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Green tea is such a special drink. The taste and texture and aroma is truly one of nature’s great gifts.
Not a day goes by that I don’t drink tea of some sort and a vibrant green tea is often included. But which of them are the best? What makes a great green tea?
Taste? Absolutely. The most important criteria. But there are others that I find important and often overlooked.
Especially for loose leaf teas. The aroma of the tea, both in the bag and in the boiling water is incredibly important to the overall experience.
How the tea is grown, how it is packaged, how fresh it is when it arrives at your door are all factors that you should include in your quest for that perfect cup of green tea.
This Genmaicha Green Tea From Buddha Teas probably my favorite, but everything on this list is worthy of your time, in my opinion.
I have put together this list of my best organic loose leaf green tea that I have tried using these criteria.
I don’t like giving a score for these teas since I think they are all great. These are all the best of the best in my opinion.
The basic criteria are as follows they must be 100% organically grown to the best of my knowledge and they must be a loose leaf tea. I’ll put together my favorite bagged green teas as soon as I can.
I prefer loose leaf teas for a few reasons but one of the main ones is the ability to inspect the tea leaves. You can really get a feel for the overall quality of the tea by having a look at the leaves before you steep them.
They are in no particular order and they are simply my opinion.
#1 Zen no Ocha Sencha Green Tea
Zen no Ocha Sencha Green Tea is grown in Shizuoka, Japan using 100% organic methods and never any pesticides.
This tea is grown in mountainous regions and is quickly packaged and shipped to retain as much freshness as possible.
The Taste and Aroma
To get the perfect taste it is important to steep for the recommended amount of time. You will want to only steep for about 60 seconds for the perfect cup of this Sencha Green. When prepared properly the taste is mild and clean and not bitter for an overall balanced taste.
The tea looks beautiful when prepared. It has a deep, vibrant green that looks as inviting as it smells. You might find yourself entranced by its appealing beauty right as you go to take a sip of this great Sencha Tea from Zen No Ocha(*affiliate link), check price on Amazon.
The aroma complements the taste of the tea as well. It has a soft, grassy fragrance that hits your nose right before you drink it, adding to the overall experience.
The leaves themselves are fantastic, I found no stems in my bag just pure leaves. You can use the same serving of leaves to steep multiple times, however, I found three steeps to be the limit and that was pushing it. You will probably want to cap it at 2 steeps per serving.
Final Thoughts on Zen no Ocha – Sencha Green Tea
This is an everyday green tea that just about anyone can enjoy. Because it is so mild, even people who tend to shy away from tea because of its bitterness can enjoy a cup of this delightful Sencha tea.
Almost impossible not to love, I think you will find this fragrant, balanced cup of Japanese green tea will keep you coming back time after time. This is a great daily morning tea to start your day off right.
#2 VAHDAM – Himalayan Pearls Green Tea
The first tea on our list from India. Indian green tea often has to take a back seat to Chinese and Japanese green teas, but I feel that this is a little harsh.
Indian green tea is fantastic and some of my favorites are from India.
Including this one. As the name implies the Vahdam offering is grown in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas. All of the leaves are certified organic, pesticide-free, single source, and fair-trade. Get a taste of VAHDAM – Himalayan Pearls Green Tea(*affiliate link).
Vahdam takes great pride in the way they make their tea. From the tea leaves to the people who grow their wonderful products.
It really is a guilt-free process when you buy from this company. The handpicked leaves are rolled in such a way that gives them their distinctive pearl shape.
Taste and Aroma
The care with which they approach their tea really pays off in the final product. The slightly sweet and subtle flavor of this green tea is a great delight. It has a slight flavor of vegetation when drinking it.
The finish is incredibly smooth making it another great tea for anyone.
The aroma is outstanding as well. The smell of vegetation and an almost forest-like fragrance hits you when you first open the bag.
Those aromas combine with a slightly nutty fragrance during steeping to really drive home the elegance of this fine green tea.
I would describe the hue of the tea like a golden green. Certainly not the verdant greens of may of the sencha green teas.
I think the color of the tea complements the earthy, forest aroma and flavor of Himalayan Pearls Green Tea.
