Finding Good Green Tea – Tips from a Tea Buyer

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Long time green tea connoisseur and tea buyer offers advice on what to look for when purchasing green tea.

— In the unlikely event the news hasn’t reached you by now, green tea is high on the list of things healthy to consume. Consumers, however, are often finding themselves perplexed at what to buy. Most end up turning to is the local grocery or health food store, often with less than agreeable results. Kevin Moore, President and founder of internet based O-Cha.com is a regular wholesale buyer of high quality green tea in Japan and offers up some advice.

Green Tea Is Like Wine – You Get What You Pay For

According to Moore, green tea draws a close analogy with wine. “As with wine, there are those that go for six dollars, and those that fetch significantly more. If there was ever a case of getting what you pay for, green tea is it”, Moore states. He further adds, “Unlike the average Japanese person who has spent their daily lives drinking and expecting good green tea, most American and European consumers wouldn’t know a good green tea from a bad one. The average mass marketed green tea on the US market fails to come close to even a mediocre Japanese tea. Since green tea is so new in the West, those new to it really have nothing to compare it against.”

Japan, Home of the World's Best Green Tea

While green tea is produced in numerous countries, Japan is generally credited with having the finest green teas. Originating from the same species of plant of as its Western counterpart, the major difference comes from the way it is produced; leaves of green tea are processed to prevent oxidization.

Tips for selecting a good green tea:

There are three to four harvests per year, know what you are getting. Green tea from the first harvest is always superior to subsequent harvests, and is known as “first flush” or “first harvest.”

If you want above average green tea, expect to do some searching. While there are many suppliers, most green teas available to North American consumers, both at the store and on the internet, have spent considerable time in storage and transit.

Compared to other teas, freshness is very important with green tea; know when it was packaged and when it expires. Because green tea is processed to prevent oxidization, it has a much shorter shelf life than other types of teas. Properly packaged green tea has a maximum shelf life of six to twelve months.

Green tea should always be consumed within a relatively short time period after contents of the package have been exposed to the open air. Once exposed to oxygen, its shelf life drops to three months or less.

Avoid flavored green teas. High quality green teas do not need added flavorings or herbs to make them palatable, and most such teas are rarely going to be fresh. Moore advises that if you have a sweet tooth, try to suppress the urge to add sugar or flavorings with green tea. “Adding sugar to green tea in Japan would be akin to adding jelly as a topping on one’s spaghetti in the USA – you just don’t do it”, Moore states.

Expect to pay more. First harvest green teas can be purchased from around fifteen dollars and up, later harvests for much less. With the average 100 gram package making over 100 servings, it’s not usually as expensive as it first may appear.

About O-Cha.com

One of the first shops online to offer high quality Japanese green teas and matcha directly to end consumers, O-Cha.com operates directly out of Japan and was recently featured in a Discovery Channel Documentary on the science of green tea. Offering an online forum for green tea connoisseurs, O-Cha.com website offers a large lineup of loose leaf green teas and matcha to its customers worldwide.

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Kevin Moore
O-CHA.COM
+81-246-21-7745
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