Tea: Comparing Ceylon Green Teas To Indian Green Teas
Most of the world’s green tea is produced in China and Japan. In fact, China is where green tea originated.
Centuries ago, before other tea processing methods were developed, tea harvesters simply dried tea leaves in the sun before storing them, and this is how green tea was born. It gained favor quickly in this part of the world.
Even after black tea processing began, it didn’t outsell green tea.
Today, green tea is still a very popular beverage choice. In Asia, green tea is still by far more commonly consumed than other tea varieties, and most of the green tea we drink in the Western world is produced in China or Japan.
However, we should not discount Sri Lanka and India when it comes to green tea. Both countries produce very good green tea with very distinct flavors. Green teas from Sri Lanka and India are not as common as Asian green teas, and, in fact, many people don’t even realize that these countries produce green teas. However, one taste of Ceylon or Indian green teas and you’ll likely want more.
Ceylon teas are grown in Sri Lanka. Tea is grown in the highlands of Sri Lanka, over an area of about four thousand square miles. Ceylon green teas have a full body and are somewhat pungent with a nutty or malty flavor. Ceylon green teas have a very bright and bold flavor.
The leaves are darker before brewing and brew a darker liquor, that is richer than most Asian green teas. Most Ceylon green teas are named using the same system as Chinese teas, with leaf shapes like gunpowder, etc.
Today, Ceylon is considered a fairly minor green tea producer. However, as the demand for green tea grows, it’s likely that more green tea will be produced in Sri Lanka. For those who are accustomed to Chinese and Japanese green teas, Ceylon tea may be a surprise because its flavor is so different.
India produces two varieties of green tea, Assam and Darjeeling. Both of these teas have distinct flavors and qualities and both are gaining popularity.
Assam teas are grown in the northeast part of India, along the border to Burma. Other than China, this region of India produces the most black tea in the world each year, at more than 1,500,000 pounds per year. Assam green tea is fairly new to the market, but is gaining market quickly. Assam green tea is typically medium bodied tea that is very flavorful. Like Assam black teas, Assam greens are malty and have definite notes of honey flavor.
Typically an Assam green tea will brew up with no bitterness whatsoever, making it a good choice for novice green tea drinkers. Black Assam teas are used more often in blends than as single teas, but Assam greens are not as often blended.
Darjeeling green teas are grown at altitudes of 4,000-10,000 feet above sea level, where it is cool and there is almost always a mist. It is the altitude at which Darjeeling is grown, the cool mist and the perfect drainage of the soil here that produces a tea with a distinctively muscadine flavor. Many people describe Darjeeling as being a very relaxing tea.
Darjeeling black teas are highly prized by the British and are considered to be one of their favorite afternoon teas. In fact, it was the British who began the first tea colonies in India, in order to compete with Asian tea production.
The Darjeeling region of India has become synonymous with tea production. In fact, many tourists take a ride up the Himalayan railway to Darjeeling just to take a peek at the beautiful tea gardens that can be found there.
Darjeeling is one of the biggest tea producing regions in the world, but only a small percentage of the tea produced there is green tea. Darjeeling green tea is very different from teas grown anywhere else in the world. It is milder than black Darjeeling tea and has a flowery bouquet.
Darjeeling green tea is a very nice combination of the grassy flavor of a traditional green, but with the Muscat flavor that characterizes all Darjeeling teas. When brewed it is a much paler tea than Darjeeling black tea, with an amber color and a fragrant aroma.
Because both India and Sri Lanka are rather new to green tea production and produce far less green tea than Asia, you may have some difficulty finding Ceylon and Indian green teas. However, they are gaining popularity and will become easier to find. Today, there are a handful of tea purveyors in the United States that carry these varieties of green tea.
If you’ve been unsatisfied with the flavor of Asian green teas, you may have come to the conclusion that you’re simply not a green tea drinker.
However, before you give up on green tea, which is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink, give Ceylon or Indian green teas a try. They may be a bit hard to find, but when you do, they are certainly worth the trouble.