9 Best Green Tea 2023: Chinese Or Japanese Tea?

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Green tea has such a rich, ancient history stretching back so far that the origins are a bit of a mystery, steeped in legends. Of course, the result of that long history and centuries of cultivation, there are now hundreds of green tea varieties, blends, and brands for you to choose from. Let’s take a closer look at what they actually are before you find out how to pick the best green tea.

What is Green Tea?

Green tea is produced mostly in China and Japan from the same tea leaves as the black tea you may be used to. Once the leaves and buds are picked, by machine or hand, they’re fired or steamed immediately to stop them oxidizing. By firing or steaming them at a high temperature, this “fixes” the leaves and stops the enzymes that would otherwise turn the leaves the brown/black color.

In terms of flavor, this keeps that fresh flavor of the leaves. Unlike the rich, full-bodied flavor of black tea, green tea is typically brighter, lighter and slightly bitter.

Firing the leaves is the typical Chinese method of processing green tea. It gives the tea a warmer flavor profile, sometimes with a woody or smoky notes. In Japan, they are steamed instead of being pan-fired. This enhances the grassy and fresh flavor, but it does tend to enhance the bright bitterness too.

More: A Complete List of Tea Flavors (Include green tea, white tea, jasmine tea, black tea, black tea, oolong tea and more)

history of green tea

If you follow back the legends, you’ll find that green tea was discovered quite by accident by a Chinese Emperor when tea leaves blew into his cup. The process of picking, drying, firing and then boiling the leaves into tea came later, but still, centuries before tea was consumed elsewhere in the world. Buddhist monks eventually brought tea to Japan somewhere between 589 and 618 AD, starting Japan’s love with the drink too.

After centuries of cultivation, these 2 countries now produce some, if not all, of the green teas in the world. Despite all those coming from one type of plant, they vary drastically in flavor, aroma, and texture, depending on how/where they’re grown and processed.

So, what does it mean for you? Put simply, it means that the world of green tea is vaster than you imagined and contains so much for you to explore.

Different Tea Shapes and What They Mean

Teabags – square, round or pyramid bags, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the tea within. Green tea in bags is crushed or chopped, or simply tea dust. This allows a quick infusion, but it’s not good. Even if a tea bag contains a delicious Sencha, it will never be as high quality as a loose-leaf!

More: Tea Bag vs. Loose-Leaf Tea

Gunpowder, pellets, and pearls – rolling and shaping green tea leaves into curls is a common practice for several varieties, particularly Chinese green teas. Some are rolled by hand, others by machine. Usually, the larger leaves are rolled and curled into pellets. This slightly crushes the structure of the leaves, so when they’re infused the slowly unfurl and allow the water to really infuse deep into the leaves, releasing the flavourful tea oils.

Needle shapes – leaves and buds can also be rolled into tight needle shapes. This protects the delicate buds within the leaves and is used for a variety of Chinese and Japanese tea types, like Maofeng. Just like the rolled pellet type leaves, they need space to unfurl so that the water can really infuse green tea to the center.

There are many other shapes, from the super flat and thin to the large pearl shapes. What makes these whole leaf green teas better than the cut or crushed tea is the size and consistency. The less surface area that’s exposed to oxygen, the more the leaves will be able to retain their flavor, including the delicate and subtle flavor notes that would be lost if the tea was chopped and sold in bags.

Types of Green Tea

These types and varieties are a great place to start. They’re widely considered the best because they’re most well-known. That doesn’t mean an unknown green tea variety will be of poor quality, but by starting out with these specific green teas, you’ll know you’re receiving something special.

Chinese Green Teas

They are loved around the world. Green tea is actually the most produced type in China. Traditionally the leaves and buds are pan-fired or roasted to fix them. This gives the tea liquor a lovely golden color and warm aroma.

