Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Green Tea and China

I have some Fall knitting to show you, but first here's a quick post on green tea, the second in my series on the teas of China. You can read about Chinese Chrysanthemum tea here.

If you don't like green tea I suspect it's because you haven't tried the right kind. At least that was the case for me. It wasn't until our trip to China while waiting about in the Shanghai airport that I discovered how delicious a really good green tea could be. I had ordered a spicy bowl of noodles and at the last minute decided to try a green tea with my meal. The tea was brought over to our table in a french press (just like the one pictured above) with the leaves still swirling about and after one savory sip I was hooked.

I had tried green tea before, but had found it bitter and not at all similar to the rich savory brew I was drinking. I have since learned that the reason for this is that green tea is rather like wine. There are multiple varieties and the price can range from cheap to $$$. If a green tea doesn't specify what type of green tea it is, then it's a sure bet it's not one of the better varieties. One of the best varieties of green tea is "dragon well" but be warned the quality varies considerably. After my lunch I went immediately into an airport gift shop and bought a pricey tin of what I believe is a dragon well tea from the Ganchun tea Company. I can't be certain because I don't speak Chinese and they didn't speak English but I did pay a fortune so it must be the good stuff, right? I have enjoyed every sip and felt the money was well spent.

Turns out, though, you need to pay close attention when making a green tea to enjoy it as its best. A french press is perfect for green tea because it should be brewed in glass or porcelain so as not to taint the flavor. You can also immerse the leaves up to three times by simply adding more hot water, but the water should never be boiling. If you are interested in how to properly brew dragon well tea, I found this video on Walker Tea Reviews very interesting and helpful.


Whether you are enjoying a green or black tea, you can never go wrong with a slice of my Almond Delight Cake (pictured above). It's simple to make, moist, and has a rich almond flavor and is perfect for when you have last minute company! You can find the recipe in the post Is it Time for Tea?

Chinese Door Gods


Along with food and knitting I like to share some of the culture of places we have visited. You have probably seen the above images whether in a movie or magazine as they are ubiquitous in China. They are known as "Door Gods" and I learned their story over lunch when I asked our host to explain their significance.

Apparently the first Emperor of the Tang Dynasty had a nightmare that he was going to be killed while he slept. The next day he had two warriors placed outside his bed chamber to stand guard overnight. No harm came to him and it became the custom in China to paint these warriors on door fronts as a warning and to protect the occupants from harm.

China is a very mystical land with a long and rich history that is undergoing a period of tremendous change. The juxtaposition between the old and new culture is fascinating to see. Even the most sophisticated Chinese business people still believe that amulets bring power and luck to the wearer and I was given a jade bracelet to bring me prosperity and good luck. Come to think of it, where did I put that bracelet anyway? I could use a little good luck these days!

Until next time, be well and love well, and try a cup of green tea ~ it is good for your health ~ and that's not a myth.

26 comments:

Andrea said...

That's really interesting about the doors. I've never been to China, but I definitely love a good cup of tea.

raining sheep said...

I love a great cup of green tea. I buy mine from Silk Road teas in Victoria on Vancouver Island. The two women who own the store are trained tea masters. Their many teas are so wonderful. They have a sour cherry green tea - it is heavenly. No cherries in it, just the flavour of the tea is so unusual, hence the name.

t does wool said...

interesting bits about China,Claudia...and french pressed tea...clever~! green tea is good for you...yes!

Allie said...

I love green tea - I've never tried it this way though, I'll have to get a french press! Although, I have heard that green tea is good for thickening the blood, and that people who are on aspirin therapy shouldn't drink it. I need to ask my doctor more about that, if he knows.
I love reading about the beliefs and lifestyles and history of lands I'll never get to visit. That is interesting about the door gods!

Denise said...

Lovely post Claudia and so interesting. I haven't had many teas since I tried them last year (or was it the year before that? time goes by so fast). It's raining a lot today and poured heavily here yesterday, which we so need. It's a lovely cozy day to stay home and brew a cup ;)
Can't wait to see what you've been knitting.
hugsx

Channon said...

Find that bracelet!! ;)

And yes... good green tea requires some extra care, but it's SO worth it. I still haven't found a red tea I can even take a second sip of though...

Renee said...

I'll have to give green tea another try, I've never enjoyed it. Using the French press is such a great idea! Thanks for the info Claudia!

Kathleen said...

I love trying out different kinds of tea. I'll definitely give some these a go!!! Thank you for the ideas :0)

pencraftco said...

We love green tea! We buy ours online from a couple of different specialty shops, but the quality has gone downhill at our favorite spot recently. Have you heard of any good online sources? Thanks!

gMarie said...

Oh I love your little silver teapot in the first photo. Sounds like you had quite the trip.

