Green Tea: Health Benefits and How to Brew Properly

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Green tea is one of the trickiest teas to brew properly. Get step-by-step instructions from a Tea Sommelier, plus see green tea health benefits.

Green tea in a glass mug.

What is Green Tea?

Green tea, like black tea and white tea, are the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant that have been plucked and processed.

Each type of tea goes through a different process and for green tea, the process may include withering roasting, rolling, and drying. The process varies depends on the region and country the green tea is made. 

Green tea is less processed than black tea and they’re barely oxidized (letting the leaves naturally turn brown from oxygen). This is why green tea is able to maintain the green color unlike black tea or oolong tea. 

There are a variety of green teas but the well known ones are produced in China and Japan. Green tea, like all other types of tea, originated in China. Thousands of years ago Japan started cultivating green tea from tea plants brought over from China. Other countries like South Korea also produce green tea but on a much smaller scale.

Green tea is a type of tea. Dragonwell, gunpowder, sencha, and matcha are all green teas.

RELATED: Iced Green Tea

Five different green teas in small white plates.
Assortment of green teas.

5 Green Tea Health Benefits

1. Provides Antioxidants

When it comes to antioxidants, you can’t go wrong with green tea. It’s rich in beneficial compounds called polyphenols, including catechin, the main antioxidant in the tea. Polyphenols reduce oxidative stress, which protects healthy cells from damage.

2. Increases Energy

If you’re looking for a gentle boost of energy, green tea is an excellent choice. According to the Mayo Clinic, one 8-ounce cup of green tea holds 28 milligrams of caffeine. For context, 8 ounces of black tea contains 47 milligrams, while 8 ounces of brewed coffee contains 96 milligrams.

Plus, unlike coffee, green tea will increase your energy without the crash. That’s because it contains a molecule called L-theanine, which counteracts the jittery effects of coffee. 

3. Promotes Relaxation 

L-theanine also has a calming effect on the body and mind, according to a 2022 article. It works by changing how your nerve cells, or neurons, interact with each other. It also doesn’t hurt that the ritual of making and drinking green tea is extremely relaxing. 

4. Supports Brain Function

The caffeine in green tea can help you feel more alert and focused. What’s more, the antioxidant activity of catechins can protect nerve cells from oxidative stress. This can help reduce the risk of various cognitive conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, a 2020 study found that older people who drink green tea are less likely to experience cognitive decline.

5. Protects Heart Health

As green tea antioxidants reduce oxidative stress, they also protect the heart. That’s because oxidative stress can contribute to the development of heart disease, according to a 2020 article in Frontiers in Physiology. Catechins (which are found in green tea) can also help reduce high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Side Effect of Green Tea

If you’re sensitive to caffeine, be mindful when drinking green tea. It might contain less caffeine than coffee or black tea, but it might be too much if you’re not used to caffeine.

Possible symptoms of excess caffeine intake include fast heart rate, headaches, jitters, restlessness, and sleep issues, according to the National Library of Medicine. 

RELATED: Starbucks Iced Green Tea Copycat

Step-by-Step Brewing Instructions

Steps to make green tea.

For full ingredients and instructions, scroll down to see the recipe.

  1. Boil water.
    Check the tea package to see the correct water temperature. Using an electric kettle with temperature setting to boil water for tea makes it easy to get the water temperature just right. Boil more than needed since you want extra to warm up the teapot.
  2. Warm up teapot.
    Pour some hot water into the teapot and swirl it around a bit. Discard the water.
  3. Put green tea into the teapot and add hot water. Cover teapot and steep.
    Check the tea package to see the steep time.
  4. Strain green tea solids and pour hot tea into a teacup.

Tea Sommelier’s Tips

Not all green tea is the same.
There is a large range when it comes to green tea and each kind needs to be brewed in different water temperatures and steep times. This is why an electric kettle with temperature setting is crucial to brewing green tea properly. Make sure to look at your green tea package to get the correct water temperature to brew your tea.

Don’t use boiling hot water to brew green tea.
Green tea is a little more delicate than hearty black tea so using boiling hot water may just burn the leaves, leaving your green tea tasting really bitter.

Use good quality water.
Always use filtered water for the best tasting cup of tea.

Green tea can be served with or without sugar.
Milk isn’t generally added to green tea but you can add a little sugar if you prefer although I like it without sugar.

Green tea is green.
You can usually tell if you’re drinking a green tea if the tea brewed is a shade of green. (But not all green tea brews to a green color.) It’s a handy tip I learned on how to recognize green tea when I was going through my Tea Sommelier program. 

Store it properly.
Brewed green tea can be placed in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in an airtight container.

RELATED: Top 10 Tea Sommelier Tips

Green tea in a white gaiwan.

How to Get into Green Tea

Green tea can be overwhelming since it’s hard to figure out where to start. Here’s how to get into green tea like a pro.

