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Food Network - The 8 Best Green Teas to Buy, According to Experts

Originally published by Christine Byrne, MPH, RD for Food Network. Link to original article here: Best Green Teas to Buy According to Experts

The flavor of green tea depends on when the leaves were harvested, how and where they were grown and so much more.

a teapot and tea cups sit on a table with a green puerh tea cake next to them

Green tea is extremely popular today, but its roots are literally ancient. Legend has it that green tea was first steeped in 2737 BC, when a few green tea leaves fell into an emperor’s cup of hot water. There are written records of green tea being used medicinally as far back as the Han Dynasty (206-220 AD), according to the Art of Tea, and being drunk for pleasure starting in the Tang Dynasty (600-900 AD).

Typically grown and harvested in China and Japan, it wasn’t until the 19th century that green tea became popular in European and other Western countries. Now, it’s a staple on the menu at any coffee or tea shop in America, and in many home kitchens.

What Are the Health Benefits of Green Tea?

As well as being delicious and having millennia of history behind it, there are likely health benefits to drinking green tea, including lowered blood pressure and decreased stroke risk. In a 2013 study published in the journal Stroke, researchers looked at survey data from Japanese adults and found that drinking two or more cups of green tea per day was associated with lowered risk of stroke and heart disease.

And, a small 2019 study published in the journal Physiological Reports found that green tea consumption was associated with improvements in blood pressure readings.

That said, it likely takes a lot of consistent tea drinking to reap these potential benefits, says Sharon Puello, MA, RD, a dietitian and certified diabetes educator based in Yonkers, New York. “Much of the research around the health benefits of green tea shows demonstrated benefit when intake is consistent and significant (between 2-5 cups of tea per day),” Puello says.

What’s the Difference Between Green Tea and Matcha?

Matcha, a powder derived from green tea leaves, has many of the same benefits as green tea, but tea experts note that there are some key differences between the two. “Matcha is a green tea that is made from grinding pure tea leaves into powder,” says Tomoko Honda, manager of the Ippodo tea store in New York City and the company’s global leader of operations. “The leaves [for matcha] are grown under the shade before harvesting, and this shade cultivation helps the growing tea leaves produce umami and its vivid green color.” On the other hand, leaves that will be brewed for tea (not turned into matcha powder) are grown in sunlight, which dulls their green color. Brewed green tea tends to be earthy and sometimes slightly bitter, whereas matcha has a richer, sweeter flavor.

What Are the Best Green Teas to Buy?

Head to the tea aisle of your local grocery store, and you’ll probably find dozens of green teas available for sale. Online, there are even more varieties to choose from. While most of them probably produce a perfectly nice cup of tea, not all brands are created equal. We asked tea experts to share their favorite green tea brands, so that you know exactly which ones to buy.

"My very favorite green tea is a wild harvested green pu’erh tea,” says Maria Uspenski, Founder & CEO of The Tea Spot. “It’s the closest tea in flavor to what munching down on a raw tea leaf is like, so it reminds me of the beautiful, sunny hillsides where it grows naturally, on big, gnarly ancient tea trees.”

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