What is Green Tea?
Named for its green color when brewed, green tea is made from non-oxidized camellia sinensis leaves and has a fresh, vegetal flavor profile. While green teas may be produced in many areas of the world, China and Japan are the two most famous producers of green teas. Chinese green teas have a characteristic nutty taste due to the panning process used to halt natural oxidation after the leaves are plucked. Japanese green teas, in contrast, are steamed to stop oxidation and therefore often taste more of saline and fresh spring greens.
How to Brew Green Tea
Everyone's palate is slightly different, so we recommend experimenting with your green teas to determine the brewing method that you like best. That said, we are going to share some general brewing best practices for making green tea and discuss how you can tweak them to better suit your individual palate!
Variables you can play with when brewing tea:
- Amount of tea
- Water (temperature and amount)
As a general rule of thumb, a high ratio of water to tea means a longer steep time, while a lower ratio of water to tea means a shorter steep time. Within these very generalized guidelines you will find your perfect cup of tea. There is no right or wrong way to brew tea, as long as you're enjoying the results!
Western-Style Brewing (8 or more ounces)
Most of us in the US brew our tea with a relatively high water to tea ratio, meaning much more water than tea leaves and a longer steep time.
For most green teas, you will brew your tea at 165° F to 175° F for 2 minutes in the Western-style.
To brew green tea in a Western teapot, you will need:
- Teapot with infuser basket or an infuser basket and your favorite mug
- Spoon or teaspoon and a kitchen scale
- 5 grams Green Tea per 16 ounces of water (you may also use a teaspoon to measure your tea)*
- Hot, filtered or spring water (165° - 175° F)
Steps for Brewing Loose Leaf Green Tea (16 ounces)
- Choose your brewing vessel (either a teapot with an infuser basket or your favorite mug and an infuser basket).
- Measure 5 grams of your green tea of choice into your infuser basket (see: * for alternate units of measure).
- Fill your pot or mug with 165° - 175° F hot water and start your timer. (We recommend 165° F water for most Japanese green teas and 175° F water for most Chinese green teas.)
- Steep for 2 minutes.
- Remove your leaves or pour off all your tea into a cup or pitcher so the leaves do not oversteep.
- Share and enjoy!
- Re-steep your leaves 2-3 times at increasing time intervals with the same temperature water.
*Using teaspoons instead of grams to measure your tea: Volume is an imperfect measure for tea because not all tea leaves are shaped the same. For this reason, we use weight at our Tea Bar to maintain consistency from cup to cup. To illustrate, Sencha Sumire is composed of very small, very fine leaves while our Long Jing Zehjiang has larger, flatter, and wider leaves. This means that much more of the smaller, denser Sencha will fit in one teaspoon than Long Jing. If you are using a teaspoon to measure your tea, always keep the density of the tea leaves in mind and adjust accordingly! As a general rule, though, a regular 8 ounce mug will use about one perfect teaspoon of tea!
Traditional Brewing (Kyusu Japanese Teapot)
The side-handled Kyusu teapot is the traditional brewing vessel for Japanese green teas. As functional as it is beautiful, we love preparing and sharing tea in kyusu pots!
You may also use a Chinese Gaiwan or Yixing pot to brew your tea. You will follow the same steps!
To brew green tea with traditional teaware, you will need:
- Kyusu (Japanese Green Teas), Gaiwan or Yixing Pot (Chinese Green Teas)
- 165° to 175° filtered or spring water
- Green tea of your choice
- Small pitcher
- Small cups
Steps for Brewing Green Tea in Traditional Teaware
- Heat your filtered or spring water to 165° F.
- Warm your kyusu, gaiwan, or yixing teapot with the water. Use this warming water to warm your pitcher and cups.
- Discard the warming water.
- Add approximately 5 grams of tea to a 200ml kyusu or fill your gaiwan or yixing pot about 1/3 full.
- Cover your leaves with the 165° F water and start your timer (do not replace the lid).
- Steep for 30-45 seconds.
- Pour all of the tea off into the serving pitcher, making sure to get all the liquid off so the leaves do not continue steeping.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Re-steep 5-6 times at decreasing time intervals and the same water temperature.
How to Brew Jasmine Green Tea (& Other Scented Green Teas)
Most scented green teas will be brewed just like their traditional counterparts. Jasmine green tea, for example, will be brewed for 2 minutes at 175° F. Green teas scented with fruits may benefit from slightly hotter water, and we generally steep them at 185° F for 2-3 minutes, depending on the tea and your tastes.
How to Brew Roasted Green Teas (Hojicha)
Hojicha is a type of roasted green tea from Japan that is popular both for its flavor and lower caffeine content. Because it is roasted, Hojicha is less sensitive to water temperature and time, and should be brewed at 195° F for 2-4 minutes depending on the type of Hojicha and your tastes.
Is Boiling Water OK for Green Tea?
In all honesty, no, you should not use boiling water to make green tea. We've said a lot here about how tea is never wrong as long as it tastes good to you, but using lower temperature water for green teas is the hill we just might die on.
Have you ever sipped your cup of green tea and wondered why it's so bitter even though you didn't steep it very long? It's probably because the water you used was too hot. Green teas (especially Japanese green teas) are very sensitive to water temperature. In essence, using boiling water on green tea leaves "burns" the leaves, extracting all of the tannin and leaving you with a bitter cup with little aroma or nuance.
If you don't have a variable temperature kettle, not to worry! You can use a candy or meat thermometer and add cool water until your water gets to the correct temperature. Alternately, you can keep an eye on the water as it heats and pull it off just before the tiny bubbles start to leave the bottom of the pot. (This water will be about 170° F.)
Am I Using The Right Amount of Tea?
How much tea you need is very dependent on the amount of water you're using and the length of your steep. If you're using a teaspoon or other volume measure, keep an eye on leaf volume versus weight, then make sure to adjust how much tea you are using based on the leaf size and shape. For this one, we will revert back to: if it tastes right, it's right!
How Much Caffeine Does Green Tea Have?
Green tea generally has between 27 and 50 mg of caffeine per cup (about half the amount found in a cup of coffee). But because of the way the caffeine molecule in green tea binds with its polyphenols, you will likely experience the caffeine in green tea as more stable and sustained - like a time-release capsule!