Pick one green tea to drink for a week.
To get started with any tea, you need to drink a lot of it. One tea a day for a week. Don’t drink any other tea, just the one you’ve selected for the week. With this method, you should be able to taste that tea at a later time and recognize it.

At the end of the week, select another green tea to drink for the next week.
You want to go through a few green teas so you can start tasting the difference. 

RELATED: Starbucks Iced Green Tea Lemonade Copycat

5 Green Teas All Beginners Should Try

  1. Genmaicha
    This was my gateway into tea. It’s nutty, toasty, and it’s a good introduction to green tea since there’s brown rice and popcorn added. (See how to brew genmaicha properly.)
  2. Sencha
    The most popular tea in Japan. (See how to brew sencha properly.)
  3. Hojicha
    A roasted green tea, it’s super nutty in flavor. I love it. (See how to brew hojicha properly.)
  4. Long Jing (Dragonwell)
    This is on almost every tea menu and it’s easy to spot since the leaves are long and flat.
  5. Bi Luo Chun
    One of the most famous green teas from China.

Questions You May Have

What does green tea taste like?

This is a trick question. There is a wide range of green tea and the taste is completely different depending on how it is made. It can go from vegetal (some even taste like spinach broth) and grassy to sweet and nutty. 

Is green tea supposed to taste bitter?

Green tea, if properly made, should only taste mildly astringent. You’re either using too high a temperature to brew or you’re brewing it for too long if your tea is way too bitter to drink.

Is there a difference between loose tea, tea sachets, and tea bags?

Yes! Loose tea is the highest quality, followed by tea sachets. Tea bags contain the lowest quality tea.

Where can I buy green tea?

My go-to places to buy are Ippodo Tea (for all Japanese teas) and Harney & Sons (good selection and free shipping). 

Brewed green tea.

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How to Brew Green Tea Properly

Author: Jee Choe
Step-by-step brewing instructions on how to make green tea.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 2 mins
Steep Time 3 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Drinks
Yield1 serving

INGREDIENTS
 

  • 1 cup water + more to warm teapot
  • 1 ½ teaspoons green tea or 1 tea sachet or tea bag

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Boil water.
    If using an electric kettle with temperature setting, set it to the water temperature listed on the tea package. Heat a little more water than needed so that it can be used to warm up the teapot.
  • Warm up teapot.
    Pour some hot water into a teapot and swirl it around. Discard the water.
    Warming up the teapot is an extra step that all tea professionals take the time to do, so that when the tea steeps, the water temperature won't drop drastically.
  • Put green tea into the teapot and add hot water. Cover teapot and steep for 3-4 minutes.
    Steep time depends on the green tea. Check the tea package.
  • Strain green tea solids and pour hot tea into a teacup.

NOTES

  • There is a large range when it comes to green tea and each kind needs to be brewed in different water temperatures and steep times. This is why an electric kettle with temperature setting is crucial to brewing green tea properly. Make sure to look at your green tea package to get the correct water temperature to brew your tea.
  • Green tea is a little more delicate than hearty black tea so using boiling hot water may just burn the leaves, leaving your green tea tasting really bitter.
  • Always use filtered water for the best tasting cup of tea.
  • Milk isn’t generally added to green tea but you can add a little sugar if you prefer although I like it without sugar.
  • You can usually tell if you’re drinking a green tea if the tea brewed is a shade of green. (But not all green tea brews to a green color.) It’s a handy tip I learned on how to recognize green tea when I was going through my Tea Sommelier program.
  • Brewed green tea can be placed in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in an airtight container.
  • 5 green teas to try: Genmaicha, Sencha, Hojicha, Long Jing (Dragonwell), Bi Luo Chun

NUTRITION

Calories: 0.1 | Carbohydrates: 0.02g | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 3mg | Calcium: 7mg
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4 thoughts on “Green Tea: Health Benefits and How to Brew Properly”

  1. I will try but seems like a lot of work for a cup of tea….but I guess if you are drinking it it should be at its best…can you just not let the kettle boil as long or use a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature???

    Reply
    • Hi JoAnne, it is a lot of work when you first start drinking tea this way, but the more you brew tea properly, the quicker and easier it gets. Yes, you can not let the kettle boil as long and you can use a candy thermometer to check the water temp.

      Reply
  2. My kettle does not have different settings, so I usually poor the water into a pot to cool it. Sometimes I poor it into the teapot, then into a glass pot and back again to cool it further. Can you recommend a good amount of times to move the water back and forth to cool it?

    Reply
    • Hi Melissa, if your kettle just boils water, pouring the water into a different container is a great idea to reduce the water temperature. Each time you do a pour, it’ll reduce the water temperature 5-10 degrees. The number of times to move the water back and forth would depend on the tea you’re brewing.

      Reply

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