It surprises many people new to tea to learn that green tea and black tea originate from the same exact plant species—Camellia sinensis. It’s ultimately the variety of tea plant and how the tea leaves are processed that defines how green tea becomes “green” and black tea becomes “black”
For green tea, the tea leaves are harvested from the Camellia sinensis plant and are then quickly heated—by pan firing or steaming—and dried to prevent too much oxidation from occurring that would turn the green leaves brown and alter their fresh-picked flavour.
A brewed green tea is typically green, yellow or light brown in colour, and its flavour profile can range from grass-like and toasted (pan fired) to vegetal, sweet and seaweed-like (steamed). If brewed correctly, most green tea should be quite light in colour and only mildly astringent.
How green tea you’re brewing tastes will depend on many factors, including where it was grown, how it was processed and even how it was brewed.
However, there are some common traits used to describe the overall flavour profile of the green tea category, including vegetal, grassy, earthy, sweet, buttery, nutty, toasty, seaweed-like, broth-y, lush, green and herbaceous.