What is Japanese Tea?

Japanese green tea inoue tea
In Japan, you will notice that may different kinds of tea are produced. Including, oolong, black tea, pan-fired green tea and fermented tea. You will also notice that the production volumes of these fermented teas are in very small batches. Most of the tea produced in Japan is green tea.

When processing green tea, the fresh leaves are first heated or steamed to deactivate the enzymes, which are crucial to preventing oxidation. Steaming is a common Japanese technique that contributes to a unique Japanese taste experience.

An important factor when it comes to processing Japanese tea is that the process is done so as to preserve the natural umami and flavor or the fresh tea leaves. Both freshness and savory are flavor components that are praised and sought afer in Japan's tea culture, which is also reflected in their cuisine. Fresh aroma leads to a rich sensation, and through different steeping methods, new ways of brewing can be discovered.

Four Essential Elements of Japanese Teas

Umami - Umami is usually described as the richness or savoriness in food. Considered a taste element that grants Japanese Tea its uniqueness. "Ichibancha" which is the tea from first harvest, is considered to be of high quality and full of umami.

Bitterness - At first, many may be suprised by this element, but just like coffee and dark chocolate, bitterness plays an important role in Japanese Teas. Caffeine and catechins play a crucial role, as these compounds dissolve easily in hot water. Therefore, a key note when it comes to steeping Japanese Tea is to cool down the water to prevent excessive bitterness from overtaking the natural flavor of the tea.

Astringency - Different from bitterness, astringency is the tactile sensation which allows for a pleasant aftertaste that lasts long after the tea has been consumed.

Sweetness - Sweetness compounds in Japanese Tea dissolve faster than bitterness and astringency elements; thus the first steep is usually rich in natural sweetness.