What kind of fancy green tea might I like from Art of Tea?
September 21, 2022 8:44 PM   Subscribe

I often drink a cup of plain green tea in the mornings. Up till now that's always been bagged green tea from the grocery store, but after hearing KatherineOfSky saying how much she likes the tea from Art of Tea I'm interested in giving a fancy loose leaf tea a try. They have several kinds of green tea, does anybody have any recommendations for a good tea to start with?

I'm most interested in a green tea without other flavors added. (Though folks are welcome to recommend others (or even other places to buy from) if they want.)
posted by unus sum to Food & Drink (17 answers total)
For that kind of spending, I would stick to organic/fair trade teas. It doesn't look like Art of Tea does organic/fair trade. Organic/fair trade is fancy by default.
posted by aniola at 8:50 PM on September 21

I'd go for the Eisai's Choice Sencha. If it's as good as they claim, it will be nicely vegetal and you should be able to brew it two or three times.
posted by zadcat at 8:53 PM on September 21

I don't see one for green teas from Art of Tea, but I'd recommend getting samples. They'll be more useful than we can be in helping you figure out what you like.

Teavivre has lots of different sample packs, but shipping might take a while.

Are there any tea stores near you?
posted by Akhu at 9:02 PM on September 21

I’m not familiar with Art of Tea specifically, but I’d stick to their Japanese teas because based on the images of the Chinese teas on the site, they don’t look that good to me. I look for hand rolled, homogenous size and shape when I look at Chinese teas. It’s a labor intensive sort of tea and these things make a difference when you steep them since you want the leaves to steep at the same rate for an even brew for all the same reasons you would want an even grind on coffee beans.
posted by limbicdigest at 9:02 PM on September 21

Dude, I'm with aniola. If you can get some good organic fair trade, why not do that?

It's fine if you just want to try something without overthinking it once in a while, though.

However, I found this very promising green tea sampler for $15 that looks really promising.

*** The temperature of the water you brew with matters *** Green tea should be brewed at 160-180 Fahrenheit. It will be much less bitter that way. If you want to splurge, there are variable temperature electric kettles out there in the world :)
posted by amtho at 9:52 PM on September 21

Forgot the link: organic fair-trade Chinese green tea sampler

Organic Japanese green tea sampler, which has my favorites: sencha, genmaicha (contains toasted rice - really nice for variety), kukicha, hojicha.

Aside from that, I'm a huge fan of a gently-brewed sencha or dragonwell.
posted by amtho at 10:20 PM on September 21 [1 favorite]

Jasmine tea is a green tea. Bee and Flower in the blue can, (not the green,) is the best of them.
posted by Oyéah at 10:43 PM on September 21

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! I will likely look further afield based on your input. I like the idea of a sampler of some kind.
posted by unus sum at 11:05 PM on September 21

The two green teas I like best are genmai cha (has popped rice kernels in it, and a unique rice + tea flavor) and Jasmine tea. I've had both from Art of Tea and they're pretty good but most tea companies get these right.

There's also Oolong which is like halfway between green and black tea.

If you want more flavor there are a lot of good blends at August Teas and they sell sample sizes at good prices.
posted by mmoncur at 11:52 PM on September 21

Green tea is a very wide category, with an incredibly wide range of fanciness levels.

If you want a very grassy and fresh tasting green tea, I would go with a Japanese sencha. This is a first flush green tea with no oxidation at all. The longjing/dragon well would be similar I think.

If you want something with a bit “darker” flavor, a green oolong (e.g. jade ti quan yin) is very nice, but good quality oolongs can really start getting up there in price.

Another option is a hojicha, which is roasted and so brews up a bit browner and has some toasty flavors but still no oxidation.

Ultimately you should try a bunch of stuff and see what you like. Remember that different teas brew for different times and with different ratios of tea to water. Most fancy Chinese and Japanese teas are meant to be steeped with a high tea-to-water ratio for a short period of time and then reused repeatedly. The fancier the tea, the more steepings you can get generally.
posted by goingonit at 4:21 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]

Also, I wouldn’t worry about fair trade certification for high end green tea. Picking tea is certainly backbreaking labor but the vast majority of this tea is produced for domestic consumption, this isn’t a trade exploitation situation like coffee or chocolate (or tea in India or Kenya), and certainly the owner of a tea estate has pricing power in the price ranges we’re talking about. Another big difference with tea is that generally processing is done on site (you have to arrest oxidation right away) and so the estate is selling the finished product rather than a bulk commodity.
posted by goingonit at 4:32 AM on September 22 [3 favorites]

Note that the OP actually did link to The Art Of Tea's menu....

You say that you don't like "tea with added flavors". Luckily, that menu page shows a lot of pictures of the tea leaves themselves, so you can see what's in it. If you don't like added flavors, I'd avoid teas where the leaves show "extra stuff" - although, the Sencha Cherry Blossom might be a nice exception, since I think the "added flavor" would be subtle. (On the other end of the spectrum: I'd avoid "Happy Tea" because I don't know what the hell all that extra lumpy red stuff is.)

Someone else mentioned genmai, which I'm partial to - it smells a lot like popcorn because of the puffed rice in it, but that doesn't translate to the taste.

Nthing the suggestion to get a sampler somewhere - or maybe look for a tea shop in your area, they often have some stuff brewed up for you to taste-test and would be happy to offer suggestions. (And in my experience, they'll be delightful and welcoming and happy to see you.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:36 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]

Looking at your previous Asks, you may be nearish to Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco, which I believe offers in-person tea tasting. I've gotten a fair amount of tea from them and like it, although I'm not actually sure if I've tried their green teas.

They also sell a green tea sampler box intended to replicate a in-person tasting, although it's somewhat spendy.
posted by wesleyac at 5:24 AM on September 22

I like gunpowder/pearl green tea. Lots of rich flavor, a little more caffeine, and the brewing experience is fun to watch because the rolled leaves unfurl themselves as they steep. It's always been my favorite type of green tea.
posted by phunniemee at 5:26 AM on September 22 [3 favorites]

Highly reccommend Bana Tea Company

They specialize in pu-erh teas but have a nice selection of non pu-erh teas. My favorite is the Dragon Buds Jasmine geen tea, but the Green Spiral Spring green tea is lovely, too. The Genmaicha is some of the best I've had.

If you like green tea, you should explore white tea, then try some oolong.

Bana Tea Company is strictly on line but the owner is super knowlegeable and would be able to answer questions and make suggestions if you reach out.

Have fun! Really good loose leaf tea is almost life changing!
posted by socrateaser at 6:40 AM on September 22

Dragonwell, gunpowder or sencha would be my choice, in that order. I don't like hot fruity teas so the lemon or passionfruit is right out.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:09 AM on September 22

I recently found an organic gunpowder green tea in the bulk section of a local store and it is everything I want in a green tea. Plus, as phunniemee says, it's fun to watch the little balls of tea unfurl!
posted by Ochre,Hugh at 8:29 AM on September 23

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