Originating in China and Japan, green tea has steadily grown in popularity in the UK in recent years, with various UK companies launching their own versions on supermarket shelves. If you’re looking to try a brew beyond your regular Earl Gray or breakfast tea, look no further than our roundup of the best green tea.
While many already love green tea for its herbal, earthy flavor, it can be difficult for newcomers to find the right introduction to the drink. Low-quality or improperly prepared green tea can taste unpleasant and bitter, miles away from the nutty, vegetal profile you should be getting. Beyond that, there are many forms green tea can take, as well as variations in taste and preparation method depending on country and region.
Our handy buying guide makes it all easier, answering any questions you might have before diving into the world of green tea. Further down the page, you’ll find our best green teas list, with mini reviews of each of our carefully curated picks.
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Best Green Tea: In Brief
How to choose the best green tea for you
How is green tea different from black tea?
Black tea and green tea are actually made from the same plant. Their differences come from where they are grown, how they are processed and how they are brewed.
Region: Black tea is mainly grown in India, China, Sri Lanka and Africa, while most green tea comes from China, Japan, Vietnam or Indonesia. Although they are made from the same plant, green tea is made from a varietal more commonly found in Southeast Asia, while black tea typically uses one from the India.
Treatment: This is where the most significant difference comes in. After harvest, black tea can oxidize (i.e. come into contact with oxygen), causing the naturally green leaves to turn black. and changes the flavor profile. Green tea is heated shortly after harvest to prevent oxidation, either by pan (China) or steamed (Japan). This process preserves the green color and taste of the leaves.
Brewing: Black tea is usually prepared with boiling water and steeped for three to five minutes. Most people’s unpleasant experiences with green tea come from trying to brew it like black tea, which burns the most delicate green tea leaves. Green tea should generally be steeped with water at 80°C, with some shade-grown varieties of Japanese green tea being steeped at 60°C and steeped for 1-2 minutes.
What forms does green tea come in?
Green tea can be purchased in loose leaf, teabag or powder form. Across these different varieties, it can come in many flavors and be treated differently depending on where it was grown or made. A common form of powder you may already be familiar with is matcha – which is shade-grown and made from specific parts of the tea plant before being ground into a powder using millstones.
Is green tea healthy?
Although it is reputed to have many health-enhancing properties, clinical studies have found no significant medical benefits from drinking green tea. However, it contains less caffeine than coffee, so it’s a viable option for those trying to reduce their caffeine intake. On top of that, it has a pleasant natural smell and taste and can be purchased in less processed and more organic forms than many traditional teas.
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The best green tea to buy
1. The Tea Makers of London Jasmine Green Tea: Best Loose Leaf Green Tea
Price: £9 | Buy now on Amazon
The Teamakers of London is a family business based in England with a focus on sourcing and variety. Founded by former tea planter Sam Sameen, the company has won several Great Taste awards in recent years, including one for its jasmine green tea.
This loose jasmine tea is a flavorful and highly aromatic blend, perfect for green tea beginners. Its vegetal, yet subtly sweet flavor is achieved by blending green tea leaves with jasmine flowers, allowing them to absorb their fragrance. It is then gently cooked several times to seal in the flavor. Tea makers suggest adding a pinch of honey to the brew if you really want to savor its sweeter notes. The overall result is a deliciously refreshing and aromatic jasmine tea enjoyed by aficionados and newcomers alike.
Key Details – Size: 125g; Form: Loose-leaf; Variety: Jasmine
2. Teapigs Mao Feng Green Tea: The Best Green Tea Bags
Price: £11 | Buy now on Amazon
This Mao Feng Green Tea from Teapigs is a great starting point for anyone looking to try green tea – it has a wonderful, deep flavor and is very simple to prepare. Teapigs have used highly respected Mao Feng tea leaves to create a strong infusion with notes of peach and apricot.
