Non-Grassy Green Teas?
I would suggest Japanese ‘Bancha’…or start with a Oolong which is the perfect stepping stone from black to green teas.
Here’s a quote that Jim Marks made in a comment to a tasting note today:
“Finding a Japanese style green that appeals to any given person’s palate is a completely subjective adventure. Some people love those “shredded kale” kinds of varieties and some people hate them. Anyone who can’t cope with any vegetal element at all should be drinking Chinese green, not Japanese (imho).”
Just seconding the general concensus – chinese greens are going to be more appealing to the person who doesn’t like the vegetal notes. But give japanese greens a fighting chance if you’re truly interested – it took me a few days of trial and error to get my ratios perfected, but the trick is a super-short steeping time, not over-heating the water, and not expecting it to taste sweet or fruity, but more toward the buttery/savory side.
I really enjoy Super Premium Sencha, basically just dried, unprocessed green leaves – but I drink it when I’m in the mood for savory. I even add the steeped leaves to ramen noodles when I’m done with the tea – super fresh leaves are ok to eat just like spinach or broccoli rabe (not recommended for a variety that’s been processed, flavored, or otherwise altered, however.)
Though I’m a neophyte as well, I am finding that I don’t really care for flavored green teas. I quite like flavored blacks and even some flavored whites, but I am concluding that I prefer greens as stand alones. I’d suggest getting a sampler of unflavored greens and experimenting. As others have said, lower temperatures and shorter steeping times can make a world of difference. It’s amazing to me the sorts of vegetal (non-grassy) flavors that can come out of some teas with just a minute or so of steeping — everything from buttered spinach to buttered toast!
Anything with a bit of mint in it will help balance out the “green,” too.
To people who want to explore green tea, I would suggest avoiding all blended green tea (except for few traditional blends such as Jasmine green and Moroccan mint green tea). Unlike black tea, green tea is not a good “background” tea for blends. The best green tea with subtle flavors would be shaded by any added flavors. Therefore most green teas used for bends are those with strongest taste and they are not typical green teas.
I’ve purchased the Den’s Tea sampler, which is Japanese green tea. I haven’t disliked anything I’ve tried yet, but I haven’t exactly loved anything either. Now from reading this thread again, I realized I should probably check out Chinese greens. Are there any sites you guys know of that are similar to Den’s but sell only Chinese green tea? Or just recommendations for sites that have sampler sets of just Chinese greens?
We had a sampler’s set with 7 popular green tea samples (all 2009 tea), but the last set was sold last week. Still you can get free samples (with $3 shipping) at http://www.LifeInTeacup.com/tea-samples
Current samples are all 2009 tea. We will try to put together an 2010 green tea sampler set in 3-4 weeks, after we finish listing all the 2010 new green tea in the April Madness :D
If I may make a suggestion… try this tea from Red Leaf Tea:
Now… it’s been a little while since I’ve had it… but if I recall correctly, it is a very smooth, almost “yellow-tea-like”. Very little grassy taste to it.
I saw that someone mentioned a “mint” flavored tea… that is a good idea also. The only thing I would add to that is that you should not start with a gunpowder green mint tea, because I find gunpowder green teas to be a bit more grassy than other Chinese greens.
Also, orange flavored green teas would be a good choice, as I think that the orange flavor tends to offset some of the grassy flavor.