The steep time for this tea is about 2-3 minutes at a temperature of 80-90 degrees Celcius. I like to steep right up until the 3-minute mark with this tea.
I typically let the boiling water sit a minute or two before pouring a cup as super hot water can interfere with the flavor sometimes.
But as always experiment with your cup to find that sweet spot.
#3 Buddha Tea – Loose Leaf Matcha Yuzu Ryokucha
Update: This Tea No Longer Seems To Be Available From Buddha Teas, the URL shows as a 404 error now. It is a shame because this was a great green tea, I will leave it here for a while in hopes that they bring it back at some point. I have not found a suitable replacement for this tea.
This is a great little blended green tea. It starts with Ryokucha green tea leaves as the base for this flavorful tea.
Next, powdered matcha is blended in to add a smoothness to the proceedings. Finally, the peel of a citrusy Yuzu fruit is mixed in to make one of the most unique green tea flavors available. And adds a nice boost of vitamin C to the overall experience.
Taste and Aroma
The taste of this exciting green tea is one that I think you will absolutely love. The Ryokucha tea leaves offer a very strong green tea flavor by themselves, but when the matcha and yuzu are added the overall texture and flavor become much smoother and more drinkable for any type of tea drinker.
I love to see this type of experimentation towards these teas. It opens the door for people who casually drink tea to experience some of the bolder flavors without being overwhelmed by the bitterness of some teas.
The aroma of both the dried leaves and the steeped tea is outstanding. You can smell the citrus but it doesn’t overwhelm the slightly grassy aroma of the green tea. They compliment each other without overpowering one another. It is a remarkable balancing act that this wonderful tea performs.
The enjoyment this balance brings to your morning cup of tea cannot be overstated. You can check the current price on Buddha Tea(*affiliate link).
You will need to be very careful when steeping this tea to get the most out of it. Buddha Tea recommends a covered steep of 3-5 minutes at 200-210 degrees to get the best-tasting tea.
I found that the lower end of that number produces the best results for me personally (Around 3 minutes and 45 seconds). But you will want to experiment to find your sweet spot for this outstanding green tea.
Overall a pleasant and interesting experience. I don’t think this is an everyday green tea but something for a quick flavorful pick-me-up a few times a week.
#4 Buddha Tea – Loose Leaf Organic Genmaicha
This is an incredibly interesting green tea from Japan. The history of Genmaicha is fascinating. It is often called the “peoples’ tea” due to its humble beginnings. For much of history, tea was expensive and typically out of reach for most commoners in Japan. So in order to make it last longer, they used roasted brown rice as a filler.
The infusions of the salty brown rice to the grassy flavor of the green tea produced one of the most enduring teas for rich and poor alike. Tasting this tea for the first time is quite an eye-opening experience.
The Taste and Aroma of Genmaicha
The brown rice is the key to this tea’s unique flavor. The roasted rice adds a slightly salty nutty flavor to the tea.
It gives the tea a much fuller taste a texture. It almost feels like a light soup in my opinion. But still very much a cup of refreshing green tea. Check out this amazing Genmaicha Green tea(*affiliate link) at Buddha Teas.
The aroma is as unique as the flavor. The subtle grassy notes of the green tea leaves are complimented perfectly by the earthy tones of the roasted brown rice.
Buddha Tea recommends a water temperature of 170-180 degrees and a steep time of 1-3 minutes. I found that 2:45 worked well for my tastes.
After about 3 and a half minutes the tea became a little too bitter for me. Always experiment to find your perfect spot for each tea.
One of my favorite teas to drink in the early evening or a chilly night. This hearty tea fills your body with warmth and refreshes the body and soul with every sip. Just not too close to bedtime due to the abundance of caffeine.
I think this tea is suitable for anyone, even new tea drinkers due to its incredibly smooth taste.
An Alternative To Buddha Teas Organic Genmaicha
Buddha Teas Genmaicha can be a little tough to get a hold of sometimes. But if you are looking for a great genmaicha green tea with a similar taste profile, I recommend taking a look at Pantenger Organic Loose Leaf Genmaicha(*affiliate link), available on Amazon. It has that wonderful grassy roasted flavor that you have come to expect from a good quality Genmaicha green tea.
