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Hello, and welcome back to part 3 of the Identifying Teas journey! Tea is my passion, and I'm making it my goal to share my passion with the world!
So, I know we've talked about green teas before, in the past. We already know about the health benefits and the sensitivity of the tea leaves. Today, we will talk about the history of green tea, and how it is processed. Plus, at the very end, I have a little surprise recipe for you guys, so sit tight!
Let's talk green tea!
What is it? Where did it come from?
Green tea is another true tea, made from the camellia sinensis plant.
Originating in China, green tea was the original style of tea. It was around for centuries, but was officially documented in 600 AD by Lu Yu. Lu Yu wrote "Cha Jing," or the "Tea Classic," which is considered the most important book in Tea history.
The "Cha Jing" documented how green tea should be made and served, while also providing insight into the early lives of the people of China. Through this book, we can note that tea, particularly green tea, is one of the oldest documented beverages that we still enjoy today.
As far as what makes green tea different from white or yellow tea, all of that information is credited to the processing each type goes through.
So how is it processed?
White tea is not allowed to oxidize at all, and yellow tea is oxidized only a little bit. So what makes green tea so different from the previous two?
Green tea is not allowed to oxidize too much, either. Basically, the process is as follows:
Plucked ----> Withered ----> Pan Fired or Steamed ----> Dried.
The tea leaves are plucked and slightly withered, and then immediately cooked to prevent too much oxidization. This allows the tea to keep the green hue. The difference between pan firing or steaming the tea leaves is all dependent on what country the tea comes from.
In China, they pan or wok roast the tea leaves, which usually results in a lighter colored tea leaf. This process neutralizes the natural enzymes of the tea leaves. They are dried right after. A couple great examples of Chinese green teas are Dragonwell, or Da Fang.
In Japan, the tea leaves are steamed instead of roasted. This results in a bright green infusion. The most well-known of Japanese green teas is Matcha (which y'all know is my favorite) and Gyokuro Imperial.
And Now for an Amazing Recipe...
This is another amazing recipe from the "Culinary Tea" book.
Matcha is an obvious choice in most cooking experiments, and if you love matcha, then you are going to love these cookies. Here is the recipe:
Matcha "Tea Leaves"
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier liqueur
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons of Matcha green tea powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of Chinese 5-spice powder (a spice blend comprised of star anise, anise, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Mix on medium speed until smooth. Blend in your Grand Marnier and then add your flour, matcha, 5-spice powder, and salt. Mix until the dough pulls together.
Flatten your dough into a disk and place between two sheets of waxed paper, or parchment paper. Roll out to 1/8-inch thickness and chill on a baking sheet to help the dough stay flat. Chill for at least 20 minutes, or until the dough is firm enough to cut and lift cleanly without stretching.
Preheat your oven to 300° Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or spray with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Remove your dough from the fridge, and cut the dough into leaf shapes with a paring knife. Each "leaf" should be about 2 inches long and 1 inch wide. If you have one, a leaf shaped cookie cutter would be your best bet.
Place your leaves onto your prepared pans about 1/2 an inch apart. Very gently score a center vein into your tea leaf, if you wish. You have to work quickly, because you don't want to work with dough that is too soft. If your dough softens up too much, place it back in the fridge to cool for a few minutes.
Bake the cookies for around 15 minutes, or until the cookies take on a dry, powdery look and are firm. Cook on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, and then transfer them to cool completely on a wire rack. Keep the cookies stored in an airtight container at room temperature. These cookies should be good for about a week. You can also freeze them, to make them last longer.
If you prepare the cookies right, then your cookies should look like the ones pictured on the left. These are a tasty treat for any tea party.
Green tea is one of the better teas out there. It is rich in all kinds of amazing health benefits, and it is one of the oldest beverages known to mankind! That, alone, is pretty amazing!
With amazing flavors, a rich history, and an abundance of health benefits, it is no wonder that green tea is a beverage that will remain popular for many more centuries to come.
I hope you guys enjoyed this installment of the Identifying Teas journey! Stay tuned for the next one, where we will be discussing Oolong teas!
Remember, there is a great big world of tea out there, and together we can explore every last inch of it!
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