What Does Green Tea Taste Like? Find Out in this Guide

While the question of what does green tea taste like is really difficult to understand until you’ve tried it, we’re going to attempt to shed some light on the matter in this article. 

Without further ado, let’s dive in and learn what does green tea taste like.


What Does Green Tea Taste Like Video 

If you want to know what does green tea taste like the best way to learn is by watching this video. If you've prefer to read, we'll walk you through what does green tea taste like in the next section. 

What Does Green Tea Taste Like - 6 Green Tea Flavors

If you're wondering, what does green tea taste like, just keep in mind that the green tea taste profile can be broken up into 6 distinct categories. These green tea flavors will become more or less prevalent depending on the type of tea you are drinking.

Sweet Green Tea Flavors

If you're wondering what does green tea taste like, you'll want to understand the compound "theanine". Theanine is the dominant amino acid in tea leaves and it’s the primary cause of these sweet and savory flavor profiles. 

How a tea is shaded will most likely determine where it is positioned on the sweetness spectrum. Teas shaded for a longer time like Kabuse Sencha will have more of these green tea flavors. 

Salty Green Tea Taste

Believe it or not, some Japanese green teas can even take on a salty flavor. This green tea taste can be found in Gyokuro, as the tea is often described as having a marine or seaweedy taste profile. This is not to say that the tea has any sodium in it, but it rather shares taste characteristics with foods that are typically salty like soup or dried seaweed snacks.

When you ask what does green tea taste like, some consideration has to be made for the minerality of the tea, and sometimes this manifests as a saltiness in the flavor.

Sour or Acidic Green Tea Flavors

What does green tea taste like of course depends on the type of tea we are referring to. Sourness exists in some teas but not others. A lot of times a shincha will have this tart, berry flavor that can be quite enjoyable.

Shincha is the first tea to be harvested in the early spring of each year, and its made from the youngest sprouts of the tea plant. This tea has a higher concentration of nutrients, and it does tend to be sweeter, but the tart or sour flavor is still there.

Bitter Green Tea Flavors

When a tea is exposed to the sunlight, it begins to convert this sweet and savory theanine into more bitter catechins. Because Gyokuro is a shade grown tea, it is able to retain much more of this theanine, but unshaded sencha teas will have this bitter green tea taste.

A bitter green tea can begin to take on a citrusy flavor profile, almost like a bitter grapefruit. It also has an astringency, which can create a drying sensation in the mouth. One theory states that as the astringent components of the tea bind with the protein in your saliva, you notice a “puckering” effect similar to when you drink a dry red wine or eat a citrus fruit. 

Dry or Astringent Green Tea Taste

When it comes to what does green tea taste like, there is always a balance between sweetness and dryness. A lot of tea drinkers prefer drier teas to sweeter teas because of this intense “physicality” or how the tea actually interacts with your mouth.

Because this unshaded sencha tea is so low in theanine and so high in catechins, it sits on the lower end of the spectrum. 

Umami Green Tea Flavors

The savory or umami flavor is something that may come up a lot if you ask someone what does green tea taste like. We normally associate this savory flavor as only coming from foods and not from drinks. In the case of Japanese cuisine, this savory flavor is not only celebrated in the food, but also in the tea as well.

This savory flavor comes from the amino acids in the tea leaf like l-theanine. We associate this umami flavor with protein rich foods, but proteins are just a collection of amino acids. Shaded teas like gyokuro and matcha powder can be rich in these amino acids and it can really contribute to the taste.

Vegetable Green Tea Flavors

If you were to ask what does green tea taste like, one of the first words that might come up is "vegetal". Tea is made from a leaf, which technically makes it a vegetable. Japanese green teas, particularly Fukamushi Sencha, tend to have these steamed vegetable notes like sweet corn, edamame and spinach.

The Fukamushi teas are easy to spot because of their vibrant, cloudy green color. They are steamed for an even longer time, which breaks down the cell membranes of the plant and allows more of it to flow into the cup. This allows them to produce more of these steamed vegetable green tea flavors.


Building your palate by comparing teas and testing

If you really want to answer the question what does green tea taste like, there is no substitute for experience. If you want to really get an idea for the vast array of different green tea flavors, you can try out one of our Japanese tea samplers.

This sampler includes 30 different kinds of matcha, gyokuro, hojicha, sencha, kukicha, bancha, genmaicha and kamairicha so you can really get a sense of how subtle differences in the production of the tea can really lead to different flavors. Hopefully this will be able to help you answer the question what does green tea taste like.

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