Want to Get into Green Tea? Start Here.

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Want to get into green tea but don’t know where to begin? Use my starter guide to learn how to brew, get the five green teas you should know, and more.

Green tea

Green Tea

Green tea, black tea, oolong tea, and white tea all come from one plant called the camellia sinensis.

The leaves from the camellia sinensis plant are plucked and processed to make tea. 

Each type of tea goes through a separate process and that’s what makes green tea different from other teas like black tea. 

The process may include oxidizing, roasting, rolling, and drying and the process varies depending on the region and country the green tea is made. 

3 Things ABOUT Green Tea

  1. Green tea is less processed than black tea.
    Green teas in general are less processed since they’re barely oxidized (letting the leaves naturally turn brown from oxygen), which is why green tea is able to maintain the green color unlike black tea or oolong tea. 
  2. After you brew the tea, is it green? Then it’s most likely green tea.
    You can usually tell if you’re drinking a green tea if the tea brewed is a shade of green! It’s a handy tip I learned on how to recognize green tea when I was going through my Tea Sommelier program. 
  3. 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.

RELATED: Oolong Tea Starter Guide

How to Get into Green Tea

Green tea can be overwhelming since it’s hard to figure out where to start. Don’t worry, I’m here to walk you through it!

  1. 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.
  2. Make tea using a cup with an infuser. 
    I outline the steps to brew green tea for tea tastings at the bottom of this post. I recommend brewing tea this way since it’s the best and easiest way for tea beginners to learn.
  3. At the end of the week, select another green tea to drink for the next week.
    You want to go through a handful of green teas so you can start tasting the difference. 

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.

Just a note that matcha is a whole different kind of beast when it comes to green tea. You can read more about it here: What is Matcha?, How to Make Matcha

What You’ll Need TO Make GREEN TEA

Green tea brewing tools

How To Make Green Tea for a tea Tasting

The traditional way to brew green tea is either in a gaiwan (Chinese tea brewing bowl with a lid) for Chinese green tea or in a kyusu Japanese teapot for Japanese green tea but it’s hard to start with those if you’re a beginner.

Tea Sommelier’s Tip: I recommend using a mug with an infuser for beginners. Once you feel comfortable brewing multiple steeps, then go ahead and explore gaiwans and Japanese teapots.

STEP 1 : Boil filtered water.

For black, oolong, and herbal tea, you can use boiling water and have the tea taste just fine. BUT, with green tea it’s not as easy. 

There is a large range when it comes to green tea and each kind needs to be brewed in a different water temperature. This is why an electric kettle with temperature setting is crucial to brewing green tea.

Make sure to look at your green tea package to get the correct water temperature to brew your tea.

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

STEP 2: Warm up mug.

Pour hot water into the mug halfway and swirl it around to warm the cup. 

Once the cup is nice and warm, throw out the water. 

STEP 3: Put 2 teaspoons loose tea into mug and add hot water.

Normally I would use 1.5 teaspoons of tea for a cup, but because we’re doing multiple infusions, I use more tea and steep for a short period of time.

This method of steeping tea multiple times is how tea tastings are done. It’s a great way to understand the taste of the tea through different steeps or infusions.

STEP 4: Steep for 5 seconds and discard water.

This process is called a rinse and gives the tea a quick wash.

STEP 5: Add 1 cup water and cover teapot. Steep tea for 45 seconds.

You want to make sure you’re getting 8 oz, so use a measuring cup the first time to figure out where the water line would be, then, going forward, just eyeball it.

Put the lid on while steeping to keep the water temperature consistent. Use your timer to track the steep time.

STEP 6: Take out infuser and drink.

Your tea is now ready to drink! Keep the infuser nearby for additional steeps. Once you’ve finished the cup, you can do a second steep.

STEP 7: Steep tea again in hot water for 1 minute and 15 seconds.

This is the second infusion and the steep time is longer than the first — add 30 seconds more to the first steep time.

Notice the taste difference between the first and second cup.

OPTIONAL STEP 8: Steep tea once more in hot water adding 30 seconds to the previous steep time.

Green tea is usually steeped three times at the most, but I generally do two steeps.


  • Green tea is delicate and requires a bit more attention when it comes to water temperature. Use an electric kettle with temperature setting to get the correct water temperature.
  • Tea is best when fresh so only buy enough to last you 2-3 months at the most. It’s not a tea to buy in bulk.
  • Always check the recommended water temperature when making green tea. 
  • If you want a more robust green tea flavor, use 1 tablespoon of loose tea instead of 2 teaspoons.


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 it supposed to taste bitter?

Green tea, if properly made, should only taste slightly astringent or bitter. 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 caffeine?

Yes, there is caffeine in green tea, about a third of the caffeine in a cup of coffee.

Can I add milk and sugar?

Generally, no. It’s not like black tea where milk and sugar is usually added.

Where is green tea from?

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.

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). 

How do you buy loose tea?

Loose tea is sold by the ounce or grams and the minimum is usually 2 or 4 ounces, unless the tea is really expensive in which case you may see it selling for as little as 1 ounce. 

How many cups does 2 ounces of tea make?

2 ounces will make about 10 cups of tea. When I try a tea for the first time, I get the minimum and buy again if I like it.

How to Brew Green Tea Properly

Author: Jee Choe
Step-by-step brewing instructions on how to make green tea properly.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 3 mins
Steep Time 1 min
Total Time 4 mins
Course Drinks
Yield1 serving



  • Boil filtered water in an electric kettle.
    Water temperature is different depending on the green tea. Look at the packaging to get the correct water temperature. Use an electric kettle with a temperature setting.
  • Warm up mug.
    Pour some hot water into the mug and swirl it around then discard the water.
  • Put 2 teaspoons of loose green tea into a mug with an infuser.
  • Add hot water and steep for 5 seconds.
    Fill the mug halfway and swirl the hot water around. After 5 seconds, take out the infuser and throw out the water.
  • Pour in 1 cup of hot water and steep tea for 45 seconds.
    Make sure the lid is on while the tea steeps.
  • Take out infuser and drink.
  • Steep tea again in hot water for 1 minute and 15 seconds.
    Once you've finished your cup, put the infuser with the tea back in and add another cup of hot water. Steep then take out the infuser and drink again. 
  • Optional: Steep tea again in hot water, adding 30 seconds to the previous steep time.
    You can steep tea a few times until the tea loses flavor.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ohhowcivilized and use hashtag #ohhowcivilized!

4 thoughts on “Want to Get into Green Tea? Start Here.”

  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???

    • 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.

  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?

    • 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.


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