For almost five thousand years, the Chinese have enjoyed the refreshing and rejuvenating qualities of green tea, and today, even in countries that traditionally favor black tea, the interest in green is growing.
Foremost among the factors leading to this new awareness are the remarkable health benefits of green tea, at present being documented in study after study. Spurred on by a fresh wave of interest, supermarkets, tea shops, tea rooms, and hotel lounges around the world now offer an increasing range of fragrant green teas, and manufacturers in tea-producing countries are experimenting with new products, flavorings, and blends to offer the adventerous tea lover an exciting range of new taste experiences.
Ever since tea was first discovered, its cultivation and consumption have been encouraged because of its apparent ability to ward off disease, strengthen powers of concentration, cleanse the body, and aid digestion. Legends of its medicinal properties reached Europe and the New World from China, intriguing the Western consumer, and now, centuries later, modern research has begun to confirm many of those early beliefs.
In the initial phases of tea consumption in Europe and the United States, both black and green teas were regularly drunk. Over time, the British traveled down the tea road while the rest of Europe and the United States gradually turned to coffee. Where tea continued to reign, a preference for black tea won out and led to the almost total demise of green tea in those markets and a decline in knowledge and appreciation of it. But now, Western tea drinkers are once again eager for detailed information on how green teas are grown, manufactured, brewed, and drunk.