#5 Tealyra – Sencha Fukujyu Loose Leaf Green Tea
Another great example of a Sencha green tea from Japan. Each brand has a slightly different flavor even within the same overall type of green tea.
Experimenting with different brands is a great way to find your favorite teas.
Sencha green tea is approachable by just about anyone. This is one of the reasons why it is so popular around the world. It has the delightful taste of green tea without some of the bitterness that can sometimes be associated with true teas in general.
The Taste and Aroma
As with most Sencha teas, this Tealyra offering is very light with only a slight grassy taste. It has a bit of natural sweetness to it which makes it very easy to drink for any type of tea drinker.
The bitterness is kept to a minimum as well. Many people think it has a subtle seaweed taste, but I don’t really find that to be the case.
I would call a slightly grassy taste, with some savory notes to the overall flavor.
The aroma is much the same as the taste, slightly grassy but not too strong. The freshly opened back is outstanding to breathe in. A subtle plant-like odor. Very gentle but very distinct.
The aroma follows the tea from the bag to the infuser and to the completed cup.
Gentle and distinct.
Finding your favorite tea can take years. I tend not to pick sides.
If I like a certain tea then I make sure to have it as often as I can, but when you like as many teas as I do it becomes very tough to have them on a regular basis. As a result, I don’t drink Sencha Green Tea as often as I would like.
There are 3 on this list, I think. I may be relegated to only one order of each per year. Sometimes less frequently.
Part of that is the job of having to try a bunch of teas but part of it is that I just like diversity when it comes to my teas. You can check the latest price for this tea(*affiliate link) on Amazon.
I love trying new ones, but the point is I always try and find my way back to my favorite basic, classic Sencha green teas like this one.
#6 Anji Bai Cha Green Tea
This is our first Chinese tea on our list. Anji Bai Cha Green Tea is quite a bit rarer than some of the other teas on this list.
It is not grown nearly as much as the other greens. The harvesting season is also very short lasting only about a month in the early spring.
The tea must be authenticated and adhere to strict location criteria for it to be called Anji Bai Cha. Only leaves that are harvested in this protected area around An Ji, Zhejiang Province in China can be counted as this unique green tea.
The Aroma and Taste
The aroma of this green tea is quite subtle and delicate. It has an almost floral scent when steeped as opposed to a very grassy fragrance that many other green teas have.
The leaves themselves have a very fresh aroma to them. The leaves also have an incredibly fresh look to them.
The taste is refreshing, to say the least. I did not pick up on much bitterness at all. The entire cup was very smooth and the drinkability will make it a great tea for any type of tea drinker.
The recommended steep is 2-3 minutes in water that is 80 degrees Celcius or less. I found 3 minutes to be fine for my taste. However, you must let the water cool a bit before steeping.
Boiling water is far too hot and really saps the flavor of the tea. Find this flavorful Anji Bai Cha Green Tea (*affiliate link)at Teavivre.
The tea can be infused about 3 times. However, I found the first one to be the best. The delicate citrusy flavors were most pronounced on the first infusion making the first cup the best experience for me.
I would recommend this tea about a half-hour after a meal and not every day. It is more expensive than many of the other green teas on this list and should probably be reserved for more special occasions.
#7 Frontier Co-op – Organic Gunpowder Green Tea
Frontier Co-op’s Gunpowder Green Tea offering is outstanding. It is 100% certified organic and fair trade. This is a gunpowder tea, which means that the leaves have been rolled into a pellet sized ball. This makes the tea resemble gunpowder or shotgun pellets and hence the western name of the tea is born.
This form of tea originated in China and dates back to the 600’s according to this source. Frontier Co-op imports their special pin-head gunpowder green tea from its traditional source in China. Try Frontier Co-op gunpowder Green Tea(*affiliate link), available at Amazon.
The Taste and Aroma
The taste is quite robust, but not bitter in my experience. Those looking for that bitter kick that some stronger green teas have might be a little disappointed.
But if you love a smooth grassy flavor with a bit of a smoky kick then this is definitely a tea you will love.
The aroma of the tea is slightly grassy both in the bag and when being steeped. It is a delightfully mild smell that will not overpower the room and brings an air of freshness and vegetation to the room where you are making your cup.
All this adds up to a light, incredibly drinkable tea. The steep time is between 2 to 4 minutes at a temperature of 75 degrees Celcius.
I find that the best steep time for myself was around 3 minutes and 30 seconds. It is important to let the water cool quite a bit before pouring due to the ideal temperature being a bit lower for this green tea offering.
#8 VAHDAM – Darjeeling Emerald Green Tea
As with all of Vahdam’s tea offerings, their Darjeeling Emerald Green Tea Loose Leaf is 100% organic, ethically grown at the Arya tea estate in the Darjeeling region and of course, it is fair trade certified.
The look of the leaves out of the bag is very attractive and really a hallmark of this Indian green tea brand. They are tightly rolled but still fresh enough that you can see the veins of the leaves adding to the overall freshness in their appearance.
The Aroma and The Taste
The aroma of this outstanding green tea is one of vegetation. Undergrowth after a spring shower would be the way I would describe it.
There is something very fresh and clean about the fragrance of this tea both in the bag and when you steep it.
There is a floral hint as well. Get a taste of Darjeeling Emerald Green Tea(*affiliate link) from the Vahdam website. I think you will enjoy it.
The taste follows suit with the aroma. It has a grassy, smooth taste. With only the slightest indication of bitterness.
In fact, that may be the biggest problem for this tea for some people. It is so smooth and drinkable that some might perceive it as a weak tea.
I don’t believe it is weak. Delicate? Yes. Weak? No. That delicate taste is what gives it its character. I think you will love it as an everyday green tea.
This is something you can have just about anytime with any food and not be overwhelmed by the taste.
The suggested steep time for this wonderful Indian green tea is 2-3 minutes at around 80-90 degrees Celcius.
I like to keep mine steeping for the full 3 minutes to give it a little more robust flavor. The temperature when steeping is critical, as it is for most tea.
Let the boiling water cool for a few minutes before pouring and you will have your perfect cup. Or as close to perfect as you can get anyway.
#9 Buddha Teas – Loose Leaf Sencha Green Tea
Sencha Green Tea, check out the best sencha teas in our article, is the most popular tea in Japan. It is a whole leaf green tea where the leaves are rolled and steamed to protect the leaves from oxidization. This helps give the Sencha tea its distinctive golden-green hue. The finished tea is also a bit cloudy due to the steaming process.
Sencha is your basic green tea. It accounts for about 80% of the tea produced in Japan according to Wikipedia. There are no frills with this tea.
It is just green tea leaves steamed to lock in the flavors. Pure green tea. Rolled and dried to create this wonderful finished product that you can steep into the perfect cup of tea.
Taste And Aroma
Sencha is slightly more bitter than some other green teas I have tried but it still retains that grassy flavor that is so distinctive of most green teas.
The bitterness is not enough to overwhelm the slightly sweet flavor that Sencha is renowned for.
The smell of the leaves is delightful. They are a grassy almost vegetable smell. Pure and clean in their aroma. There is nowhere to hide for the wonderful smell of this green tea.
Not other flavors to cover-up any imperfections. You can tell right as you open a bag of Sencha just how good it is going to be.
The steeping process brings those aromas and flavors into full relief. If you are new to green teas then this Sencha (*Affiliate Link To Buddha Teas) is definitely the place to start.
It is the green tea that you think about when you think about green tea. It is the most popular tea in Japan for a reason.
One of the best green teas I have tried. This is an everyday green tea for any tea drinker. New or experienced this outstanding tea should be a part of your daily routine. I like to wake up to a cup or 2 as often as possible.
The recommended steep time is 2 to 4 minutes at a water temperature of 160-170 degrees. I like to steep for about 3 minutes.
I think it adds a little bit more flavor to steep at the high end of the range. You can also change the flavor slightly by changing the temperature of the water. As always experiment to find your desired perfect cup.