Chinese Green Teas
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  • Biluochun green tea (Green Snail Spring) – the delicate fruity and floral green leaves harvested from the Jiangsu province are rolled into snail-shell shapes, similar to gunpowder.
  • Chun Mee green tea (Precious Eyebrow) – a bright and slightly acidic green tea with distinct toasted notes. Chun Mee tea leaves are slightly dusty and darker than most others. They produce a warmer, more golden than green liquor.
  • Gunpowder green tea – grown around China, it’s leaves are rolled into little pellets that resemble gunpowder. Many different teas grown in a variety of places around China can be rolled into Gunpowder.
  • Longjing green tea (Dragon Well) – grown in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, this tea is pan-fired for a gentle, mellow, sweet flavor with notes of nuttiness and fresh vegetables with a lasting aftertaste.
  • Lu’an Gua Pian green tea (Melon Seed) – the flat oval-shaped leaves (like melon seeds) brew with a full, sweet and fresh flavor.
  • Mao Feng green tea(Fur Peak) – produced in the Anhui Province, Mao Feng is typically light and summery with fruit notes. Once brewed, it’s very pale green.
  • Taiping Hou Kui green tea (Peaceful Monkey Leader) – this is a very famous type grown at the base of Huangshan in the Anhui Province. The leaves are long, thin, vibrant green, and very flat. They’re oven-baked for a smooth, creamy and sweet flavor.
  • Xinyang Maojian green tea (Fuzzy Tip) – produced in Xinyang, these furry young tips give a brisk cup of green liquor with grassy and nutty notes. It’s one of the most famous Chinese green teas.

Note: Some of the teas listed before can be blended with jasmine for better flavor, you can know more in our post: Best Jasmine Tea

Japanese Green Teas

Green tea is widely consumed in Japan, it’s traditional even if it hasn’t been around for as long as it in China. Here, the leaves are steamed after they’re picked. Typically, they are fresh, grassy and vegetal as the steam preserves those refreshing flavors.

Japanese Green Teas
Image Source: Tuula Vintage
  • Bancha green tea – the second flush of the iconic Sencha Japanese green tea (read more about that a little below) is called Bancha. It’s harvested at the end of the summer months, towards autumn and has a distinctive nutty, robust hay-like flavor with astringent notes.
  • Genmaicha green tea– together with toasted brown rice kernels, it creates a subtle, nutty green tea with a toasty edge and full-bodied feel. It has a unique savory edge that we love.
  • Gyokuro green tea – it is shade-grown, shielded from the sun, to create a smooth, light and complex flavor. It’s very high-grade and rich in healthy amino acids (read more about its health benefits below).
  • Hojicha green tea – unlike most Japanese green teas, this one is roasted. So, if you like Chinese green tea there’s a fair chance you’ll like this one too. It has a slightly smoky flavor and a mellow green body.
  • Kukicha green tea – this “twig tea” is made from the stalks of the plant, usually discarded after the leaves are harvested. It has a surprisingly sweet, creamy flavor with a refreshing mouthfeel.
  • Matcha green tea – made from green leaves that are powdered and then whisked into tea, rather than infused. It tastes rich, vegetal and a little bitter with a subtle sweetness.
  • Sencha green tea– grown and steamed in Japan for a sweet, grassy flavor and slightly thick texture. It’s one of the most popular!

While the best and most well-known teas are from China and Japan, there are also a handful of other green teas from around the world that you might be lucky enough to try, from Taiwan to Korea’s Ujeon. Check out the full list of their varieties and types in our Guide to Different Types of Tea.

These are classics that you can’t go wrong with (so long as you buy authentic teas from a trustworthy brand) and a great place to start as a beginner.

Note: If you’re a fan of matcha, check our recommendations here.

9 Best Green Tea 2022: Detailed Reviews

1. Nishi First Flush Sencha -Best Premium Green Tea for drinking

Nishi First Flush Sencha -Best Premium Green Tea for drinking
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If you are not already drawn by the name of this lushly sweet green tea, we bet you will be smitten after your first cup. Brisk and refreshing with a delightful bitter-sweetness, a greenish-golden color, and a deep umami flavor profile—Sencha derives its name from the age-old Chinese green tea “Jade Cloud.”

