Discover Japanese Tea
What is Japanese Green Tea?
Green tea is the name of a vast category of ways to cultivate and process the same plant that offers all the teas that exist today around the world: Camelia Sinensis. Black or green, steamed or roasted, the leaves are the same, although the variety (cultivar) may vary, like with wines and their grapes. In Japan, most of the tea production is green tea, 90% of it being of the sencha type.
First used by monks, and then by the samurai and noble classes, before being adopted by the general population, green tea is now a deep part of Japanese culture and traditions. It is associated with the idea of meditation, peace, quiet, self-reflection, and simply the idea of taking a break to prepare and savor the richness of a cup of well-brewed tea.
Types of Japanese Green Tea
- Sencha - Sencha (煎茶) is produced from the first and second flushes of the stem, shoot, and part of the opened leaves from the green tea plant and then steam-pressed. The tea plant for sencha is grown under full sunlight which gives the tea leaves a greenish-golden color with natural tasting notes.
- Gyokuro - Gyokuro (玉露) translates to “Jade Dew” in reference to the color of the tea leaves. It is darker in color and when brewed, it has slightly sweet umami-tasting notes. Gyokuro is considered by many to be one of the highest grades of green tea in Japan.
- Genmaicha - Genmaicha (玄米茶) is made from roasted brown rice with green tea. It produces a nutty aroma with the reduced bitterness of green tea.
- Houjicha - Hojicha (ほうじ茶) is a type of green tea that has been roasted over charcoal at a very high temperature. It carries a subtle sweetness and nutty flavor. Its history can be traced back to the 1920s when Kyoto tea merchants began roasting tea stems over charcoal. Unlike other green teas, the color of Houjicha is reddish-brown.
- Kabusecha - Kabusecha (かぶせ茶) translates to “covered tea”. This is because its production process is very similar to Gyokuro. Kabusecha is a delicious and high-grade tea but it is quite rare. Making up less than 5% of the total tea production in Japan. Kabusecha has a distinctive refreshing flavor that combines both the tasting notes of Gyokuro and Sencha.
- Kamairicha - Kamairicha (釜炒り茶) is a specialty from the Kyushu region in Japan. It is an extremely rare green tea that accounts for only 2% of all Japanese tea production. It is made by following a specific method that is centuries old by pan-frying the tea leaves in an iron vessel at temperatures 300-450°C. The tea itself has a silky body with smooth green tea-tasting notes.
- Koucha - Koucha (红茶) also known as Wakoucha contrary to green tea is an oxidized, fully fermented tea. The tea leaves are left to wilt for almost a full day and then rolled afterward for several hours. Wakoucha is called “red” in Japan and not black because of the beautiful orange hue it presents.
- Tamaryokucha - Tamaryokucha (玉緑茶) is a specialty of Kyushu, Japan. It is a very high-grade green tea commonly known as Guricha (Curly Tea). It has tasting notes of tangy, berry-like with a long almondy aftertaste. Producing deep aroma with tones of citrus, grass, and berries.
- Shiraore - Shiraore (白折) belongs to the category of “twig tea” (Kukicha). It is green tea made with parts of the tea plant. To make Shiraore, tea harvesters blend stems, stalks, and twigs, that are from the production of Gyokuro. Naturally, Shiraore is very low in caffeine and not bitter. Making it a great choice before night.
- Matcha - Matcha (抹茶) is a fine powdered green tea that is used during the tea ceremony. Matcha combines an elegant aroma and sweetness. Once the tea leaf powder is dissolved in hot water, all of the tea’s nutrients are released. Matcha symbolized the rich cultural traditions of the mindful Zen-Inspired Tea Ceremony.