The Flavour Profile of Green Tea
Green tea has a light, delicate taste. It's noted for its fresh, vegetal flavour that has subtle grassy notes. The flavour can range from sweet and smooth to slightly bitter and astringent. The tasting experience also varies based on the specific type and grade of green tea.
Green Tea Popularity
Green tea, famed for its health perks from shedding pounds to shielding against cancer and here at Villiers Hotel in Buckingham, especially from our Afternoon Tea guests, we've seen a real spike in green tea orders lately. Many of our guests are wondering — what's the actual flavour behind this buzzing wellness trend?
Well, let's explore the distinct taste of green tea to help you decide if it's your "cup of tea" or not.
Does Green Tea Taste Grassier Than Black Tea?
Yes, green tea tends to have a more prominent fresh, grassy taste compared to black tea. This grassiness comes from plant chlorophyll in the tea leaves. The grassy flavour is usually more pronounced in higher grade green teas.
Black tea is more oxidised during processing so it loses some of its vegetal character, resulting in a slightly maltier or more aromatic flavour.
What Makes Green Tea Taste Bitter?
Green tea can sometimes taste bitter or astringent. This bitter taste is mainly due to the polyphenols and tannins present in tea leaves. Catechins like EGCG give green tea its bitterness. Brewing green tea with water that's too hot can also accentuate bitterness.
Avoiding Bitter Green Tea
There are ways to prevent or minimise bitter flavours when brewing green tea:
- Use lower temperature water of 160-180°F
- Steep for shorter time, 1-3 minutes
- Use higher grade, early season tea leaves
- Add a lemon wedge or dash of hone
How Does Flavour Vary Between Green Tea Types?
There is a wide range of green tea types and cultivars. Subtle differences in cultivar, origin, and production methods give each tea its own distinctive flavour profile.
The most popular green tea in Japan. Bold, vegetal flavour with a grassy finish. Sweet and smooth undertones.
Intensely vegetal and umami flavour. Grassy and leafy with slight bitterness. Gains a rich texture when whisked into a froth.
Rolled into pellet shapes. Fresh, grassy flavour with light smokiness. Honey-toasted notes.
Jasmine Green Tea
Floral jasmine blossoms scent delicately flavours the tea. Light and sweet taste.
Does Green Tea Taste Better Hot or Iced?
Green tea can be enjoyed both hot and iced. Iced green tea allows the grassy, vegetal notes to shine through. The chilled tea has a clean, refreshing flavour.
Hot green tea has a comforting, warming taste. Heat releases more aromatics for a fuller flavour. Both hot and iced green tea have their perks depending on your mood and the season!
Does Adding Milk Change the Taste?
Some people add milk to black teas, but milk is not traditionally added to green tea. Milk proteins can mute or dampen the fresh, delicate flavours of green tea. Milk also cools the tea which prevents the full flavour from emerging.
Try This Instead
For a creamy flavour, whisk matcha into frothy milk for a matcha latte. Or add a splash of non-dairy milk like almond or oat.
What Foods Go Well with Green Tea?
Green tea's light, delicate flavour pairs well with many flavours. Its grassy vegetal notes complement both savory and sweet foods.
Sushi, salads, steamed or sautéed greens, Asian noodles
Citrus flavors, berries, stone fruits, ginger, mint, vanilla, white chocolate
Does Green Tea Have Caffeine?
Yes, green tea contains caffeine like other true teas. However, it generally has less caffeine than black tea or coffee. Green tea has approximately 25-45 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup. The caffeine level depends on factors like the tea leaf size, preparation method, and steeping time.
What Makes a Higher Quality Green Tea?
Higher grade green teas like dragonwell and gyokuro have a sweeter, smoother taste. Higher quality is determined by factors like:
- Leaf maturity - bud and first leaf picks have more flavour
- Origin and cultivar - renowned tea regions and cultivars
- Harvest time - spring picks have better flavour
Does Green Tea Go Bad or Expire?
Green tea leaves can lose their fresh flavour over time. Loose leaf or high quality teas in airtight packaging stay fresh for about a year. Lower grade bagged green tea has a shorter shelf life around 6 months. Old tea will taste flat, faded, and stale.
Proper storage like an airtight container away from heat, light, air, and moisture helps prolong freshness. Look for a packaged tea with a best by date and buy tea from sellers with good turnover.
Further Reading, Research & Studies on Green Tea
There have been plenty of scientific papers and studies done on the flavour of Green Tea to back up our article and following are a selection of the best of them should you wish to read more on the topic.
National Library of Medince (USA) - A comparison of the flavor of green teas from around the world
MDPI (Switzerland) - Discovery and Flavor Characterization of High-Grade Markers in Baked Green Tea
Taylor & Francis Online (UK) - Studies on the Flavor of Green Tea
Ready to Try Green Tea?
Now that you know the light, sweet, and vegetal notes that characterise green tea, it's time to sample some yourself! High quality, fresh green tea is the best way to experience the flavour. Brew up a cup using the proper proportions, water temperature, and steeping time to prevent bitterness.
Soon you'll discover your own preferred taste for green tea.
We hope you enjoyed our article on “What Does Green Tea Taste Like?” and that you'll perhaps be tempted to have a go at some Green Tea - hopefully on your next visit to us here at Villiers Hotel in Buckingham.
For more food-related reads check out “Where In England Did Fish And Chips Originate?” and “Yorkshire Pudding History”.
And if you’re searching for a place to savour fresh scones with clotted cream and jam, check out our fantastic Afternoon Tea in Buckingham.
FAQs | What Does Green Tea Taste Like
Do You Add Milk To Green Tea?
No, milk is not traditionally added to green tea.
How Do You Make Green Tea Taste Nice?
Use high quality leaves and brew at lower temperature for short time.
Does Green Tea Taste Better Hot or Cold?
It tastes great both hot and iced!
Should I Sweeten Green Tea With Honey or Sugar?
Honey is preferable, or just brew a smoother quality green tea.
Is Green Tea Sweet or Bitter?
It can be sweet with vegetal notes or bitter if oversteeped.
How Many Flavours of Green Tea Are There?
Dozens, ranging from grassy to nutty to floral!