So Why Fancy a Green Tea?
Like a misunderstood fellow student in class, one often ignores the existence of the class of green tea. There are varied reasons for it. Our forefathers were mostly immigrants from Fujian and Guangdong, both of which make and drink a lot of wulong and red teas (the other being Taiwan), thereby importing the same drinking culture to Singapore. Green teas were not a regular drink since those days even till today. In fact, green teas were as alien to our forefathers as we are today.
What about Japanese sencha? Although sencha is historically a cultural relic of Tang dynasty imported into Japan 1,300 years ago, our association with Japanese teas is primarily because we used to be a Japanese colony. The ubiquitous matcha in cafes today is driven by business demands and the latte art trend, more than because it was born out of our history. What then is the familiar jasmine green tea? While pure green tea is not a regular drink of our forefathers, jasmine green tea could be a drink of choice because Fuzhou in southern Fujian is a main production region. Even so, 70% of Chinese tea production is pure green teas and a serious tea learner would be intrigued by this.
Even so, the green tea is always a challenge. It is difficult to brew, it is astringent, it is light and it has low brewing stamina. It usually does not have high fragrance like the wulong tea or can withstand the adulteration of milk and sugar like red tea (although very fine red tea are too delicate for that too). It is not as "natural" and healthy sounding like the white tea. So why fancy a green tea?
The green tea is usually the first harvest of the year. The cold and sunless climate during winter slows down the tea's growing and puts it into deep slumber. When the first warmth of the spring sun shines on the cold tea trees, new lives explode in the form of the new shoots and buds. This regeneration of life is the cumulation of energy and slow growth during the long winter season. When the farmer wakes up one day in mid spring, opens his window and looks out to find a coat of tender green peppering what used to be a monotone of dark green of the cold tea trees, he calls it the first flush of spring. The flush – the changing of colour with the new growth – is a representation of a new beginning, bringing with it new hope and new life.
When we drink green tea, we drink its freshness. Therefore, the delicate tea variety of sinensis is used. It then becomes counter-intuitive to have an aged green tea made from sinensis because it defeats its original purpose. A green tea should look small and green. When brewed in water, it springs alive and puff up like freshly plucked leaves. When the sun is still too soft to allow the tea trees to produce enough chlorophyll, the earliest and youngest pickings would be yellowish in colour. On this note, the earliest picking for West Lake Long Jing is small and yellow. The large and green teas sold at tourist shops are the overgrown.
A tea student probably learn green tea processing ahead of other classes of tea. This is because it involves all the basic steps and all other teas are variations of these basic steps. In fact, yellow tea and black tea are closely following the green tea process. You will be surprised to find out that a raw (unfermented) black tea is in fact a green tea made from the assamica variety which has bigger leaves and bolder flavours.
There are 4 methods of processing green tea. Although technically complex, they are essentially differentiated by whether the leaves are steamed, panfried, oven dried or sun dried. Sun drying is slow because of its very low temperature, thereby producing teas retaining its enzymatic flavours of fruits and flowers. Steaming highlights the tea plant’s original flavour of greenness, bringing out oceanic notes on top of the usual enzymatic notes. Oven drying is for the strongest tea types, when aromas are still retained after continuous hot air convention. Sometimes, aromas are muted from strong convection drying and the teas are used for blending with flowers and fruits. Pan frying brings out the sugar browning notes from intense Maillard reaction, creating soy bean, chestnuts and nutty flavours progressively as the heat intensifies.
The green tea has a full spectrum of aroma from seaweeds to nuts. Beside the alluring aroma, it is neither sour nor bitter if processed and brewed well. Being rich in catechins, it showcases tea’s defining medical properties of lowering blood sugar, improving blood circulation, protecting the liver and slimming. The same catechins is astringent, allowing palate cleansing when pairing with food.
Parchmen & Co is one of the few tea companies in Singapore which focuses a lot on green teas. Look nowhere else if you wish to learn and enjoy green tea. Rediscover green tea now with Parchmen & Co!
就像班上被误解的同学一样，人们常常忽略了绿茶的存在。这里有多种原因。我们的祖先大多是来自福建和广东，那里制作和饮用大量的乌龙茶和红茶（另一个是台湾）。这饮茶文化也随着飘洋过海来到新加坡。绿茶对我们的祖先而言就像我们今天一样感觉陌生。即使一个经常喝茶和泡茶的人，绿茶总还是一个挑战 – 它难以冲泡、有涩味、味道轻淡且不耐泡。它缺乏乌龙茶那样的高香气，或者像红茶那样经得起牛奶和糖的掺拌（虽然好的红茶也不浑浊其他调料）。它不像白茶那样“自然”和健康。那为什么喝绿茶呢？