With lower levels of caffeine and greater potential health benefits, many of us now prefer a cup of green tea to a cup of coffee. Whether you enjoy Japanese or Chinese green tea, there are so many options available, and all of these may help reduce your risk of developing chronic disorders such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes.Unfortunately, for the uninitiated, a cup of green tea can be a cup of bitter tea, rather than the refreshing, light and ‘grassy’ drink that it should be. In this review we give you the lowdown on green tea, the main types available, how it is best brewed and sweetened to give you a light and refreshing drink, whether hot or cold. We have also taken a look at some of the best green tea currently available.
The Yogi Green Tea Super Antioxidant is our best pick as a green tea blend that is rich in antioxidants and free from artificial sweeteners and flavors.
Harney & Sons citron green tea is our budget pick as a light and citrus flavored green tea which may be ideal for those new to green tea.
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Green Tea
1. Yogi Green Tea Super Antioxidant
A blend of green tea, lemongrass and licorice, the Yogi Green Tea Super Antioxidant gives a slightly sweet and citrus taste. It contains various other ingredients such as amla extracts and grapeseed which are antioxidants that help reduce damage by free radical molecules in the body. This is a six pack of 16 compostable tea bags (total count 96 tea bags).This is a caffeinated green tea blend with non-GMO ingredients and organic lemongrass. Free from artificial sweeteners or flavors, it is also suitable for vegan, kosher and gluten free diets. If you are a regular Yogi green tea drinker, you may find that this blend does not have as strong a flavor as what you are used to.
2. Harney & Sons Citron Green Tea
The 20 sachet/bag tin of Harney & Sons citron green tea contains green teas, marigold petals and orange oil to give a steamed clear and light Chinese green tea with a citrus flavor. This does have a high caffeine content for a green tea, and although each sachet should make two cups of citron green tea, some users will find that it only makes one.
3. Stash Tea Premium Green Loose Leaf Tea
The Stash premium green tea (loose leaf) comes as a 16 oz bag and is ideal for brewing with an infuser or strainer. It is also suitable to use in baking or to infuse sauces. Some drinkers have found that this tea has been too finely ground. This makes it more difficult to infuse and means it also leaves residue in the cup. This tea has been blended in Oregon and the bag is resealable and foil lined for optimal tea storage once opened.
4. Tazo China Green Tips
The Tazo China Green Tips tea is made from spring-harvest green teas grown in the Zhejiang mountains of China. This is a light green tea that does not contain any other added ingredients, but if you do prefer a more rounded green tea, you may find this tea a little light in flavor.This tea comes as a six pack of 20 tea bags, which means that unlike loose green tea, you do not need to strain, just steep the teabag for around three minutes and then drink.
5. Lipton Green Tea
With 100% natural green tea made from young tea leaves, Lipton green tea is naturally low in caffeine and is also Rainforest Alliance Certified. This pack contains six boxes of 40 individually wrapped tea bags. You may find that this tea has a weaker flavor than other green teas or may even prefer to use two bags to increase its flavor when brewing.
6. Stash Tea Premium Green Tea
The Stash premium green tea (box of 100) is a Japanese style green tea in which the leaves have been steam processed in the traditional Japanese method to preserve its color, fragrance and flavor. The green tea is grown in Yamamotoyama’s Brazilian tea gardens, which has fertile soil and an ideal climate for green tea growing.The bags are natural fiber and are individually wrapped, although some users have experienced the string detaching from the tea bag as it has not been stapled on securely. This is a lighter green tea, so the flavor may not suit all green tea drinkers.
7. The Republic of Tea Acai Green Tea
With a blend of Chinese organic green tea and organic acai berry, the Republic of Tea acai green tea is best served over ice, which means you will need to use more tea bags per steep to get the correct flavor for an iced tea. In a pack of 50 compostable tea bags, this tea also contains hibiscus and some natural flavorings and will need steeping for up to three minutes. This tea is gluten-free and certified organic.