Nishi’s teas and botanicals are loved throughout Japan for their premium quality and commitment to natural harvesting methods and skilled cultivar selection. This organic green tea is Nishi’s signature asamushi-style sencha with an illuminating character that can only be obtained after the first flush.

The “first flush” describes the initial harvests of the spring when fresh tea buds come out, and tea plants are awakened from winter slumber. The bushes sprouting during this time yield the richest, most well-balanced teas.

To brew a perfect tea, add 1½ tablespoon of sencha to a cup (350ml) of water boiled at 160°F, and let it steep for about 1½ minutes. Alternatively, if you wish to brew the tea traditionally, use a Sencha to water ratio of 10g per 320ml of fluid. Steep the tea for 45 seconds after the 1st infusion and for 15 seconds after the second infusion.

However, you can experiment with the brew time to match your desired taste easily. Nishi recommends using a Kyusu teapot for a high-quality infusion.

2. The Tea Makers of London– Best Matcha Green Tea

The Tea Makers of London - Best Matcha Green Tea
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Award-winning U.K. tea brand “The Tea Makers of London” presents Japanese matcha powder made from the finest tea leaves grown in the Ise Bay area—Mie Prefecture region, Japan. The region is revered for its 800 years of tea leaves cultivation.

Research indicates matcha contains ten times more EGCG than other fine green teas. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) prevents genetic and cellular damage by defusing volatile molecules known as ‘free radicals.’ Regular consumption of matcha decreases your cholesterol levels while boosting your metabolism when consumed regularly.

Standard Grade Matcha Green Tea has a shiny bright green color and offers a fresh, vegetal fragrance. It is rich in healthy amino acids and can be added to cakes, pieces of bread, and ice creams for an enhanced flavor profile and color.

You can make matcha for multiple liquid consistencies. For instance, to make light tea add about 1.75g of powder to 75ml of freshly boiled water and to make a dense cup blend 3.75g of powder with 40ml of boiled water.

It is suggested to use a bamboo spatula to pour the powder into your matcha powder, and a bamboo whisk to blend the mixture. When you see enough foam forming, whisk at a moderate pace to generate finer bubbles.

3. Bigelow Classic Green Tea – best green tea for weight loss

Bigelow Classic Green Tea - best tea for weight loss
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“Bigelow” believes that green tea is quite simple because, let’s face it, it is green tea. They are a proud American family-owned establishment that is making a broad range of teas since 1945.

What makes their tea stand out is their commitment to using only hand-picked leaves from highly-elevated gardens. The leaves are then gently processed to extract the natural smooth flavor that is neither harsh nor too grassy.

You can enjoy Bigelow Classic Green Tea with the confidence that your cup contains no calories, or gluten, and is kosher certified. Also, there are no added colors or additives, which keeps the essential antioxidants intact to make your cup of green tea deliciously healthy.

Your case of 6 boxes with 20 teabags each is wrapped in a special foil pouch to safeguard the tea from any moisture, air, and surrounding fragrances.

Also, a single cup only costs a bit over 6 cents! What else do you want?

4. The People’s Green Tea

The People's Green Tea

This wonderfully hued, delicate green tea is lauded for its refreshingly smooth taste as well as its amazing health benefits. Made with China green tea leaves, “The People’s Green Tea” contains zero calories and only a quarter amount of caffeine compared to an equivalent cup of coffee.

The Republic of Tea recommends adding a teabag to freshly boiled filtered water and letting it steep for up to three minutes for maximum flavor before drinking.

The Republic of Tea, who successfully claim to be the leading purveyor of premium teas, was established in 1992. The manufacturer only sourced the worthiest leaves from the most sought-after tea gardens of the world to bring about a tea revolution that is nearing its third decade of excellence.

