In ancient China, tea was used as both food and as a way to maintain good health. Tea was originally described as “bitter sprouts” in the old language. All teas were considered good for health purposes, first cultivated by the Taoists functioning as physicians in the tea gardens of their monasteries. The terms of green tea, black tea and oolong tea did not exist in the ancient Chinese language because all teas were green tea by today’s definition.
Natural green tea drink has an astringent taste, perhaps a little “bitter,” to those not used to it. The taste of the green tea harvested from the same plantation is influenced by weather, which determines the ratios of the various kinds of chemicals, such as the polyphenols, or cathechins, in the tea leaves. We cannot control the weather. Therefore, no one can really fix the taste of green tea from year to year like one can for the taste of certain brand-named black teas and woolong teas whose tastes are largely determined by a manufacturing process, called oxidation or “fermentation”, which can be controlled. In chemical terms, dried young leaves freshly harvested from the tea trees cultivated as they were 2,000 years ago should have the following qualities: