Most of us can't get through our day without those milky blends of tea but there's a new kid in town bursting with flavours - green tea. This delicate, clear brew is creating a storm in a teacup owing to its superpowers but not everyone has jumped on the bandwagon yet. When asked, most people say they don't like the flavour of this tea but most times it's because they're buying inferior green teas and are probably brewing them incorrectly!How to brew the perfect green tea?
What is green tea?
Popular in Japan and China, green tea is slowing gaining popularity in the rest of the world because of its health benefits. Unlike other teas, green tea is quickly preserved and heated to prevent oxidation. Oxidation is the same natural process that turns the colour of an apple after you slice it, as it's exposed to oxygen. It is due to this difference in processing that green tea retains the maximum antioxidants and polyphenols that are responsible for its many health benefits.
It is significant to note that most green tea brands do not mention that the tea has caffeine. This may have a reverse effect on people who unknowingly drink green tea at night to sleep better or for a calming escapade.
Green tea benefits - why is it good for you?
The list of green tea benefits runs long - it helps in weight loss, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, reduces bad cholesterol, blood pressure, throat infections, boosts memory and also helps if you're trying to quit smoking! To top it all off, green tea also helps prevent signs of ageing and wrinkles.
The temperature of the water plays a crucial role in making the perfect cup of tea. If the water is too hot, the tea will be bitter and lose its aroma. It's best to use water that's at a temperature of 75 - 80 degree Celsius. If using tea bags, it should be brewed for 2-3 minutes. For tea leaves it takes longer - about 3-4 minutes.
We chose six popular Indian brands and compared the most common flavors amongst them. We made sure these brands are readily available nationwide.
Tetley, Organic India, Eco Valley, GAIA, Taj Mahal (Brooke Bond) and Mittal's.
Specific flavors were compared amongst different brands. Water was heated at a temperature of about 75 - 80 degree Celsius. Tea bags were brewed for 2-3 minutes. We gave the brands an overall score on the basis of these parameters -
Was the taste earthy and smooth or was it overpowering?
Did the tea have a natural astringent quality or a bitter aftertaste?
Did the aroma make us hold on to our cups a little longer or turn us away?
Drinkable or enjoyable
Was the tea inviting enough?
Flavour 1 - Regular Green Tea
To begin with, the tea had a stale smell which almost turned us away from taking the very first sip. It was literally a bitter pill for us to swallow. The flavor was overpowering and it left us with a sour aftertaste. For those who like this one, we suggest you brew it for a shorter time than the ideal 2-3 minutes.
It tasted and smelled exactly like black tea. We didn't go back for seconds. For green tea enthusiasts like us, this was a downer.
This green tea was bitter and almost flavourless. It didn't offer us anything to look forward to.
Flavour 2 - Lemon Green Tea
The flavor was unexciting and boring and did not lure us towards a second sip.
Tetley: Lemon, Ginger & Mint
To our surprise this one tasted and smelled exactly like spearmint gum. The flavour was dull but it is definitely one of their better ones.
Eco Valley: Sunny Lemon
With summer around the corner, this one is a refreshing pick. It won us over with its bright citrus flavor, just as the name suggests. The tea bags seeped in time to a sunny hue. The pleasant aroma was inviting and added to its taste. Overall an enjoyable experience.
Taj Mahal: Lemon Honey
The initial whiff of honey made our hopes rise but disappointment was close. The flavor was almost bland with a weird aftertaste.
Organic India: Lemon Ginger
Firstly, this pack must be credited for its labeling. It was one of the few brands to mention that the tea contains caffeine. We loved the earthiness of the well balanced flavours - you can feel the goodness of lemon and tulsi in every sip. Also underlined with the zing of ginger, one can almost imagine a knob of ginger floating in it. A cozy cup to warm up to on nippy day.
Flavour 3 - Mint Green Tea
A repeated concern for this brand is that most of their teas tasted average, lacking character. Unfortunately, this one too had a weak flavor and had nothing memorable to offer.
This brew made us 'ooh' and 'aah' and has been placed comfortably at the top of the list. It had a crisp minty flavor that was subtle and not overpowering at all. A very mature tea with a full bodied flavor. Like how a whiskey connoisseur would tell you - this one is a smooth blend. It also had a beautiful aroma, the kind that makes you put your cup to your nose more than to your lips.
Eco Valley: Mint & Dandelion
We have to confess after their robust lemon flavor, we were really looking forward to this one but it failed to dazzle us. Unlike the former, this one was just drinkable not enjoyable.
Flavour 4 - Jasmine Green Tea
Organic India: Tulsi Jasmine Tea
This tea greeted us with a dark woody hue and the sharp aroma of tulsi. It was calming cup of tea with a great blend of both the flavors.
Mittal's: Jasmine Tea
While the above flavor was more in your face, Mittal's was genteel and delicate. We never knew tea could smell so good. The aroma was so enticing that it could be a perfume! The taste was bold, fragrant and flowery. It instantly became one of our favorites from the very first sip.
Flavour 5 - Tulsi Green Tea
With this one, GAIA lost all hopes of impressing us. A faint aroma of tulsi and a bitter aftertaste made us unsure of trying the other flavours.
Eco-Valley: Tulsi & Citrus
Since we loved their lemon flavor, we hoped this one would tickle our taste buds too, but it left us with a sour surprise. The faint fragrance and flavour didn't work for us.
We loved the mild grassiness of the tulsi flavor. It was definitely not one of their best but we wouldn't mind a cup every now and then.
Organic India: Tulsi & Pomegranate
This tea offered us a delicate tulsi flavour enhanced by the sweet notes of pomegranate. It had an unusual reddish tinge. The fruity aroma and taste left us cheerful and spirited. Cue smiley faces.
It's safe to say that Organic India and Mittal's stole the show. But as most teas left us with a cold void, asking for much more, we wonder if the green tea boom is yet to mature in India.
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