According to legend, green tea was first brewed in 2737 BC during the reign of Emperor Shennong in China. The leaves of the camellia sinensis plant were simply steeped in hot water, it was tea in its most natural form.
The lower quality green tea is, the hotter the water and longer it should be steeped to get the right flavour taste, whereas higher quality teas are steeped at a cooler temperature and for a shorter time, often two or three quick steepings. Beware not to steep green tea too hot or too long as it will result in a bitter, astringent brew, due to it releasing an excessive amount of tannins. The teapot should also be warmed beforehand to avoid the tea cooling down. It is common practice for tea leaf to be left in the cup or pot and for hot water to be added as the tea is drunk until the flavour degrades.
Oolong and black tea were created much later than green tea, around the 1600s. Black tea is a fermented version of green tea and Oolong is a semi fermented version.
The consumption of green tea began to spread through Asia, beginning with Japan, around 800AD. The Japanese contributed much to green tea by offering different variations on the tea leaves that are still enjoyed today. Green tea became an integral part of Japanese culture with their famous tea ceremonies. This formalised presentation of tea drinking has become an art form in both Japan and China.
Tea spread through the world, with black tea being more popular in western countries, until recently when the fresh, invigorating taste of green tea has been discovered and embraced by western countries. Tang The Asian Food Emporium carry a great range of green teas, oolong tea and China black tea.