Everything You Need to Know About Making Green Tea

You know green tea. You love green tea. Follow these tips to make the perfect cup at home—and to learn a thing or two about the superdrink.
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How is green tea made?

By heating and drying out the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and then steeping them in hot water. The differences in the colors of tea stem from how much the leaves have oxidized and how the leaves are processed. Compared to other varieties of tea, green tea is one of the least processed.

Are there different types of green tea?

You bet! Varieties are produced all over the world, from Sri Lanka to South Carolina, but the most popular versions generally hail from China and Japan. In China, green tea leaves are pan-fired, while in Japan they’re steamed.

What’s matcha?

Matcha is a green tea that is ground into a powder. The bright-green color and naturally sweet flavor make it ideal for baked goods—and lattes, of course.

What should I buy?

The short answer, according to Charity Chalmers, an industry-certified tea specialist and creator of Chariteas Tea Company in Sandy, Oregon, is loose leaf from a good tea shop. “The taste and flavor profile will be more pronounced,” she says. “Preference plays an important role as well. You know you’ve found a good tea when you enjoy drinking it!”

tea cup

How do you make the perfect cup?

As a rule of thumb, use one tablespoon of tea for every cup of water. Bring fresh water to a boil, then let it rest for a few minutes off heat. If the water is too hot, you’ll scorch your leaves, resulting in a bitter-tasting cup. According to Chalmers, the ideal temp for brewing green tea is between 175 and 185 degrees. “Steep your tea for two to five minutes, depending on the type and your personal preference,” she says. Strain the leaves (you can save them for a second cup!) and enjoy your beverage. 

How do you store it?

Find out when the tea was processed. (If the date isn’t on the packaging, ask at the store.) The leaves should be used within approximately 12 months and stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry cupboard. Be careful about keeping your tea near the garlic powder; it will pick up the scents of anything stored around it.

Are the benefits of drinking green tea for real?

They are. Green tea is full of antioxidants (which research has shown can help protect the body against certain diseases). But beyond its medicinal properties, Chalmers sees another benefit. “Whenever you decide to have a cup of tea, you have to stop, brew, and sip,” she says. “Doing this relaxes the mind and body.”