The unique flavor of green teas is created when—after the leaf is picked but before it is dried—it is shaped. Shaping comes in countless forms, from tightly- to loosely- rolled or twisted. Whichever method is used, it breaks down the cells in the leaf and creates the signature vegetal flavor of green tea.
Like the cut edge of a fresh apple that begins to turn brown, the broken tea cells also want to oxidize. In green tea, oxidation is prevented by heating the leaves. The Japanese heat their green tea with steam, while the Chinese pan-fire the tea in a wok. Both the shaping and heating of the leaves combine with the effects of terroir (climate, elevation and soil content) to create the unique flavors of different green teas.
Green teas range in color from light yellow-green to bright apple-green. Flavors in green teas range from delicate notes of watercress to powerful notes of edamame. But the taste adventure of green teas goes much further. You can "taste" Japan and China in their respective green teas. You can taste the different traditions and terroir of both countries and of specific regions within each. You can taste history and culture. It's a journey worth taking.