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For a long time, green tea was unique to China and Japan. Today, green teas have spread across the world. Names such as Sencha, Longjing, Gyokuro, and Matcha are now as familiar to Westerners as are Ceylon, Darjeeling, and Earl Grey. Even Matcha, popular in China for over a thousand years and part of the Japanese tea ceremony, have become a mainstay at trendy Western cafés and restaurants as a delicacy and a healthy beverage. Its taste and freshness make green tea an incredibly multifaceted beverage.

Average green teas can be rather bland. High quality green teas, however, offer an aromatic experience in the same way a fine wine, chocolate or any gourmet food does. There is also a wide variety in the character of green teas – from a roasted, robust Japanese Hojicha and an earthy, rich Bi Luo Chun, to an elegant, fruity Gyokuru with primeur aromas. The category is surprisingly broad, including such varied products as pressed cookies from steamed pu er tea, artful green decoration teas, and the powdered Japanese Matcha tea.

What separates green teas from other types is that they have not oxidised (reacted with oxygen). Therefore, much of the tea’s natural flavours remain. Everything that the small tea leaves have experienced plays a role in the development of its character. The soil in which they have grown and gathered nutrients from, the water they absorbed, the altitude, winds, sunshine, and full terroir. The smells and tastes clearly give it away. The teas have not changed much during their processing or lost many of the nutritious substances and antioxidants that are found in the tea plant itself.

As we can today find many kinds of green teas in any good tea shop, it is also easy to find one that goes well with most types of food. Green teas are a good complement to most light dishes but can also compete with stronger flavours. A Longjing, for instance, mixes well with a spicy Chinese dish with Sichuan pepper. There is also no need to assume that green teas only go together with Asian food. A fine Japanese tea can elevate the taste of fish in sushi, but also equally well replace the Champagne complementing a poached sole. Many desserts can be taken to new heights with green teas as well, such as a panna cotta or cream-layer cake with Sencha tea.

Most commonly, green tea refers to teas that have not oxidised and that have usually been heated through steaming or roasting. To keep things simple, all teas that have not oxidised can be considered part of the category, which includes white and yellow teas as well.