Lastly, your single cup—hot or iced—costs less than five cents. It’s a bargain; you do not want to miss it.

5. Numi– Best Gunpowder Green Tea, Amazon’s Choice

Numi  - Best Gunpowder Green Tea, Amazon's Choice
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Gunpowder green tea by Numi is a mildly caffeinated full-leaf smooth green tea pearls. When you brew the pearls, the leaves unfold to release a seasoned, full-bodied flavor.

The manufacturer adheres to the golden rules of freshness. Therefore, the organic leaves are steamed and processed within hours of being picked. The company founded by Ahmed and Reem Rahim in 1999 is renowned for its wide array of organic and fair trade certified herbal teasans and teas.

Your tea is packaged in easy-to-use and individually wrapped tea bags for a soothing brew every time. These bags are made from unbleached, biodegradable, non-GMO hemp fiber, which gives you no microplastic in your cup of healthy green.

To brew numi green tea, you can do worse than trusting an ancient Chinese Emperor, who once boiled freshwater, allowed it to get mild a little, before adding tea leaves to it. You can steep for about three minutes, and it’s recommended to add two tea bags if you are making ice tea.

6. Ito En Tea Oi Ocha Green Tea – Best for direct drinking

Ito En Tea Oi Ocha Green Tea - Best for easy drink
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Oi Ocha Green Tea is made from first-flush Japanese whole green tea leaves, and not from a concentrate or tea powder. Ito En uses whole leaves to ensure that your brew is not bereft of any health benefits naturally prevalent in the leaves.

The tea itself offers an unsweetened and naturally refreshing taste. Oi Ocha contains no preservatives, sugar, or additives—which makes it a splendid, zero-calories substitute for your flavored coffee or unhealthy sugary soda. Moreover, your healthy goodness is packaged in an easy-to-use drinking bottle, allowing you to never get dehydrated when on the go.

Ito En, Ltd. is the biggest green tea distributor across Japan and specializes in tea production and sales. The organization also has a presence in the U.S. and Australia.

British tea brand Lipton believes in preserving the awesomeness of tea, and its green tea offers you 165mg of tea flavonoids per 8 fluid ounce serving.

The manufacturer source most delicate leaves from the premium Rainforest Alliance Certified tea regions. The alliance binds Unilever to improve the environmental, economic, and social conditions of the people involved in growing and picking tea leaves.

Many nutrition experts recommend green tea to keep the body hydrated. Therefore, make this delicious beverage a part of your daily routine, as it is made without any colors or additives—which makes it a superstar at the health box-office.

7. Jade Leaf Matcha Green Tea-Best cheap matcha green tea

Jade Leaf Matcha Green Tea -Best cheap matcha
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Green tea is good, but Matcha green tea is awesome. It’s because a single cup of this powdered magic carries ten times the energy of green tea. Matcha is a superfood in vogue due to its natural energy and healthy tea nutrients.

Jade Leaf sources premium Matcha leaves from authentic Japanese farms in Uji. Also, to preserve its organic power, the manufacturer tests every batch of leaves at its farms as well as by a U.S. 3rd party lab.

Each serving contains 34mg of caffeine, which is about a third of a coffee cup. Moreover, you can be assured that each one you consume is completely natural and carries no preservatives or additives.

If you want to spice up your green tea flavor—add ½ to 1 teaspoon of Jade Leaf Matcha Green Tea powder to your smoothie or a latte. However, if you’ve never made a smoothie before, put a banana, milk, and a handful of ice cubes, alongside Matcha powder in a blender and, of course, blend it.

To get you started, the green tea is delivered with an easy to use matcha recipe guide.

8. Davidson’s Tea Bulk– Best to Brew with Kombucha

Davidson's Tea Bulk - Best to Brew with Kombucha
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Gunpowder Green is a type of Chinese green tea that is shriveled, steamed, and then dried before getting rolled into small, round pellets. This time-tested green tea adopted its English name courtesy of its strong resemblance to gunpowder balls. Also, these intricately rolled “pellets” offer a powerfully deep flavor.

