As you’ve no doubt noticed if you’ve sipped on several different types of green tea, not all green tea taste the same, even though it all comes from the same plant variety.
It depends not only on the processing method the tea producers use, but also on the cultivation practices the tea growers use. What time of year is the tea plucked? How is the plant pruned? What parts of the plant are plucked? Are the plants treated with chemicals or are they organically grown? What kind of heat is applied to the tea leaves to stop oxidation? How are the tea leaves shaped, rolled and dried? Are the leaves left whole or cut in smaller pieces?
A tea’s final flavor also depends on the “terroir” or environment the tea is grown in. Is it cool and mountainous or hot and tropical? Do the plants live next to limestone and pine trees or sand and seaweed? Do the tea plants grow near other crops that can affect their flavor, like rose bushes, coffee plants or grape vines?
The most popular, widely consumed types of green teas hail from the places where green tea originated: China and Japan. Green teas from China and Japan have different flavor profiles based on where and how they are grown, but most distinctively how they are processed—pan fired in China and steamed in Japan. Other countries producing green tea typically take cues from China or Japan and adopt one of these country’s tea production styles.