#10 Ocha & Co. Organic Fukamushi Sencha Green Tea
This fine green tea is grown in Shizuoka Japan about a half a kilometer above sea level.
The Organic Fukamushi Sencha Green Tea (Amazon Affiliate link) is deep steamed to bring out the nutrients in the tea.
This tea is 100% certified organic and is vacuum-sealed to lock in the freshness of the tea leaves.
The Taste And Aroma
The first thing you will notice about this tea is its beautiful and vibrant green color. It is really wonderful to look at.
The taste is quite smooth and crisp. The grassy fragrance is evident in the tea as well as a slightly floral taste.
This tea is quite strong and you can easily steep a second cup with the leaves if you want. The second steeping is a little weaker but still retains much of that excellent flavor from the first and remove any hint of bitterness.
The smell of the tea leaves when you break the vacuum seal is quite the experience.
The beautifully fragrant smell of grass floats out of the bag and infuses itself into your surroundings. An outstanding experience from opening the bag to that first sip and beyond.
Like most green teas the preparation is imperative to get the best cup of tea. The recommended steep time for this tea is 30-40 seconds at a temperature of 75 to 85 degrees Celcius.
In my opinion, the high end of the steep time is where you will want to be, but experiment to find your sweet spot.
I thought that the time was far too short so I tried steeping for 2 minutes on my first cup and quickly found that the recommended time was there for a reason.
The cup properly steeped for the right amount of time really brought out the great flavors of the tea. Lesson learned.
#11 Octavia Tea Himalayan Green
Octavia Tea’s Himalayan green tea is fair trade certified 100% organic tea from the Himalayan foothills.
The tea comes to use from the Darjeeling region of India. The bulk container comes in a bag while the smaller option comes in a very nice tin.
The Taste and Aroma
The taste is a little bit less vegetable, less grassy than some of its Japanese or Chinese green tea counterparts. The bitterness is kept very much to a minimum making this one of the smoothest and most drinkable green teas on this list.
Floral notes take the place of the typical grassy flavors common in green tea from other regions.
The aroma of the leaves is very nice and unique. Like the flavor, the smell has a bit less grassy fragrance and more of a floral aroma.
Like a dew-covered field of flowers in the early morning. Octavia Tea Himalayan Green Tea(*affiliate link), check price at Amazon, really is a delightful experience from bag to cup.
I suggest a temperature of 75 to 80 degrees for steeping this wonderful green tea. The steeping duration should be between 2 and 3 minutes.
I prefer the high end of the duration. I feel it give the best flavor and texture for the tea.
But that is, of course, personal preference. Find the right place for you and work from there. Don’t be afraid to experiment
#12 Starwest Botanicals Fair Trade Organic Gunpowder Green Tea
The second gunpowder green on our list. The flavor profiles are very similar but you’ll be able to tell the difference if you put them head to head.
They have the same characteristics but I feel that Starwest’s offering has a slightly stronger flavor.
Grown in China, this tea is a wonderful addition to any lunch or evening cup of tea. The smoky flavor makes this one of my favorite after-dinner green teas.
A Quick Look At The Taste and Aroma
This gunpowder green tea has a deep robust flavor to it. As with most gunpowder teas, this one has a bit of a smoky accent to its overall flavor.
The grassy notes are still there and are brought to the forefront with a perfect steep.
The aroma is very clean and foresty. The grassy smell has the fragrance of an overgrown forest on a damp day.
The vegetable smell is also infused with a slightly smoky or nutty aroma that comes to the fore, even more, when it is steeped.
The recommended steep time is between 2 and 3 minutes and an 80-90 degrees Celcius temperature. I prefer to let my Starwest Botanicals Gunpowder Green Tea(*affiliate link) steep for around the full 3 minutes.
As usual, let the water cool a little bit before steeping to get to the ideal temperature.
If you like your green teas robust then you will love this one as well.
#13 CHAGANJU- Japanese Kukicha Twig Loose Leaf Green Tea
This outstanding green tea is imported directly from Uji, Kyoto, Japan. This is an incredibly unique tea.
Many parts of the tea plant that are thrown out from most other tea are left in to steep with the tea leaves. Hence the name twig tea.