I recently read about those teas in the fluffy little books I'm reading. Thanks for sharing more information. g

Katherine said...

I love green tea both hot and cold and keep a pitcher of it in the fridge. My son mowed our lawn last week and when he finished I asked if he would like a glass of iced tea. He said he thought that would be wonderful since it was over 100 degrees outside, but when he took the first big drink the look on his face was priceless. Unsweetened green tea--that's the way I like it. To his credit he swallowed it but immediately added a LOT of sugar and didn't finish the whole glass. I've trained him well because he just said, "Interesting tea Mom!"

Thanks for a great post!

Rainy Daisy said...

How interesting! I've never liked the grassiness of green tea - I drink it with sushi, but no where else, really. I'd like to understand it better. This helps :) Thanks!

Cheers,
Daisy

At Home Mommy Knits said...

Thanks for all the green tea advice. I am one of those people who gulps it down because it's good for you but I don't really like it. I am going to be taking your advice and shopping around!

Anita said...

Wonderful post, I enjoyed reading it.

And couldn't we all use a little prosperity and good luck these days? I think I need one of those bracelets too. :)

KnittySue said...

China facinates me in terms of their history and culture (I lived in Japan as a child) I would love to visit the wonders of that country some day but I'd have to be there a month or more to take it in..:)
I'm a coffee drinker and chug gallons of ice tea (homemade) in the summer..but green tea...I've never been able to aquire a taste for it...but I do like the tea they serve at the Chinese resturants.
Can't wait to see more from your trip.

Kate (KnitsInClass) said...

Finding the right green tea really is the key to enjoying it - I used to think I didn't like it (for the same reasons you listed) and then (years later) tried a better blend and have found I really like it.
I'm going to have to try brewing in my French press!

Rebekah said...

I love tea, but am not a green tea fan, probably because I've never tried the good stuff. I'll have to keep my eyes open for it. Wonder what I did with our french press.

subliminalrabbit said...

YUM! curious - how do you feel about genmaicha?

bryan's dad goes to china often for work and brought me back two tins of lovely tea leaves... and although i honestly have no idea what it is, i brewed some up this weekend and i think it's an oolong. a lovely, lovely oolong.

(thank you so much for your kind note about cole. so. hard. i know you know...)

Tracy said...

Those doors are a WONDER, Claudia! I love green tea. But for years I didn't like, until like yourself, finally had a good experience drinking quality tea prepared just right. This french press method is lovely--great way to do this! Drinking loose leaf tea taken time to prepare is so worth the time compared to a mash of leaves in a bag. Though there are good bagged teas, I just prefer the loose tea. Love you tea time posts, my friend. Cheers! :o) Happy Weekend ((HUGS))

Hilary said...

It's so true what you say about green tea! There is a huge difference between the good stuff and the cheap stuff. I'm lucky that the first green tea I tried was the good stuff...inspired by an artsy guy at work I had a crush on back in my UCLA days, I went to a tea store and asked for recommendations. I ended up going home with Genmaicha, the stuff with puffed rice in it. I can still remember the exact taste! Anyway, I loved reading about your green tea experience in China...and the cup you had with your spicy noodles sounds delicious! Thanks also for the story behind the Chinese door gods...so interesting!

Ally Johnston said...

I think you are so right about finding the right Green Tea, and it is such a pleasure to take time out to enjoy the whole ritual of it. Of course for me having simething to knit justs completes the picture. Great post.

Knitting Out Loud said...

LOVED this post!!! Late summer was hectic here and I have missed your blog...

Just printed out the delicious looking almond cake recipe.

Tea is the only thing to drink in the afternoon. For historical reasons, both Eastern and Western, if for no other. I love feeling connected to other cultures, as well as to our own past, through food

betty said...

I love green tea. My current favorite is this green tea infused with a lychee fragrance. I also use a press to make my tea. My one complaint about the press is that the tea does not stay hot for very long. I did purchase a double-layered press that kept the tea hot, but it was too fragile and cracked. I'm thinking I should knit a cozy, or actually a sleeve, for my press.

Larissa said...

You are so right about how each variety of tea tastes so different - I find the same to be true for black tea as well. I don't own a french press but now I'm thinking i should look into getting one. And your almond delight cake looks so good - i also enjoy biscotti with my tea. Thank you for sharing this from your vacation with us - i'm so glad to be back in blogland.

knittingdragonflies said...

Thanks for the interesting facts about green tea and the door gods! I use a french press for coffee, but never tried it with tea!
The Almond delight cake looks like it would be the perfect combo with a cup of tea.
I'm ready for cooler days to really enjoy the combo!
Vicki

Joni said...

I also bought a tin of Ganchun Tea company tea and it is lovely. I have no idea what kind as it is in Chinese. I have been trying to find someplace online to buy it but have not been successful.