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Where to get great green tea? (and what kind?)

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I'm trying to convert my daily hot-beverage-of-choice from coffee to green tea. I already like green tea, so that isn't a problem, but I do find the regular supermarket brands rather insipid. Where can I find great green tea, loose or bagged? I understand that loose is generally the way to go, but I'd also appreciate a rec for a good variety of bagged (in addition to the primary loose go-to) for the convenience of making it at the office.

I have access to good supermarkets, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods. I'd be happy to purchase online if that's the best way to go, too. I prefer straight-up green tea, sans other flavorings (peach, jasmine, etc.) Thanks!

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  1. I personally like Constant Comment's green tea. A good green tea flavor enhanced by the sweet spice of Constant Comment. I am sure true tea enthusiasts will look down their noses at it but this was the one green tea that actually got me to kick my coffee and extra strong brewed earl grey habits.

    Link: http://www.bigelowtea.com/shop/detail...

    2 Replies
    1. re: foodiex2

      Genmai cha is my favorite green tea and is favored by my ex-husband and his family who are Japanese. This tea comes loose in foil sealed bags. I prefer to make my tea in a tea pot, but I digress.
      We ended every dinner at home with a mug of green tea.
      My ex-husbands father told us that the green tea plant was the only vegetation that survived the bombings in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. He grinds the tea into a powder and shakes it on his food. He's in his late 80's now and still healthy and active. I haven't researched whether or not his claims are accurate.

      Link: http://www.adagio.com/green/genmai_ch...

      1. re: Tea Girl

        Genmai cha has roasted rice and sometimes barley (Korean style) mixed with the green tea leaves. It's great hot and cold. Not sure if there is a Pete's Coffee around your area, if so they have good teas. Sometimes I buy my teas from CoffeeAM.

        Link: http://www.coffeeam.com/greetea.html

    2. Upton Tea has a good selection of green teas. For Japanese green teas, the Special Grade Sencha is a good start. The really good ones can get pricey - it's worth buying a sample to see what you think about them.

      Another good Japanese green tea site:

      http://www.o-cha.com/

      Link: http://www.uptontea.com/shopcart/cata...

      1 Reply
      1. re: applehome

        I'll second the recommendation for Upton's. They have a great selection of teas, both green and black. I recently bought some of their gunpowder green tea and couldn't beleive how much better (non bitter) it was than what you get bagged in a grocery store.

      2. m
        Morton the Mousse

        Bagged tea will always be inferior to loose leaf. Tea producers use the "tea dust" that settles on the bottom of the tea pile and sell it to Americans at an enormous mark up. For convenience, you can buy loose leaf, buy empty tea bags and fill them yourself. A source for premium quality green tea is Teance, linked below.

        Link: http://www.teance.com/

        1 Reply
        1. re: Morton the Mousse

          I agree with Morton about bagged tea and I'm glad he suggested that you can buy the empty bags and fill they yourself.

          Once you start drinking green tea, none of the prebagged tea tastes like much of anything.

          Another nice tea source is Far Leaves Tea. Although it is not a green tea, the blood orange made with fresh blood oranges is amazing.

          Link: http://www.farleaves.com/

        2. If you have access to an Asian grocery store, you can find a great variety of green tea there.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Lori D

            Can you suggest how to coose among them? Varieties? Brands? Especially since not everything is in English, it's a bit intimidating. And even in the Asian supermarket I go to, the preponderance is in tea bags which I never buy.

            1. re: saucyknave

              The Foojoy brand is reliable and reasonably priced for quality. They have several varieties - Lung Ching (Dragonwell) is my personal favorite, butI have found none of their various green teas undrinkable. In general, I prefer the flavor of Chinese green tea - which brews up to a nice golden brown color - to the grassier tastes of Japanese green teas. These are so much better tasting than any American bagged green teas I've tried. I also use them to make sun tea, which is what I'm drinking as I type this. Note that Foojoy has teas in a variety of price ranges and they will sometimes offer more than one grade of tea with the same name. Personally, I opt for the regular grade Lung Ching instead of the more expensive premium.

              Good drinking

              ed

              1. re: saucyknave

                Japanese friends have told me that, when you don't know how to choose tea, the quality improves as the price increases. I've found that I'm usually happy with tea that isn't the cheapest one in the store, although I don't need to buy the most expensive one.

                A variety I like (that's mentioned elsewhere in this thread) is genmaicha - green tea with roasted rice. However, the cheaper brands tend to be alot of rice with almost no tea.

                Sencha is the most commonly seen variety of Japanese green tea.

                You may see a variety called bancha - this can be translated as "cheap tea." It's not undrinkable, but it's not great, either.

                Shincha, or "new tea" (newly harvested tea) is great, but probably not too easy to find in the US.

                Maeda-en is a pretty reliable Japanese brand that I've seen in Japanese and Korean stores. I generally buy Japanese tea, but friends tell me that Ten Ren(Chinese) is also good. I've seen that in both Vietnamese and Chinese stores.

                Also, you mentioned that not everything is in English. If you look carefully at the package (i.e., on the back side), you should find a label in English. I think that's required when food is imported into the US.

                Experiment and see what you like, and have fun with it.

                1. re: saucyknave

                  Thanks. I'll check these out next time I go to the Asian Grocery.

              2. Here's a link to a really good web tea vendor. Their green teas are excellent and their website offers lots of info. And if you're ever in San Francisco, you can visit their shops in Chinatown and in The Ferry Building Marketplace.

                Link: http://www.imperialtea.com