“The Chinese proverb says, ‘Better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one,’” proclaimed friend Bernice as she poured a cup of green tea during our afternoon chat. The tea was a Revolution Organic Green Tea ($5.59 for 16 flow-through infusers at Vons). “I could be deprived this tea forever,” I grimaced. The round, full-bodied, slightly grassy flavor appealed to her but not to me. “What I hate in some green teas,” she offered, “is when the tea leaves taste like the smell of a three-day-old pile of raked leaves. I prefer fresh grassy flavored green tea leaves,” she added.

“I prefer to have grass stay out of my tea,” I argued.

To settle the impasse, I grilled usual suspects on their tea likes and dislikes.

“I’m a tea slut. I’ll drink any tea,” answered my friend Nancy. When pressed, she singled out the Tazo Zen Green Tea ($4.49 for 20 bags at Vons) for praise. “But, like I said, I’m easy when it comes to tea,” she said with a wink.

“Can you have a bad tea?” asked my big sis Cathy. “I drink everything.” I didn’t know the world was so full of tea sluts. “But I particularly like the Good Earth teas,” she admitted. “I like reading the saying on the tea bag.”

Bernice’s man Frank was not a fan of the Good Earth Green Tea Lemongrass ($3.99 for 20 bags at Vons). “It has a delightful smell of fruit, but tastes like herbal tea. If you’re somebody who likes the green-tea earthiness, this tea will disappoint. It’s Green Tea Lite.”

Lipton Green Tea with Mandarin Orange Flavor ($5.79 for 20 bags at Vons) turned out to be another lite option. “If you want a tea that tastes like vaguely flavored hot water, drink this tea,” answered Patrick’s coworker Susan. “It has a hint of orange and a half a hint of green-tea flavor.”

Frank did recommend the Yogi Green Tea Pomegranate ($4.99 for 16 bags at Henry’s). “It’s pleasant but not cloying, and the pomegranate takes a little off the acidity without robbing it of its greenness.”

“Don’t buy Uncle Lee’s Green Tea,” warned my sister Meg ($3.79 for 20 bags at Henry’s). “Too much swamp in that tea.”

“Of the mainstream tea brands, I like Twinings Green Tea the best,” offered my tea-aficionado niece Anna ($4.15 for 20 bags at Vons). “Trader Joe’s organic green tea is well balanced — not too bitter, not too mild. It’s good for someone serious about wanting pretty good quality but not willing to go the extra financial mile for it. I just recently graduated to the really hardcore stuff — Organic Royal Matcha Green Tea [30-gram tin for $27.97 at products.mercola.com]. This is for serious green-tea lovers — it comes as a powder that must be mixed into hot water, with the hazard of nasty not-completely-dissolved powder chunks.” Anna directed me to their web page for the nutritional benefits of green tea.

“Next to pure water, drinking green tea from 100% quality tea leaves becomes one of the most nutritious beverages you can consume…. Tea originates from the leaves of Camellia sinensis — a white-flowered evergreen. About 500 species of tea exist, divided into about 50 different countries, with China leading all nations in abundance...but the highest quality teas come from Japan. The different ways teas go through processing sets them apart from one another. After the plucking of tea leaves occurs, they begin to oxidize and ferment, which imparts a distinctive color and taste. Green, black, and oolong tea refer to the method used to process those plucked leaves. For green tea, leaves are steamed, roasted, or pan-fried almost immediately, leaving little chance for them to ferment. As a result, most green teas tend to be lighter in color. The most nutrient-rich green tea, Matcha green tea, comes in a stone-ground powder form — completely unfermented. The best Matcha green tea comes from Japan and is steamed, not roasted or pan-fried. As a result, Matcha green tea retains all the nutrient-rich value possible from the tea leaf and does not have a bitter taste.”

“I am not a fan of Bigelow or Tazo brand green teas,” added Anna, “too weak for me.”

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