If you’ve only tried cheap, bagged green tea, you likely think the brew is kind of tasteless at best and bitter at worst. But Mellow Monk’s Top Leaf Green Tea is one eco-friendly drink that can turn skeptics into converts with its gentle but distinctly earthy flavor. The company sent me some of its Top Leaf tea to try — and I loved it.

Top Leaf tea is an organically grown tea from Japan that defines the word mellow. Don’t confuse mellow with bland or lazy, however. The subtle flavors in this tea are richly satisfying and actually TASTE green — a relaxing green taste with a hint of spirulina and citrus.

The Top Leaf tea leaves are picked from the top layer of young tea leaves — which I believe have the highest caffeine content. However, I didn’t get a caffeine kick at all, perhaps because my body is too used to my four-cups-a-day coffee habit.

All of Mellow Monk’s teas are grown by indie artisan estates — all family owned and operated, and all certified eco-friendly under the Japanese government’s Eco Farmer Program — in the Kumamoto district of Kyushu in rural Japan. The tea is not USDA organic certified, as the farmers don’t see the need to get U.S. certification when their local buyers expect and know their teas to be grown organically, according to Paul Kotta of Mellow Monk. For Americans seeking a nod of eco-approval from a recognizable organization, Mellow Monk is Green America approved.

Find Mellow Monk teas online at Mellow Monk’s web store. And once your tea arrives, remember to brew it properly. Heat (Mellow Monk recommends 167 degrees Fahrenheit) but don’t boil the water, or the tea will taste bitter. Let the tea steep for three minutes for your first cup — then be sure enjoy a second and third cup with the same leaves to experience different flavors and aromas before throwing the leaves in the compost bin. Each 3.5-ounce bag of Top Leaf tea costs $14.75 — and brews 40-50 cups of tea.

See also:

Benefits of green tea

Mellow out with a green, green tea
Mellow Monk's earthy green teas are grown organically by family farmers in Japan -- and taste deliciously healthy too.