incorporate any steaming or pan-firing. The teas were simply shaped, and allowed to wither. The resulting leaves were thin, small and did not have much silvery-white hair. It wasn't until 1885 that specific varietals of tea bushes were selected to make white teas. The large, silvery-white leaves of the Silver Needle came into being in 1891. And the production of White Peony began around 1922.
White Silver Needle Tea
White Silver Needle Tea is chiefly produced in Fujian Province in China with only limited or negligible production outside and more commonly just known as Yinzhen. Amongst white teas this is the most expensive variety and the most prized as only top buds are used to produce the tea. Most Yinzhen is made from the Da Bai or Large White tea tree race, however there are exceptions such as the big bud teas from Yunnan.
The very best Yinzhen are picked between March 15 and April 10 when it is not raining and only using undamaged and unopened buds, however lower graded Yinzhen may not be strict on all of these attributes. Yinzhen tea is considered to be good for health, as it is extremely low in caffeine. According to the researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, white tea may be used to fight cancer as well as acting as a deterrent.
The tea is nowadays mostly grown in the Fujian Province and there are generally two major producing counties, Zheng He and Fuding.
Tasting and Brewing
This tea is best prepared with below boiling water (at about 75 degrees Celsius) and produces a slightly viscous glittering pale yellow color with evidence of floating white hairs that reflect light. The flavor and fragrance should be delicate, light, fresh, and slightly sweet. Steeping should be for slightly longer than other white teas, up to 5 minutes, and the amount of tea to be used is usually higher. There are few parallels to be drawn as the taste is not similar to any other teas but Bai Mu Dan.
Yerba Mate Tea
Yerba mate is a species of holly native to subtropical South America in northern Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil and Bolivia. Yerba Mate has a characteristic mature flavor which is somewhat sweet, bitter, withered leaf like, and alfalfa-like. This is also called the fat burning tea. It comes from South America and has been consumed there for eons.
The yerba mate plant is a shrub or small tree growing up to 15 meters tall. The leaves are evergreen, 7–11 cm long and 3–5.5 cm wide, with a serrated margin. The flowers are small, greenish-white, with four petals. The fruit is a red berry 4–6 mm diameter.
The plant is grown mainly in South America, more specifically in Paraguay, Northern Argentina (Corrientes, Misiones), Uruguay and southern Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná). The Guaraní are reputed to be the first people who cultivated the plant; the first Europeans to do this were Jesuit missionaries, who spread the drinking habit as far as Ecuador.
When the yerba is harvested, the branches are dried sometimes with a wood fire, imparting a smoky flavour. Then the leaves and sometimes the twigs are broken up.
Researchers at Florida International University in Miami have found that yerba mate does contain caffeine, but some people seem to tolerate a mate drink better than coffee or tea. This is expected since mate contains different chemicals (other than caffeine) than tea or coffee.
From reports of personal experience with mate, its physiological effects are similar to (yet distinct from) more widespread caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, or guarana drinks. Users report a mental state of wakefulness, focus and alertness reminiscent of most stimulants, but often remark on mate's unique lack of the negative effects typically created by other such compounds, such as anxiety, diarrhea, "jitteriness", and heart palpitations.
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