A group of Japanese researchers (J. Agri. Food Chem. 2007, 231) has recently shown that the ranking of Japanese green tea can be predicted by careful analysis of several compounds. In the resulting model used for the predictions it turned out that sucrose and glucose contents were most important in predicting the quality of green tea, followed by quinic acid, fructose and caffeine.
(Photo by entso at flickr.com)
Based on this it is tempting to speculate whether the addition of small amounts of sucrose and glucose could improve green tea of lesser quality? Certainly this will not improve the volatiles of the tea, but perhaps it could still improve the overall impression? The amount of sugar should be very small – we are talking about milligrams, not grams.
My first guess would be: no, this will not improve the tea. But with peppermint tea I have noticed that a little sugar greatly improves the aroma. Could the same be the case for green japanese tea?
Having been stuck in Shanghai for quite a while I noticed some peculiar green tea habits: The leaves are used for the better part of 3 days, getting a hot refill every time someone in the room wants to refill his cup (plastic cup/polystyrene cup would be more to the truth). I noted 2 different kinds of green tea qualities: The bad one which would not rehydrate even after 10 infusions and the good one which seems to come to be alive after 3 infusions (like water-cress flowing in a stream). The good quality stuff (usually sold in airtight aluminum bags) has some residual sweetness even on the second day (10+ infusions), so just spraying the green tea with sucrose and glucose will not help to improve the “˜long-term’ tasting results. Thus adding a few sugar crystals to each of the later infusions should lead to better results.
My Chinese hosts told me, that they always taste the third infusion when assessing the quality of green tea. Because my Chinese leaves something to be desired, I used price and packaging as a proxy for quality when shopping for green tea-it was definitely quicker!
raking or ranking