8. The Republic of Tea People’s Green Tea
With a smooth and refreshing flavor, The Republic of Tea People’s Green Tea is a pure Chinese green tea which has been decaffeinated using a high pressure carbon dioxide extraction method that is chemical free and environmentally friendly. This tea is also non-GMO and comes in a tin of 50 compostable tea bags.This is a delicate tea with a smooth flavor which you are advised to steep for up to three minutes before drinking.
9. Numi Organic Tea Jasmine Green
Organic jasmine flowers are mixed with organic tea leaves in this Numi organic tea Jasmine Green to give a bright green tea with a subtle flavor. This comes in a three box pack with 18 tea bags in each, although a number of people may only receive one box instead of the three purchased, so have to follow the refund process.As well as being certified organic, it is also Fair Trade, Halal and Kosher. Jasmine Green is a Chinese tea that contains a medium amount of caffeine, and the tea bags are biodegradable and non-GMO. The jasmine flavor of this tea may be too light for some drinkers.
10. Numi Organic Tea Gunpowder Green
The Numi Organic Tea gunpowder green is a full-bodied green tea that has been rolled into pearls which unroll and release its flavor when steeping. This 18 tea pack of caffeinated green tea is organic and Fair Trade certified and the tea bags are non-GMO and biodegradable.
Things to Consider Before Buying Green Tea
What Makes Green Tea Different to Black and Oolong Teas
All teas, including green teas, come from the Camellia sinesis plant. The main differences between green and other types of tea, is its natural green color, the type of stem from where it is grown, how it is harvested and how it is processed.
Green tea is often from the first harvest or ‘flush’ that tends to occur in early or mid-spring time. Many believe that this first flush produces the best quality, and therefore, are the most expensive leaves.
Unlike oolong and black teas, green teas are steamed raw after straight after picking, which avoids the oxidation process which would lead to a black or oolong tea. Unlike Japanese green tea farmers, Chinese green tea farmers pan-fry the leaves to dry them out and flatten them – this gives stiffer leaves than a Japanese green tea.
Japanese Green Teas
Sencha is the most common variety of Japanese green tea and is usually made from the first or second flush of the Camellia sinesis. After picking, the leaves are steamed, from the youngest leaves at the top of the plant and downwards. After steaming, the leaves are dried and rolled which gives them a needle-like shape and helps intensify flavor as the juices in the leaves are released during steeping.
The flavor tends to be grassy or seaweed-like, and if it is made with water that is too hot it can be harsh and bitter. If Sencha is infused for 20 to 45 seconds in water between 160°F and 170°F it will be smoother and sweeter.
If Sencha is mixed with unprocessed brown rice, it creased a nutty and full bodied tea known as genmaicha, or ‘brown rice tea’.
Bancha tea is the second harvest after the first flush has been taken for Sencha. Picked between June and October, as each harvest passes, the leaves become less desirable. This tends to have a slightly earthier flavor than Sencha.
Gyokuro green tea is like Sencha except it costs more as around three weeks before the harvest the leaves are hidden from sunlight to reduce photosynthesis and keep amino acids in the plants to give Gyokuro a fuller, or unami taste. Unami is used to describe foods with inherent savoriness. Parmesan, miso, seaweed and mushrooms are unami as these contain a high level of the amino acid glutamate.
Gyokuro only needs a short infusion (15 to 30 seconds) at a lower temperature of between 150°F and 160°F.
Tencha is processed the same as Gyokuro, except it is not rolled after its harvesting and steaming. If the stems and veins of Tencha is removed and the remaining leaves are ground after being dried out, then this becomes Matcha.
Matcha is bittersweet and you tend to find that higher quality Matcha is sweeter whereas lower quality tends to be more bitter.
Funmatsucha is another ground tea, but much more bitter, as unlike Matcha its leaves are not shaded from sunlight before harvest. This bitter tea is actually richer in antioxidants than other types of green tea.
Shincha is a first flush tea often bitter and low in caffeine. This tends to be a more expensive green tea.