Besides the high-quality leaves, Teapigs main selling point is its “tea temples” as they are labeled, which are larger than standard tea bags, allowing them to incorporate whole leaves and spices in tea. These temples are designed to give you more of the flavor and depth of loose leaf tea, with the simplicity of a tea bag. The bags are also plastic free and biodegradable which is a big plus. One thing to note is that the larger leaves of this product will take a little longer to steep than a regular tea. Although they in turn produce a deeper and more satisfying flavor.
Key Details – Size: 125g; Form: tea bags Variety: Mao Feng
3. English Tea Shop Ceylon Green Tea: Best Budget Green Tea
Price: £2 | Buy now on Amazon
With the popularity and widespread availability of black tea, it can sometimes be difficult to find a high-quality green tea that fits into the same budget space as your regular cup of tea. This box of 20 tea bags from the English Tea Shop is perhaps the best value for money you will come across.
It is made with Ceylon tea leaves from Sri Lanka and unlike other varieties, Ceylon is named after where it is grown rather than the variety of tea plant used to make it. It can therefore describe a green, black or white tea. Ceylon green tea is strong and nutty, compared to its more subtle black and white counterparts.
These organic Ceylon tea bags come in fully compostable packaging – with the exception of the bags, which are recyclable – and produce a strong, clean cup of green tea that’s great to drink any time of the day.
Key Details – Size: 40g; Form: tea bags; Variety: Green Ceylon
4. Whittard Gyokuro Loose-leaf: Best Premium Green Tea
Price: From £14 | Shop now at Whittard
This luxury loose leaf tea from the historic Whittard Tea Shop is best suited for general tea lovers and green tea lovers – with a bag containing only high quality Gyokuro tea leaves. A delicate shade-grown leaf, Gyokuro is considered by many to be the highest quality tea variety in its native Japan, standing head and shoulders above more standard varieties like sencha.
The leaves produce a deep colored brew, with a smooth, almost creamy texture and a light, sweet flavor. Whittard compares the flavor to lightly steamed peas topped with melted butter and suggests pairing a cup with a robust cheese like Camembert.
One of the top-reviewed products on Whittard’s site, this tea is available in a standard cardboard sleeve, as well as an elegant gray basket, perfect for refilling or as an aesthetic addition to any kitchen counter.
Key Details – Size: 50 grams; Form: Loose-leaf; Variety: Gyokuro
Shop now at Whittard
5. HeapWell Superfoods Matcha: Best matcha powder
Price: From £7 | Buy now on Amazon
This matcha powder from Heapwell Superfoods is a well-stocked tea product with a solid range of options when it comes to quality – it comes in high-quality culinary, ceremonial and ceremonial varieties and Heapwell can trace its stone-ground matcha to to tea producers in Kyoto and Nara, Japan.
People appreciate matcha for the complexity of its flavor and this product is a great example of that. It has the classic vegetal and nutty notes of green tea, along with a slight bitterness. But what keeps people coming back is the strong umami finish – if you’re not familiar with umami, it describes a deep, savory flavor note. Matcha powder is made from the same shade-grown tea leaves as Gyokuro tea and produces a drink with a smooth, silky mouthfeel.
If you’ve been curious about this bright green frothy drink, this matcha powder is a great place to start.
Key Details – Size: 50 grams; Form: Powder; Variety: Matcha
6. Ito En Oi Oicha Green Tea: Best Bottled Green Tea
Price: £3 | Shop now at Japan Center
Although we might usually associate green tea with a contemplative brewing process and a thoughtful sip by the window, bottled and canned green teas have in fact become mainstream and beloved products.
Ito En’s Oi Oicha bottled green tea is a phenomenon in Japan. Made from real tea leaves, it’s a reliable option for on-the-go green tea. It has a distinct green tea aroma and flavor, which other prepackaged options tend to lack. Despite this, it still goes down easily, with a light, clean taste. It’s best served chilled or over ice and it’s a great option on days when it’s too hot to think about boiling the kettle for a standard cup of tea.
Key Details – Size: 500ml; Form: Liquid; Variety: Sencha
Shop now at Japan Center