How to make green tea – from cultivation to processing

All tea leaves start off life green. In the summer, box after box of waxy leaves from our tea fields arrive at our factory, ready to be made into black, green, white or oolong tea. No matter the tea, the starting point is always the same – fresh Camellia sinensis leaves. It’s down to the tea master’s recipe to then craft them into the different types of tea that you know and love. If you’ve ever wondered how to make green tea, read on. 

What is green tea?

Before we look at how to make green tea, let’s go back to basics. Green tea is generally lighter than oolong or black teas and is known for its mellow, sometimes grassy flavour. Although it’s been enjoyed in China for thousands of years, green tea has become more popular throughout the world both for its taste and health benefits. Green tea is known to have a high antioxidant content.

How is green tea grown and harvested?

At our tea farm, the rows of tea bushes are a hub of activity throughout the summer as tea  pluckers pick fresh tea leaves. For green tea, it’s especially important that they select only the young, tender leaves. These are then sorted back at the factory and Hannes and Tomas decide which type of tea to make. The leaves need to be processed quickly to preserve their freshness and flavour. It’s quite remarkable how many types of teas and tastes can be coaxed from the humble tea leaf. 

For tea plants to grow as many healthy, fresh leaves as possible to make green tea, they need well-draining soil, typically at high altitudes in warm, humid climates. It’s important that the bushes get plenty of water and are protected from strong winds and extreme temperatures. Last summer, the intense temperatures burned some of our bushes so the leaves were unusable.

green tea fields

Our tea fields, where we pluck leaves to make green tea (and all our other types too). 

How is green tea made?

The first step in processing green tea is to wither the leaves, which helps to remove excess moisture and make them more pliable. Unlike black tea, green tea isn’t oxidised. Instead, the leaves are quickly heated either by pan firing, steaming or roasting to prevent oxidisation from occurring. This process helps to preserve the natural compounds in the leaves, including the antioxidants, which are thought to contribute to the potential health benefits of green tea.

Every tea master will have their own way of making green tea. Most will have many recipes even – Hannes and Tomas have around 5 recipes for different green teas, and many more if you include all their experiments. 

But, if you think it's as easy as making a recipe... it's not! No recipe is written in stone. Why? Well, every batch of tea leaves that comes into the factory is different – if it's been raining the leaves behave differently compared to batches picked on a sunny morning. And that, is why tea making is really an art rather than a science.  

As a general rule of thumb, most green teas are withered 2-3 hours and rolled for 20 to 50 minutes. But as a tea master, you sometimes have to throw the rule book out the window. For example, one of our Green Velvet batches was withered for 4.5 hours. Our recipes are at the mercy of the leaves and the weather! 

Check out our blog on how to make tea here, if you’re interested in learning more about tea making in detail. 

making green tea

Tomas hard at work making tea in our factory.

So you’ve learned how to make green tea, but how do you drink it?

Well, you prepare it much like any other tea, by steeping around 3g of leaves for 3-4 minutes. The most important thing to remember is not to use boiling water. The ideal temperature is usually around 85 degrees centigrade – just hot enough to extract the flavours from the tea leaves, but not so hot that it scorches them, turning your tea bitter.

As a general rule of thumb, the longer the tea steeps, the stronger the flavour will be. 

Each green tea has its own distinct flavour and every tea maker must go on a long journey of discovering how to make green tea. Our Green Velvet is vegetal and floral whilst Renegade Life has nutty, roasted flavours with hints of sweetness. So this is your hint to give green tea a chance if you haven’t already, you may be surprised! Learn more about the green teas we make, here.

If you are in Germany: Sie können grünen Tee hier kaufen.