Fukamushicha is a blend of leaves from different processes, including Sencha and Gyokura. These leaves are deep steamed to give a richer, yet lighter flavor.
Chinese Green Teas
Biluochun tea is from in the Dongting mountain region and is rolled into a tight spiral that looks like a snail shell, hence its name biluochun – ‘green snail spring’. It has a strong aroma and is available in seven grades which decrease in order of quality. Teas manufactured in different provinces may be smoother and nuttier than that produced in Jiangsu Province.
Long Jing or ‘dragon well’ was the imperial tea during the Qing dynasty and remains a popular tea with its sweet and mild flavor with some underlying chestnut flavor.
The Huangshan Maofeng or ‘yellow mountain fur peak’ is produced in the Anhui Province and only new buds are picked in the early spring for this tea. This green tea has a slight floral taste to it.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea has long been part of traditional Chinese and Indian medicine and scientists today continue their research into the benefits of green tea on our health. As green tea contains many different types of molecules, it is also taking time to isolate the numerous molecules that have a beneficial effect.
The most well-known molecules to date in green tea are its polyphenols. Around 30% by weight of green tea is polyphenols, including the catechin called EGCG which is a focus for many green tea studies.
The catechins are natural antioxidants that help prevent free radical or oxidative damage in the body – a type of damage at cellular level caused by free radical molecules - which contributes to aging and development of many disease including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Green tea also contains small amounts of minerals which may be health-beneficial.
Green tea is rich in polyphenols which can decrease tumor growth in animal and laboratory studies. Green tea may also have a positive effect on specific cancer types such as bladder, breast, bowel, stomach, lung and skin.
Consuming green tea, and in particular its catechins, may be linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, as well as it possibly reducing total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. The death rate in a number of patients recovering from heart attaches was 44% lower in those who drank at least two cups a day, compared with those who did not drink any.
Although research between green tea and type 2 diabetes remains inconsistent, some studies have found a lower risk of developing diabetes in those who regularly drink green tea.
A component of green tea may help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, however much more research is needed. Some green tea drinkers were also shown to have more activity in the working-memory area of the brain – an area affected in Alzheimer’s.
Green tea may be able to help boost our metabolism and may increase fat oxidation (‘burning’), although other studies have contradicted these findings.
Side Effects of Green Tea
The caffeine in green tea can cause an upset stomach, interfere with our sleep, cause headaches and increase anxiety in some people. Current research suggests we should not have more than 300 mg of caffeine per day.
The amount of caffeine in green tea depends on the type of tea and how long it is steeped for. An average cup of green tea may contain between 22 mg and 40 mg of caffeine.
Absorption of iron in your body may be blocked by the catechins in green tea, and in some cases, may lead to anemia. If you are at risk of anemia, you can drink green tea between meals and wait for an hour after a meal before having a cup.
Catechins may also interfere with some medication; although there may be more risk of this if you take green tea supplements rather than just drink green tea because supplements contain more catechins.
Sweetening Green Tea
Green tea is usually at its best when made with water between 140°F and 180°F and steeped for several minutes. The tannic phenols – which can make green tea bitter – tend to infuse into the water at 180°F upwards, so if you are careful with the water temperature, the tea should not usually be as bitter. Steeping at a lower temperature also preserves the catechins in the tea.
If, however, you do want to sweeten it to make it more palatable to your taste buds, then chemical sweeteners are one option, or you can use a natural sweetener such as honey. If you use a honey, also consider its flavor as some small batch honey may have a strong flavor of its own which can overpower the tea. Agave syrup is another natural option, or the addition of lemon juice and/or mint can help bring out the natural flavor of the green tea.
As well as reviewing some of the most popular green teas on the market, we have looked at some of the main types available, why a green tea is green, and perhaps, most importantly, what some of the health benefits are that green tea is currently linked to.
Whether you are a green tea aficionado or would like to drink green tea for its potential health benefits or lower caffeine levels, we hope you have found this best green tea review interesting. We also hope that the tips we have provided could help to ensure that your first, or next, cup of green tea tastes exactly as it should do.