6 Best Green Tea, All Crafted Slowly by Hand
Green tea, the oldest form of tea, is the work of the gods. It is not only a health boosting beverage, but is also valued as an intellectual companion. Read the article, you will find our curated tasting box of 6 best green tea handcrafted by artisans using traditional techniques.
Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea is not heavily processed. Freshly picked leaves are immediately treated with high heat to preserve them in their freshest state. This process of “killing the green,” fixes the leaves while they are in a state closest to nature. Therefore, green tea preserves nutrients lost in other processing methods. Polyphenols, catechins, vitamins, chlorophyl, caffeine, and more are all locked into green tea in higher percentages than in other teas.
Rich in antioxidants, green tea has far-reaching benefits to detoxify the body, promote cellular health, and even help prevent some forms of illness. Moreover, the polyphenols in green tea slow the absorption of caffeine into the body and give the drinker a calm-but-awake feeling without the jittery effects that coffee often has.
If you don’t drink green tea, you may want to consider giving this refreshing beverage another try for its noteworthy benefits and for the enjoyment it can bring. When it comes to tea, it’s important to choose best green tea, which makes all the difference between experiencing the complexity of the tea versus merely quenching thirst.
Before we talk about our favourite best green tea varieties, let’s first learn about how to choose the best quality green teas.
How to Measure Quality of Green Tea
There are veteran tea tasters who, after many years, can identify the tea’s origin as well as the processing method and discern its quality immediately. However, there is also a simple way for the average enthusiast to identify the best green tea. Just open your senses.
Sight: What shape is the leaf? What color is the brew?
Smell: What do the dry leaves and wet leaves smell like?
High-quality green tea leaves should not look crumbly. An unbroken tea leaf is a good indicator of the quality, as broken leaves are a sign of machine-harvested tea.
Note: Black tea is different. Its leaves are purposefully cut for a stronger taste. Oolong tea is also different. Oolongs are deliberately ‘bruised’ to encourage the oils in the leaf to bleed to the surface.
Wet Leaf aroma
Higher quality green teas have aromas that evoke the freshness of young buds. The aroma should be distinct. If you inhale deeply and get only traces of scent, you might have low quality or stale green tea.
This is the true benchmark for any tea. Sip slowly, allowing the tea to roll over different parts of your tongue. Notice the different flavours. How does your mouth feel? The best green teas are smooth, bright, and refreshing.
Note: If the tea tastes bland, has a one-dimensional flavor profile, any chemical tastes, or an astringent quality that dries out the mouth too much, it may be a low-quality tea or stale.
Our Six Favorite Best Green Teas
Thought to be lost for over 800 years, this rare tea was rediscovered in the 1980s. It has a short harvesting period, so good anjibaicha can only be produced in limited quantities.
The first flush buds of early spring are so pure that they appear white in color. The name anjibaicha, translates as “White Tea from Anji,” but it’s actually green tea. That’s because the process for fixing the tea is what defines a tea as “green,” not the color of the leaf on the tree.
The best Anjibaicha is handpicked to maintain the leaves’ delicacy. Fresh picked leaves are immediately hand-rolled by expert artisans to give them a peculiar needle-shape.
Each leaf of Anjibaicha contains 6.5% of amino-acids, about four times more than other green teas. Amino acids are used by proteins for building organic structures and are essential for physical wellbeing. These amino acids in the tea provide benefits to us as we drink it.
Tasting note: Anjibaicha has a complex umami flavour with a floral aroma. It tastes mild, clean, and smooth on the palate. It delivers a subtle citrus taste with underlying floral notes.
Enshi Yulu, or “Dewdrops of Enshi,” is one of the most delicate best green teas. The name evokes an image of morning dew after the first spring rain. The shape of the leaves is that of pine needles covered with fine silvery fur.
The peculiar delicacy of Yulu leaves is also an indicator of their processing. They are fixed with steam to kill enzymes and stop oxidation. It takes a master to control the steam process in such a way as to produce the smooth needle shape that lends a particular elasticity to the leaves. Skilled manual processing is able to layer in a gentle note of courgette (zucchini) that lingers on the palate.
Tasting note: The aroma is fresh, a robust fragrance with balsamic notes of musk, mint, and fern. In the first few brews of a pot, the flavour is subtle but pronounced, delicate but strong. Later steeps offer a mellow and clean sweetness that lingers on the palate and throat. Expect a silky mouthfeel with refreshing umami notes.
