Green tea has gotten quite a bit of a bum rap; ironically it can be traced at least in part to the perception of green tea being a ‘healthy drink’. Many vendors seizing our proclivity to embrace health claims- hey who doesn’t want to live longer, I know I do- and flood the market with low grade, poorly made varieties and play up the health benefits of it.
Towards this line of marketing my sentiments range from annoyance to disgust, not because there are no health benefits of tea but it implies that tea, in particular green tea is not worthy to be consumed on its own gastronomic merit.
Furthermore when you tout any product as a ‘weight-loss tea’ or ‘beautifying tea’ or whatever the marketers conjure up, you create certain expectations for the product- sometimes unfair if not unattainable expectations. You may be left with someone panning the product for its failure to deliver its purported benefits but overlooking the gourmet qualities of the tea altogether.
I am not about to argue for or against the health benefits of tea- that is best left for a separate post- rather the attraction of green tea and spoiler alert- the health aspects are not the main draw.
One of the most important characteristic of green tea- at least quality green tea- is ‘hui gan’, a sweet aftertaste that wells up from the throat and lingers in the mouth, what we like to translate as ‘recurring sweetness’ on our site.
This characteristic is in my opinion the biggest allure of green tea. While other categories of tea too have ‘hui gan’ to a certain extent, the lighter, subtler nature of green emphasizes if not accentuates the delight of ‘hui gan’.
After you have consumed a Wuyi Yancha for example, the lingering aroma is a joy on its own and often competes for affection with the ‘hui gan’ whereas the lingering aroma of green tea is often subtler and hence the drinker’s attention is wholly fixated on the ‘hui gan’.
While green tea may be consumed a bit more absent-mindedly compared to oolong which demands your full attention, the lingering ‘hui gan’ will remind you of what a high quality tea (or lack thereof) you just consumed.
Hence while there are some who deride green tea as insipid, bland or boring- I would reckon it is just appreciated in a different fashion than black tea for example. While black tea has a strong aroma, the fragrance of green tea is gentler. While the taste of black tea is more readily discernible, green tea is subtler. But the charm of green tea shines through when the ‘hui gan’ returns to reward and soothe, longer than any fragrance or flavor.
That to me is the allure of green tea- at least quality green tea.
*Note- if all that lingers in your mouth after you finished your cup of green tea is bitterness and astringency, odds are you are drinking a low-grade variety.