Davidson’s source their gunpowder from Wuyuan County, Jiangxi, in China. The county is also called the “Green Tea Golden Triangle,” because the altitude and climate are naturally taylor-made for green tea growth and harvest.

The tea is packaged in a paper/kraft SUP (stand up pouch) alongside aluminum foil lining to preserve freshness. The manufacturer recommends adding a teaspoon of Gunpowder Green to boiling water and letting it steep for about three minutes to extract maximum flavor before drinking.

9. Lipton Green Tea – Best cheap green tea bag

Lipton Green Tea - Best cheap green tea bag
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British tea brand Lipton believes in preserving the awesomeness of tea, and its green tea offers you 165mg of tea flavonoids per 8 fluid ounce serving.

The manufacturer source most delicate leaves from the premium Rainforest Alliance Certified tea regions. The alliance binds Unilever to improve the environmental, economic, and social conditions of the people involved in growing and picking tea leaves.

Many nutrition experts recommend green tea to keep the body hydrated. Therefore, make this delicious beverage a part of your daily routine, as it is made without any colors or additives—which makes it a superstar at the health box-office.

Lipton suggests drinking its steaming green tea after your meal has settled.

How to Choose The Best Green Tea?

Taste is largely subjective – we love light, sweet and mellow green tea, but you might prefer the strong bitter and grassy notes of matcha. Regardless, there are still key things that will tell you if a tea is good or bad. Quality isn’t subjective and often the quality of the tea will determine how fresh and flavourful it is.

A poor-quality green tea, even if the flavor notes are what you generally like, won’t taste as good as high-quality ones. Shopping online for tea can be a little tricky, but you should still take a little time to research whether the tea and the company are reliable and high quality.


  • The aroma is fresh, distinct and instantly detectable
  • The tea leaves are all uniform in shape and size
  • The tea leaves feel smooth and don’t easily crumble in your hand (a sign that they’re too dry or old)
  • The tea leaves are mildly green (dark, almost brown, green tea leaves are a sign that they’re old or have not been poorly stored)
  • The seller provides plenty of information and is happy to provide more when contacted


  • It’s mixed with stalks, twigs and broken leaves
  • Taste is overly astringent, chemical-like or just too bland
  • It has a famous name but is sold far cheaper

Tips for Buying Green Tea Online

Buying green tea online is not easy – it gives you access to innumerable brands and types that can be delivered quickly to your home. Always buy from reputable websites, like official websites of the brand. Tea Famille, Lipton, Twinings etc. all have official websites for you to buy from.

Generally, you’ll only find the most popular teas on sites like Amazon and eBay. For premium, hard-to-get green teas, you’ll need to do a little searching online to find a supplier.

  • Start by ordering small tea samples – compared to buying in a brick and mortar tea store, you can’t assess the aroma and flavor online as well. It’s best to order a small amount (20g is a usual sample size) before ordering a large amount for daily consumption.
  • Don’t worry about tea flavor reviews – flavor and opinions on that flavor are very personal and subjective. What one person finds delicious, another may despise. So, don’t pay attention to poor reviews because of personal taste.
  • Do worry about tea company reviews – when you see poor reviews because of the quality (arrived stale, packet split open, 3 months late, etc.) or the company policies, that’s a bad sign. It’s the same with buying anything online – these bad reviews are the signs that the company is not to be relied upon for a great experience. If they take such poor care of their customers and processes, will they be taking good care of their teas? It seems unlikely.
  • Be wary of large tea collections – we’ve found that in general, the more tea a supplier has to offer the less likely that they’ve assessed the quality of the tea they’re selling. A small tea website with just a handful of premium teas available will probably feature teas that have been carefully selected, thus buying from a smaller website ensures higher quality and care. Of course, not all websites follow the rule but it’s something to keep in mind! Like the English saying goes, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

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