Houkui boasts the largest leaves in the green tea world, with a leaf length of over 70mm. Processing Houkui is tedious. Every leaf must be individually hand pressed. It is grassier and significantly more floral than the usual green tea. Quality Houkui is always darker than machine-flattened Houkui, which is light green and harvested using empty buds.
It’s enjoyable to watch the long leaves of Houkui dance in the hot water as they awaken during the first steep. The leaves warm up and soften before settling back to the bottom of the infuser.
Tasting note: This tea has a touch of sweet grass, lily-of-the valley floral notes, and a hint of apricot. The delicate floral and apricot notes linger nicely on the palate.
Brewing Tool: It’s recommended to use glass or gaiwan to brew the Houkui, which can enhance your visual experience with this special shaped tea
Lu’an Guapian is a green tea that dates to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Historically it was a favourite of scholars and the imperial family.
The shade-wilted leaves are manually-wok-roasted to kill the green, before being basket baked in a step called “pulling the big fire.” In the same way a master chef commands the infusion of different spices and works the oven, the best green tea artisan must master the roasting and baking processes to control moisture and residual enzymes in the leaves, which determine taste and shelf life.
Guapian’s unique “pulling the big fire” step creates a pleasant toasty taste that compliments its umami flavour and sweet nutty undertones.
This varietal also has a liquor that shines emerald and gets stronger and more intense with each steep.
Tasting note: Smooth and clean with a sweet nutty bouquet. The first brews release a roasted chestnut aroma that is warm and long-lasting. The aftertaste is apparent, which is rare in green teas.
Maofeng, curled leaves
Traditional green tea usually involves a shape-making step, but Maofeng is “freestyle.” The leaves naturally curl up during fixation, giving the Maofeng its distinct fluffiness.
Tasting note: The curled leaves release fragrance slowly, making each brew unique. The same leaves can produce steeps with fresh notes of mint and mellow hints of butter. It leaves a refreshing and complex aftertaste that sweetens after each sip.
Regarded as the “King of Tea” in China, Longjing is the most popular best green tea, but it is also the easiest to imitate. Genuine Longjing tastes warm, fresh, and complex. It has floral notes as well as hazelnut.
Tasting note: The golden hued green liquor discloses a creamy, mellow taste that is rare and precious. Sweet notes of pear open up on the palate, accompanied by a natural hazelnut flavor and floral notes of vanilla orchid. The mouth is left with the fresh umami taste that characterizes this ancient tea.
Gongfu Brewing Method
At Magnifissance, we have a strong preference for small tea pots (also called gongfu tea pots). The small size yields a more concentrated and tasty tea, producing much more pronounced flavours with each different infusion. This allows the tea to open to its full potential gradually. Between each steep, we can enjoy the aroma, taste, mouthfeel, and aftertaste. You cannot have the same experience with the same tea leaves if the tea is fully brewed in a single step with a large teapot. These teapots typically hold 120ml to 200ml of water (1-4 small servings).
Water Temperate: 75°C ~85°C
Leaf to water ratio: 2-3g per 100ml teapot/gaiwan
Brewing time: about 30 seconds for the 1st to 3rd steep, then increase the steep time for each subsequent brew
Tips: keep the lid open between each brew to allow the hot wet leaves to cool down.
Recommended Water: natural mineral water
No. of infusions: 5~7
Tips to Improve the taste of Green Tea
It’s hard to pin down nuances of flavor and aroma with words. A person must experience tea. One effective technique to learn about quality is to try popular mass-produced green teas sold on Amazon or in grocery stores. Then try a selection of best green tea. The difference is immediately clear.
How to store green tea?
Quality green tea is tender and needs to be kept fresh. Avoid light, heat, moisture, odor, and air.
Low temperatures slow oxidation. Green teas store best at 0-5 degrees Celsius. If you live in a hot and humid place, your green tea might do best in a freezer or refrigerator.
Avoid storing your tea in anything clear unless you plan to keep it in a dark cabinet.
Moisture shortens shelf life and weakens the taste. Keep dry tea away from the steam of boiling water. Avoid other humid areas like dishwasher vents. If storing in a refrigerator, make sure it is sealed tightly as the air inside tends to have more humidity.
Odor is something tea easily absorbs. Avoid storing your tea near a spice cabinet, trashcan, or other sources of strong odors.
- Air exposure
Every exposure to air is another chance for tea leaves to absorb moisture and odor. Avoid leaving tea out and try to seal it with as little residual air as possible.
Start your fine green tea experience with a Magnifissance green tea taste box. Each box is curated by Eastern Leaves, purveyors of some of the best teas in the world. Enjoy your taste journey with this special collection slowly crafted by the hands of masters.