How does Japanese Green Tea differ from any other?
Japan is famous for its unique styles of green tea. Most types of Japanese teas are briefly steamed as opposed to pan-fired Chinese tea styles. The result is a vegetal, umami cup of tea, full of aroma and amino acids. The best Japanese green teas have a distinctive bright emerald color and rich, brothy flavor with subtle notes of seaweed and ocean iodine.
The Japanese Art Of Tea
Green tea is omnipresent in Japan. Once served only to Buddhist monks, aristocrats, and warriors, it became widespread. Now, it is a part of the nation’s culture with its own traditions and rituals. Japanese Tea Ceremony is an ancient form of art and a spiritual way to commune with nature and with friends.
Why is it so expensive?
Japanese green tea is not exactly cheap, and there are some valid reasons for this. Japan is a small, densely populated country, hence the skyrocketing price of the agricultural land. Add to this labor cost of highly skilled tea workers and limited availability of Japanese tea. Japanese produce only about 10% of the world’s green tea and leave most of it for themselves. Japanese tea constitutes less than 2% of all exported green tea in the world.
Types Of Japanese Green Tea
Most of the tea consumed in Japan is green, and it is simply referred to as ocha (tea). That being said, Japanese green tea has assorted types and flavors that vary significantly depending on numerous factors. Here are some of them:
- growing regions
- methods of production
- time of harvesting
- parts of the tea plant used for the tea production
Which Japanese green tea is the best?
The world of Japanese green tea is diverse, and we encourage you to get lost in it! But if you’re intimidated by the immense variety in flavor, texture, and aroma (and, of course, the price of the tea), here’s a quick summary.
- If you like a sweet and mellow cuppa, go for a Japanese green tea grown in the shade. Popular choices are Gyokuro and Matcha, both featuring high levels of theanine. Gyokuro, in particular, is an exquisite umami-flavored tea and is priced accordingly.
- If you prefer crisper notes, go for a refreshing cup of Sencha. This tea is grown in full sunlight and is rich in antioxidants.
- The Japanese have also developed creative green teas, and tea blends using lower grade leaves or by mixing twigs, stems, or toasted grains with the tea leaves. Kukicha, Hojicha, and Genmaicha are popular examples. They all have earthy flavor profiles with wonderful toasty and nutty notes.
Where to buy the best Japanese green tea online?
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One of the best brands that offer quality and authentic Japanese teas online is Art of Tea. You will not find a vast assortment of teas here; instead, there is a selective collection of premium products. This brand is not exactly cheap, but this is for a reason: only the best, highest quality Japanese teas here!
Here are two distinctive products that we love the most.
One is Matchasticks & Matcha Shaker Bundle. It offers you an easy way to make Matcha on-the-go. Great for travel or preparing tea in the office. It would make for an amazing gift to any tea lover.
Another absolute favorite is Kyoto Tea. The wedded bliss of Genmaicha and Matcha is delicious in this tea. We are obsessed with the unique nutty flavor of roasted brown rice and its savory taste. The brew smells amazing!
Here are more Japanese tea options for you. All are offered by the most reputable tea brands online and consistently scoring positive customer reviews.
Organic Powdered Matcha Green Tea, Liquid Jade
Grown in Uji, which is regarded as the center of Matcha production. Matcha, has a rich history and a special spiritual significance. It has traditionally been prepared in 'Chanoyu', the Japanese Tea Ceremony, and it said to help bring about mental concentration, emotional stability and composure.
Organic Genmaicha, Brown Rice Tea
Genmaicha is a traditional and popular Japanese green tea. It is also known as 'Brown Rice Tea', as it is a blend of steamed green tea and toasted rice. A special varietal of rice known as 'Mochi-Gome' is used in making Genmaicha. Upon roasting, this varietal develops a deep golden color. It sometimes 'pops' into white kernels similar to popcorn. Genmaicha is judged by the quality and grade of the green tea leaves (high grades are made with select Sencha leaf) and by the flavor and quality of the toasted rice (organic is preferred). Both must be blended in proportions that create a balanced flavor.
Bancha Tea Organic (Japan)
Plucked and produced according to ancient Japanese tradition, this is the tea to recommend the next time you are asked for something easy drinking, at any time of day. In Japan, Bancha's ancestral home, this grassy green brew has long been considered the journeyman of teas and is the cup of tea most commonly consumed. Bancha itself is notable for the fact that it is plucked from the same bushes as Sencha, arguably the best-known Japanese variety on the international stage. The difference is that the leaves used to produce Bancha are typically plucked and harvested later, after Sencha season, resulting in a coarser appearance that often includes some stalk and stem. The coarse quality of the loose leaf gives the tea a unique character, milder infusion and lowered caffeine and tannin levels compared to many finer grade green teas. Bancha Tea has a light, refreshing flavor, with a mildly vegetal finish. It's your everyday drink: toasty, energetic, and strong.
More tea, please!
Isabelle is a freelance writer, self-taught tea nerd, and tea blending enthusiast. She is a herbalist with a strong interest in Ayurveda. Each year Isabelle travels extensively, returning with tea samples from around the world. She is a big fan of handmade teaware and Japanese green teas.