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Green tea is a made with the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant family (there are various cultivars). Leaf processing starts with the harvest. Which style of green tea is being made determines when and how harvesting is done. For example, longjing is harvested in early Spring and consists of leaf bud sets.
The leaves are withered, letting a lot of the moisture go out of them and making them limp. Then the leaf enzyme is destroyed by briefly frying in a large wok or roasting in a special oven. This allows a small amount of oxidation to occur in the leaves, making the infused liquid yellow-hued. The tea leaves are usually formed into curls, flat needles, or other traditional shapes. The color of the dry green tea can range from a light green to yellowish green for green tea that is primarily fried in a wok, to a dark green for green tea that is primarily roasted in an oven.
The leaves of premium Chinese green teas are even and unbroken, with good color and a slight shine from their natural oils. There should be a noticeable and pleasant fragrance. The infused liquid is a vibrant color with good clarity. The leaf configuration is either one bud, one bud and one leaf, or one bud and two leaves. The leaves when infused should look exactly as they did when plucked.
Varieties of green teas can differ substantially due to variable growing conditions, processing, and harvesting time. We carry a selection of the better known ones.