How to Prepare the Perfect Cup of Jasmine Scented Sencha-Style Green Tea. Be Zen...
"A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until she's dropped into hot water." -- Eleanor Roosevelt. It's not very relevant but I love this quote!
We are a family of tea drinkers. My father-in-law is addicted to black tea, specifically PG-tips. My husband prefers the lighter fare, especially green tea. Besides tasting great, green tea has some serious health benefits.
Tea consumption had its origin in China more than 4000 years ago. Green tea has been used as traditional medicine in areas such as China, Japan, India and Thailand to help everything from controlling bleeding and helping heal wounds to regulating body temperature, blood sugar and promoting digestion.
Why green tea?
According to Wikipedia, green tea consumption is associated with various health-promoting properties. For example, it has been shown to promote fat oxidation in humans at rest and to prevent obesity and improve insulin sensitivity in mice. Another study has shown that the main antioxidant polyphenol of green tea extract, EGCG, when fed to mice induced with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, helped to protect brain cells from dying, as well as 'rescuing' already damaged neurons in the brain, a phenomenon called neurorescue or neurorestoration.
To learn more check out the full Wikipedia article entry on green tea.
I advise you to drink a Japanese-Style Sencha tea. You've probably noticed that is usually how your meal ends at a sushi place. Green is a nice clean palate cleanser.
What / Where to buy?
One of the keys to cooking great food is getting the best ingredients, and preparing the perfect cup of tea is no exception. In fact, since there are so few ingredients in a cup of tea, it's all the more important. I'm a big fan Tea Forte for their superior grade Sencha Jasmine Pearl green tea. I love their elegant pyramidal-shaped tea bags that evenly diffuses all the green tea essence in the water. It tastes great and has excellent visual appeal.
Another great option is Teavana or whatever neighborhood teashop you might have. They have tons of varieties of green teas (yes there is more than one) and many of the shops I've been to have a tea sample of the day so you can try new flavors whenever you go. You can also buy Tazo (Starbucks) tea, or for a more reasonable price the San Francisco based tea company Ten Ren Tea. They're all great options, and the most expensive one may not be the best for you.
How to make great green tea
Serving good tea is an art. I'm going to share with you how to prepare green tea "properly". To start with, always use filtered water. You don't want a chlorine taste. Heat up the water, but don't bring it to a full boil. No more than 160°F. The water should basically be bubbling a little and there should be some steam starting to rise whereas with black tea, you should reach a roaring boil.
Green tea will taste best when steeping times last for 1 to 2 minutes. Don't steep too long otherwise it will alter its flavor and might bring a bitter taste.
To add or not to add. I know I might get in trouble with tea lovers but I like to add a teaspoon of sugar cane or raw sugar in my green tea but never add any milk or cream. Anyways, I don't think there is a right or wrong way to appreciate green tea at its best wether you add a sweetener or not.
The tea was served with some raw sugar and paired with homemade dark chocolate truffles. It's a delicious combo of antioxidants!