The History of Green Tea

At NOVELTEA, we’re passionate about all things tea, and green tea forms the foundation upon which an entire tea-drinking culture was born.  That’s why we just had to include a green tea-based Tale in our range.  Combining the pure, leafy flavour of Chinese green tea, fresh Moroccan mint and sweet Caribbean rum, The Tale of Tangier evokes warm climes and a romantic sense of adventure.

What is Green Tea?

Green tea is tea in its simplest form.  It’s where Oolong and black tea start, before they’re processed and oxidised and turned into the teas that form the basis of our Tale of Oolong and Tale of Earl Grey.

Dating back 3000 years, when Chinese farmers first added leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant to boiling water, the early development of the whole tea industry began with the simple techniques that helped make green tea the naturally refreshing beverage still loved the world over.

The History of Green Tea

Legend has it that Chinese Emperor Shennong – mythological Chinese deity and sage ruler of prehistoric China – first discovered tea quite by accident.  During one of his travels, when his convoy stopped to rest, a breeze carried a handful of tea leaves from a burning twig on a nearby fire into his warming cup of water. Unnoticed by the emperor, he found his drink to be extremely refreshing, and after further investigation requested that his entourage gather more leaves for the journey ahead.

As far as the history books are concerned, whilst the cultivation of green tea in China for medicinal purposes goes back further, it’s not until the early Tang Dynasty (600-900) that records show green tea being drunk for pleasure.

It was during this time that “Cha Jing”, or “The Classic of Tea”, was written by Lu Yu.  A milestone in Chinese literature, it focused on the art of green tea drinking, and is considered one of the first all-inclusive explorations of tea culture as a whole.

This period also the first development of formal tea ceremonies, when limited access to the utensils needed meant that green tea consumption became a symbol of societal status.

How is Green tea made?

Once picked, tea leaves immediately begin to oxidise.  Whilst encouraged in blacker teas, this process needs to be prevented with green tea in order to keep the fresh, ‘greenness’ of the flavour intact.

The best way to do this, and the way that’s still in use throughout the world today, is steaming the tea.  Originating in China in the 8th century, steaming halts the natural breakdown of the leaves, ensuring they can be stored and transported without losing any of their inherent flavour and colour.

Over the centuries, Chinese tea masters have introduced baking and roasting as an alternative method of ‘fixing’ the leaves, and today many of the most prestigious Chinese green teas are steamed and quickly pan fried in a large wok on a high heat.

What does Green Tea Taste Like?

Green tea is famous for its fresh, floral flavour.  It can taste of everything from newly-cut grass to steamy swamps, with possible fruity, nutty and even buttery notes. Steamed green teas tend to taste bittersweet, whilst other green teas are sweeter.

What is Green Mint Tea?

NOVELTEA’s Tale of Tangier evokes the warm, sweet air of a Moroccan evening, the scent of fresh mint tea drifting through the thronging streets.

Traditional Moroccan mint tea, also known as Maghrebi mint tea, is a green tea traditional throughout Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania, and now popular across North Africa.

Although proportions and preparation can vary from region to region, the essential ingredients of Maghrebi mint tea are green tea, fresh spearmint leaves, sugar, and boiling water.

The Culture of Moroccan Mint Tea

Mint tea plays a key role in the social and cultural lives of the people of Morocco.  The preparation and serving of the tea is an artform, passed down from generation to generation, and is central to a shared tea-drinking experience that perfectly signifies hospitality and friendship.

Atai, or the preparation of the tea, is a formal ceremony, often performed in front of guests.

A couple of teaspoons of tea-leaf are added to the pot along with a small quantity of boiling water. This water will capture ‘the spirit of the tea’; a strong, clear flavour that will add complexity to the final brew.

After approximately 30 seconds, the water is poured out and put to one side, and then replaced with fresh boiling water.  This second steeping often capture the bitterness of the leaves, and is discarded after a minute or so. Mint and sugar are then added, along with the final batch of boiling water, and allowed to steep for a further three to five minutes.

Served in small glasses, the tea is only considered ready to drink once it’s topped by a foam.  Pouring the tea from a ceremonial teapot with a long, curved spout, from a height of no less than 12 inches, causes a natural foam to form – if it doesn’t, the tea needs to steep for longer, and so is returned to the pot.  When ready, the water from the intial steeping can be added back to the tea to add a rich depth.

Traditionally, the tea is served three times. Each steeping produces a unique flavour, as described in the famous Maghrebi proverb:

  • The first glass is as gentle as life,
  • The second is as strong as love,
  • The third is as bitter as death.

NOVELTEA’s Tale of Tangier

The  Tale of Tangier is a premium blend of Green Mint Tea with White Caribbean Rum. Delivering exotic fruit and floral citrus note, the adventurous allure of the Rum jostles with the more relaxed sweet Moroccan Mint.

2019-06-28T13:50:51+01:00June 28th, 2019|Stories|