Asking someone if they like green tea is not really a simple question. There’s no straightforward answer. The world of green tea is so complicated that it can’t be represented with just one word. Learn more about types of green tea.
How many different green tea types are there?
There are hundreds of thousands of different green teas in the world. Some may be very popular and others may be so rare that not many people will ever hear about them. Thankfully, tea is more available than ever, making it possible to try many amazing flavors from even the most unique locations. While it’s not easy to categorise all green tea, we can still divide it by different factors:
Country of origin
Green teas can be divided by the county of origin. Chinese green teas will have a different flavor profile than Japanese green teas, or Indian green teas. This will make it easier to know which tea you may like even if you haven’t tried it before.
The most important process that makes green tea green is “kill green” step. Kill green is used to stop the oxidation and preserve nutrients, flavor and color. There are several ways to stop the oxidation, with steaming and pan-firing being the most popular. Furthermore, tea can be processed into different leaf shapes or sizes. Unbroken tea leaves will usually be less bitter than tea dust and fannings in tea bags.
Tea can grow under different conditions. Some teas may be high grown, other will come from lower altitudes. Some teas are shaded, others are grown on the sun.
Tea varietals and cultivars, etc
Both varietals and cultivars play an important part in the final flavor profile and potential benefits. For example, Assamica plant is likely to have more caffeine than sinensis plant. Next, some cultivars will have a more intense green color than the others, some may be more pest resistant, and others may have more sweetness.
Tea can be harvested several times per year. The best green teas are harvested in early spring and summer, but sometimes autumn or even winter harvests are available too. The freshest green tea will always be harvested in spring, with some exceptions, for example tea leaves for the best matcha tea are usually harvested a bit later.
Today, green tea is produced in many tea producing countries, but still not as often as black tea. The only country that’s making more green than black tea is Japan.
Green Tea Varieties
Green tea is made from Camellia sinensis plant. There are different varieties of Camellia sinensis plant, but Camellia sinensis var Assamica and Camellia sinensis var sinensis are most commonly used for making green tea. Those varieties can furthermore be divided into thousands of cultivars. Each cultivar will have special characteristics, and some may be very distinguishable. One cultivar can be used for making different types of tea, both green and black. Also, one tea type can be made from different cultivars. For example, a popular Chinese Biluochun tea can be made from different tea plants. The one grown in Yunnan province will usually be made from a different cultivar than the one made in Jiangsu.
Although it’s impossible to list all types of green tea, it’s possible to mention the most popular types. The most popular green teas still come from China and Japan, and they are the easiest to categorize. Other green tea, for example, from India or Sri Lanka, will usually have the name of the tea plantation rather than the name of the type. That means there will me as many types as there are tea plantations that are making green tea.
Japanese Green tea
Japanese sencha is one of the most popular teas in the world. Over 50% of all tea produced in Japan is sencha. Sencha can come from different prefectures and can be grown from different cultivars. Some of the most popular growing areas are Shizuoka, Kagoshima and Miyazaki. Sencha is steamed tea and has a unique needle-shaped leaves with intense deep color. Steaming can be light or deep, which will influence flavor, color and shape of sencha tea. For example, deeply steamed tea will have small broken dark green leaves and it will brew into a full bodied cup with an intense green color.
Read more: Japanese sencha tea
Genmaicha is another very popular Japanese tea. It’s usually made from sencha and bancha. Genmaicha is blended with toasted white or brown rice and has a unique nutty and light flavor. It’s very easy to brew and usually not bitter.
Read more: Genmaicha Tea Guide
Gyokuro is considered a gem among Japanese green teas. It has a very strong flavor with a highly pronounced umami note. This shaded tea is also one of the most expensive green teas in the world.
Matcha is a shaded Japanese green tea ground into a fine powder. It’s prepared using special tea utensils and has an intense color and flavor. Traditional ceremonial grade matcha is hand-harvested and usually quite expensive.
Read more: Matcha tea guide
Bancha is green tea made from older, more mature leaves. It has a lower caffeine content and a less grassy flavor than sencha. Bancha is available in different styles, from roasted Kyobancha to fresher Yanagi bancha.
Chinese Green tea
6. Dragon well
Dragon Well or Long Jing is one of the most popular Chinese green teas. It has a flat shaped leaf and brews into a delicate tea with light nutty notes. Dragon Well is a pan-fired tea.
Read more: Best Dragon Well teas
7. Tai Ping Kou Hui
This truly unique tea from Anhui province looks like a bigger brother of Dragon Well tea. It has a very long flat leaves that are best brewed in a glass.
Gunpowder is probably the most popular Chinese teas world-wide. Leaves are dark green and shaped into small pellets. Gunpowder has a stronger flavor that can sometimes be bitter. It’s the best tea for making milky green teas or brewing with fresh and fruity ingredients.
Read more: Gunpowder tea guide
9. Mao Feng
Mao feng is another very popular Chinese green tea with a stronger, fresher flavor than Dragon Well. It’s made from new tea buds and leaves, covered in white hairs.
Read more: Mao Feng green tea guide
Another highly popular and important Chinese tea is Biluochun. It originates from Jiangsu province, but today it’s produced in other provinces too, including Yunnan. Biluochun has a stronger but fresh flavor with light floral notes.
Best Flavor/Scented Green Teas
Green tea is often scented or flavored. The most popular scented green tea is Jasmine green tea. Jasmine tea is made by mixing tea leaves with fresh jasmine flowers and allowing them to soak up natural jasmine essence. It’s usually slightly stronger and bolder than most green teas.
Young Hyson and Chinese sencha tea are often flavored too. They have a perfect strength and flavor to match different ingredients, from flowers to dried fruits. One of the most popular green tea blends is Moroccan Mint tea, made with mint leaves and gunpowder green tea.