Looking for the tastiest green teas, but not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered with this list of the best tasting green tea varieties. From roasted and nutty to floral and vegetal, there’s something on this list for everyone.
Green tea is a true tea made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis tea plant. There are two main subcategories of green tea: Chinese green teas and Japanese green teas. Chinese green teas are more robust in flavor and feature earthy notes and a slightly toasted note. That's because the tea leaves are dried using a pan-firing method or by roasting the leaves over fires.
Japanese green teas tend to be more mild and vegetal because the leaves are dried through a steaming process. These types of green tea have mildly floral and umami flavors with hints of seaweed, grass, and herbaceous notes.
Both types of green tea have an airy and light body that brews into a pale yellow or light green color. While green tea has a layered flavor profile, it's also famous for being bitter. That's because tea ingredients like catechins, polyphenols, and tannins, can react with chemicals and at high temperatures to produce bitter notes. Fortunately, those astringent flavors can easily be avoided by brewing the tea properly.
For the best tasting green tea, brew Chinese varieties with hot water between 170 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit and brew more delicate Japanese green teas with water between 160 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the tea leaves steep for 1 to 3 minutes and then promptly remove to avoid bitter notes. Make sure to use loose leaf tea rather than tea bags for the best flavors.
Now that you know the basics of green tea and how to brew it properly, check out the best tasting green tea flavors right here.
Sencha is the most popular Japanese tea. In Japan, the tea is served in restaurants and is one of the first green teas introduced to new tea drinkers. This tea also accounts for close to 80 percent of Japan's green tea production. Sencha is harvested between late April and early May using only young new leaves. The tea boasts a blend of green and golden hues and offers a mellow, light flavor.
The tea is vegetal, grassy, and often described as having seaweed-like notes. There are several different types of sencha, characterized by the amount of time they are steamed during the drying process. Fukamushi is steamed the longest — between one and two minutes — and has a rich seaweed flavor while asamushi is more lightly steamed and has floral hints.
Matcha tea is one of the most famous green teas. It is different from other green teas in that it is a tea powder rather than a full leaf tea. The green tea leaves are gently crushed into a vivid green powder using stone pestles and mortars. The tea is known for its extensive health benefits thanks to a high concentration of nutrients in the tea leaves.
Matcha tea boasts a creamy texture that you can't find in other green teas. It has a fuller body and strong vegetal notes. The tea can be enjoyed as-is or with the addition of a splash of milk. To get the most out of this cup of tea, do not add any sweeteners.
Genmaicha green tea is a Japanese creation that blends green tea leaves with roasted brown rice. The result is a wildly savory green tea with nutty and mild coffee notes. The popped rice kernels also have the added benefit of balancing out any bitter notes if you steep the tea too long. The grains also create a fuller body and mildly creamy texture that makes this green tea feel indulgent.
Jasmine green tea is a flavored tea that blends green tea leaves with delicate jasmine flowers. The addition of the flower petals adds a sweet aroma to the tea and the floral bouquet adds a visual pleasing dimension to brewing the tea. You can find these teas scented with jasmine oils or real jasmine flowers. For the prettiest green tea, look for Jasmine Pearl Green Tea — the leaves and flower petals are delicately rolled into balls that unfurl when brewing.
Most jasmine green teas come from the Fujian Province in China and boast sweet, floral notes. These notes contrast nicely with the vegetal and herbaceous flavors of the green tea leaves. Since these are generally Chinese green teas, they have stronger earthy notes and less umami flavor.
Gyokuro is a Japanese green tea that is also known as jewel dew tea or precious dew tea and is technically considered a sencha tea by many experts. The green tea leaves are shaded for three weeks prior to harvest to boost the nutrition content of the tea leaves. The tea offers a sweet flavor and brews into a light green hue. This tea should be brewed using one and a half times the normal amount of tea per serving. It should be steeped in water no higher than 140 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid bitter flavors. For the best results, warm your teacup with hot water before steeping the tea to maintain a pleasant drinking temperature.
Gunpowder Green Tea is a Chinese tea named for its appearance. The green tea leaves are tightly rolled into balls that give off a gunpowder-like appearance. The benefit of this packaging method is that these teas can be stored longer than other green tea types. The dense pellets also bloom like flowers when they are steeped in water and can be re-steeped several times. The flavor is robust with earthy notes and roasted flavor.
Also known as Dragon Well tea, this green tea is a popular Chinese variety boasting roasted flavors. There are six different grades of Longjing green tea, which are rated using a number system with one being the highest quality. Superior quality Longjing teas have high concentrations of amino acids that lend great flavor as well as chlorophyll which gives the tea a beautiful green hue. The flavor of Longjing is sweet and rounded and can be described as mild or mellow. Depending on the quality of the Longjing tea, you will find vegetal flavors as well as roasted nut and buttery hints.
For the best tasting green tea, quality is key. Avoid tea bags that contain the dust and fannings of tea that have lackluster flavor. Instead, use whole loose green tea leaves for the best flavor and health benefits. If you absolutely insist on using tea bags, look for tea sachets that have larger leaves and more space to infuse flavor.
Only use high-quality green teas that are free from pesticides and fillers that can alter the flavor. You can opt for USDA organic tea from your favorite green tea brands — like Cup & Leaf, Numi, Harney & Sons, or Tazo — or choose a locally-sourced option depending on where you live. If you choose organic green tea, make sure to look for the USDA certification rather than words like "natural" to ensure the product is truly produced using organic methods.
On the subject of quality, it's also important to use pure water when brewing. Avoid brewing your green tea with tap water. Tap water contains chemicals and preservatives like chlorine that can affect the flavor of the tea. Instead, use pure or filtered water for the best flavor. Remember to pay attention to the water temperature and steeping time for the best results.
There are a million reasons to drink green tea. It's one of the healthiest beverages on the planet and science shows the benefits of green tea may help with everything from weight loss to increased brain function. In fact, green tea is a great choice for people who are trying to limit their caffeine intake. Green tea contains a mild amount of caffeine as well as an amino acid known as l-theanine. This amino acid slows the absorption of caffeine, resulting in a longer-lasting energy boost without the jitters or crash.
The best green tea taste depends entirely on your preferences and taste buds. Try a few of these different types of green tea to discover the best tasting flavors for your taste buds. If you tend to like stronger notes — like those in black tea — try a green tea from China. If you prefer notes of flowers and more vegetal flavors — like those in white tea or herbal tea—opt for a Japanese green tea like sencha or matcha instead. Either way, you'll love settling into a comfy afternoon with a tasty cup of green tea.
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