The caffeine content of this tea is much lower than most other green tea. That means you can get a somewhat decaffeinated green tea without the processing involved in normal decaffeination.
The Taste and Aroma
There is a slightly nutty, slightly sweet flavor for this green tea. The unique taste really comes from the stems and twigs mixed in with the leaves.
They give you one of the best green tea experiences that you can find.
The aroma also benefits from the stems of the tea plant. It has a slightly woody or nutty smell along with a nice grassy fragrance. Kukicha Twig Loose Leaf Green Tea(*affiliate link), Check price on Amazon. is a unique and wonderful green tea experience.
The steeping tea accentuates the out of the bag aroma and flows beautifully into the taste.
The steeping temperature of 70 to 80 degrees is recommended. the steeping time is less than a minute.
This particular brand is very susceptible to overstepping leaving a very unpleasant tea when it is done improperly.
I like to let it steep for about 45 seconds. Any more and I feel like the bitterness goes up exponentially. But find your sweet spot and enjoy one of the most unique green teas available.
What To Look For In A Green Tea
There are a few factors to look for when buying green tea. Many of the bagged, blended green teas are going to taste very similar.
I find Bigalow green to taste very much like Lipton green tea for example. I enjoy them. But they don’t have anything distinctive about them.
They are purposefully non-offensive to anyone. But fresh, loose leaf green tea has its own personality based on a variety of factors.
Single source teas have the most personality. Finding the region that suits your tastes the best is part of the fun of discovering new green tea.
Look At The Leaves
This is a tricky one. You are most likely only going to get a look at the leaves once you buy the tea. Sure there are images of them on most stores like Amazon. But you can’t really get a good look at them until you open up the bag.
Depending on the type of tea the leaves have a distinct look. Gunpowder green tea looks like a little pellet and dramatically opens as it steeps. Some laves have distinct veins through the leaves and look very fresh.
Once you gain experience in what to look for you will instinctively know what a good green tea leaf looks like for each type of tea.
Unfortunately, there are so many types of leaves and teas that you could never give a full account of each one of them with any type of brevity.
Check For 100% Organic Certified Tea
Certified organic green tea is something you can look for in your green teas. I try to always look for teas that are certified. It is not a necessity, however. There are plenty of green teas that are not organic certified that taste just fine.
But, in my opinion, a tea that is certified organic is the way to go. For the simple reason that I think they taste better.
That could just be a placebo but at this point, I always go for certified organic green tea.
Look For Fair Trade Tea
Fairtrade tea follows the fair trade guidelines set in place to help protect developing countries from being taken advantage of by larger more developed nations.
Fairtrade means that the people who actually grow the tea are going to get a fair deal when it comes to work and wages.
Again, this is not a requirement for a great green tea. But it is something I always look for and frankly I cannot remember the last time I saw a tea that was not fair trade. Everyone seems to be on board with this nowadays.
And the entire tea industry is better for it I believe.
The Region It Is Grown In
The region that the green tea is grown in is paramount to the flavor, smell, texture, and overall experience of each tea.
Each region has its own distinct aroma even within a country. Green tea from Japan is going to have a very different signature than one from China for example.
There are some common themes, but nothing is absolute. Japanese Sencha, for example, has a bit more of a grassy flavor than a green tea from the Indian Himalayas.
Knowing where your green tea comes from will give you an insight into what you should expect from the overall experience of the tea.
The Big Finish
These are just the beginning of the great green teas. I narrowed it down as much as I could and inevitably left some wonderful green teas off this list.
And we didn’t even touch on Matcha Green Teas. The point is that this is only my list. Yours may be much much different.
That is the beauty of tea. Like any other art, its worth is in the eye of the beholder.
Find your perfect cup of tea if you can. I have not, and I hope I never will. Because the journey to that perfect cup is the fun part. That is where you really want to be.
Tasting and testing and smelling and inspecting each and every bag of green tea you can get your hands one.
Loose leaf, bagged, powder. Try it all I say. And when you find one you love, set it free and find others to try.
You’ll come back to the great ones, rest assured.
Thanks for reading.
I hope to see you all again soon and have a wonderful day.