Chinese Tea Categories: Green Teas

C h i n e s e T e a C a t e g o r i e s : G r e e n T e a s

China is the global leader in tea for 2 main reasons. One is the sheer volume of tea produced, but the other reason is the wide variety of types of tea created. Even beyond the larger categories- green, black, yellow, dark, white, and oolong, the combinations of locations and processing styles create multiple sub-categories of teas with their distinctive character and appeal.

Under the Chinese system of classifying teas, for example, green teas are further defined by production styles:

  1. Steamed green (蒸青)
  2. Sun-dried green (晒青)
  3. Pan-fired green (炒青)
  4. Basket-fired green (烘青)
Courtesy – China Tea Marketing Association:
Green categories, translated


Firsd Tea provides a popular selection of teas from several production styles

Steamed green (蒸青)

Chinese steamed green teas are known for having stronger “green” characteristics, like a brighter yellow-green liquor and grassier, more raw, leafy green flavor.

TRY: Firsd Tea offers Chinese sencha green tea, often known for having a milder, less astringent profile than Japanese steamed green teas. Chinese sencha is a preferred base tea in many green tea blends because of how well it balances with other ingredients.

Pan-fired green (炒青)

Pan-fired green teas produce a character more akin to toasted rice or a slightly nutty flavor on the lighter end, to a roasted vegetable character.

TRY: Pan-fired teas are further divided into long-shape forms (like chunmee and young hyson), round/balled (including gunpowder), and flat (e.g. dragonwell). Pan-fired green teas can be used in more pungent teas and in iced green teas that need to offer more bite. The classic example is the gunpowder green used in traditional Moroccan mint green tea.

Basket-fired green (烘青)

Basket-fired green teas can carry slight floral notes to almost bamboo or bean-like flavors. The basket firing process can place the tea further from the heat source than pan-firing methods, and the flavors of the tea take on more of a baked, rather than roasted, aspect.

TRY: Firsd Tea’s maofeng falls into the classic division of Anhui-style basket-fired green teas. It is best suited as a standalone, specialty tea.


Actually it isn’t. The diversity within green teas is as rich and colorful as the variety found in red wines, so it does pay to have at least a general familiarity with Chinese processing styles and the resulting characteristics when so many green tea options are available. Your tea vendor can help you better understand theses teas and their profiles.