Though there are many different flavors of green tea, there is actually only one true type. That is because all tea, whether it is black, white, oolong or green, comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. The difference between these types depends on the preparation of the tea leaves and the fermentation, or oxidation, process. Green tea is not fermented, and is also referred to as unoxidized — it is dried out and steamed. It can also be roasted, fried, powdered, and mixed with fruit or rice.
Though black tea is the most common type of tea prepared in many areas of the world, green tea actually has more health benefits. Because it is not fermented, the helpful chemicals and nutrients remain in the tea and are passed on when a person drinks a cup. This tea contains many antioxidants, including the powerful chemical EGCG. It has also been shown to aid in the prevention of heart disease and to lower harmful LDL cholesterol levels while raising the "good" HDL cholesterol levels. Some people also use this tea to aid in weight loss, improve the appearance of the skin, and to help quit smoking.
This type of tea has a distinctive flavor that is lighter than black tea, but can be somewhat bitter or grassy. There are so many different types of green tea, however, that even if a person doesn't like one flavor, he or she will probably be able to find another one that is more appealing. Milk and sugar are not usually added to these teas, but some people like to add them initially as they get used to the flavor, then slowly cut them out later to get the full health benefits. Some teas are also mixed with fruit flavors, such as blueberry or raspberry, to make them more enjoyable.
There are other popular types of green teas exported from Japan, Korea, and China, among other places. Japanese teas are quite common, and some of the more popular ones are hojicha, genmaicha and matcha teas. Dragon Well is the most popular Chinese green tea, but gunpowder tea is more commonly found in supermarkets.
Green tea can be found in pre-made teabags in stores, but for the best flavor, most experts recommend using loose leaf tea for brewing. Loose leaf teas are available in most grocery stores, but some more uncommon types might be easier to find online. When brewing this type of tea, the water should not be boiling, and the leaves should be allowed to brew for about three to five minutes. This will allow the tea leaves to steep properly without cooking them.