It is not so difficult to get Japanese green tea worldwide.
Japanese green tea is packed with a refreshing aroma, umami flavor, astringency, and bitterness.
Today, I would like to tell you about a variety of types of Japanese green tea that you’ll see lots of kinds when traveling in Japan.
If you want to drink Japanese tea as a trigger to Japanese culture, if you like tea and want to try Japanese tea, or if you already like Japanese tea, I would like you to refer to this page.
Before jumping into the topic, read here to learn the powerful Japanese green tea health benefits as well.
Generally, it is “sencha” green tea when we refer to green tea or often found in grocery stores.
Sencha green tea is the most popular and casual tea daily to drink.
Furthermore, there are more types of sencha green tea depending on the processes of growing, harvesting, and manufacturing.
Yet, you don’t need to be so nervous about “sencha” green tea when you know it is a casual daily tea.
Shizuoka Prefecture, Nishio-city in Aich, Uji area in Kyoto, and Kumamoto Prefecture are generally known for green tea production in Japan and each production area has its own unique characteristics.
Sencha tea leaves are finely twisted into needles and sharp, and the tea leaves are dark green and glossy.
A clear and light green tea with a refreshing aroma and flavor.
ICHIBAN-CHA refers to the first flush tea, and NIBAN-CHA refers to the second flush tea.
*ICHIBAN literally means number 1, and NIBAN means number 2.
Generally, green tea leaves in Japan are harvested a few times a year around.
Especially, green tea harvested from April to May goes to “Ichibancha”. It is also sold as “Shin-Cha.” (Shin literally means ‘New”.)
Ichiban-Cha is commonly recognized as nice quality green tea since it is mild soft astringency and bitter and has a refreshing rich flavor.
After the first flush and about 45 days later, new shoots coming up and continue growing.
Green tea harvested second round is called NIBAN-CHA.
Tea leaves become mature compared with Ichiban-cha and you can enjoy a robust green tea flavor.
Bancha refers to a lower market grade of green tea that is made from mature tea leaves instead of young leaves.
The taste is refreshing, not bitter, and very easy to drink.
Fukamush-Cha (Deep Steamed-Tea)
Deep-steamed green tea-Fukamushi-cha in Japanese is a sencha green tea that has been steamed longer than general sencha green tea during the manufacturing process.
Speaking of producing sencha green tea, the harvested tea leaves are steamed to prevent leaves from oxidation and remove the grassy taste.
While general sencha green tea is steamed for 30 to 40 seconds, deep-steamed sencha is steamed for a minute or longer.
Deep-steamed tea, which has been steamed longer in the manufacturing process, does not have a strong grassy aroma, is mild with little astringency, and has a rich, deep green color.
Hoji-Cha (Roasted Green Tea)
a green tea that is roasted sencha or bancha tea over high heat.
Since it is roasted at a high temperature, it contains less amino acids (umami components) and catechins (astringency), as well as less caffeine (bitterness) and vitamin C than Sencha, Gyokuro, or Matcha green tea.
It has a rich toasty aroma and strong refreshing flavor, it’s recommended after meals or before going to bed.
Personally, I like HOJICHA the best in Japanese green tea.
Toasty, strong flavor and aroma, and is super refreshing.
Besides, brewing HOJICHA doesn’t need its picky tips such as water temperature and brewing time.
“Genmai-Cha” is a popular casual green tea made by mixing sencha, bancha, or hojicha and toasted popped rice (and grain).
Genmaicha is less astringency and bitterness, but, it has a unique toasty flavor.
Brewing GENMAI CHA with piping hot boiled water for 30 seconds enhances its aroma and refreshing flavor.
Genami cha and Hojicha can be nice gifts even for those who don’t try Japanese green tea much because of its grassy flavor since these green tea have a unique toasty flavor.
GURICHA is officially called Tamaryoku-Cha and is commonly produced in the central and northern Kyushu region.
Unlike other green tea, tea leaves have a round and curled paisley shape.
GURICHA, TAMARYOKUCHA has a deep steaming process so the flavor becomes mild with less astringency.
Gyokuro production is much smaller than sencha tea besides, it takes much more effort to produce Gyokoro green tea.
Generally, the Sencha green tea tree is grown under direct sunlight, but, Gyokuro green tea tree is grown under the cover for a while against direct light.
Gyokuro, which takes a lot of time and effort to grow, is only cultivated in a limited number of production areas- three major production areas: Uji in Kyoto, Yame in Fukuoka, and Okabe in Shizuoka.
Gyokuro green tea has a rich strong flavor.
Less astringency and bitterness since it has packed with amino acids which is considered as UMAMI flavor.
High-quality, rich, delicious green tea sounds really good and you may want to make another one, yet, Gyokuro green tea contains high levels of caffeine if you want to consider it.
MATCHA & TENCHA
This well-known green tea powder-MATCHA has a long history as a tea drink in Sado (Japanese tea ceremony).
About 800 years ago, it started in the early Kamakura period when Zen masters brought back tea seeds from China.
The tea ceremony called Sado (茶道), rooted in the Zen spirit, was established as a culture.
As you know, the tea ceremony culture is one of the unique spiritual cultures of Japan.
Beyond the ceremony drink, Matcha became the popular drink menu in cafes and restaurants worldwide.
Since the Japanese food trend and attention to its health benefits, MATCH is no longer Japanese green tea just in Japan.
Matcha is almost too popular as Japanese green tea, do you know Tencha? Tencha is the raw material for matcha. Matcha is made by carefully grounding Tencha with a stone mortar.
So, what’s Tencha?
Like gyokuro, Tencha green tea leaves are cultivated under the cover against the direct sun, and the green tea becomes less astringency while enhancing the umami of the soft, vivid green tea leaves.
Despite Tencha is not well-known, it is a luxury Japanese green tea that you can enjoy authentic green tea.
Simply, brew Tencha green tea leaves for 3 minutes with the boiled water at 50-60 C temperature.
Also, you can enjoy it as MATCHA after grinding well.
KUKI-CHA (TWIG TEA)
There is a type of Japanese tea called kukicha which is called twig tea in English. This tea is made from twigs and stems of tea trees so that tea leaves are shaped like a stick.
KUKICHA is a general term for twig tea, and there are various types.
For example, sencha kukicha, which is made using the stems of sencha tea leaves, karigane-bo-cha and gyokuro kukicha, which are made using the stems of tea leaves used to make gyokuro, and kuki-houjicha, which is made by roasting kukicha.
Kukicha has a mellow and sweet flavor.
Thus, refreshing sweet mild flavor is great for those who don’t like grassy green tea flavor.
Brew KUKI-CHA with boiled water at 80-90C for about 2 minutes.
Besides, you can enjoy cold-brew KUKICHA after brewing tew leaves in cold water for 4-5 hours.
MUGICHA (BARLEY TEA)
Barley tea is not made with green tea leaves, yet, it is a popular summer drink, especially for kids.
Learn all about Barley Tea including its health benefits, and how to brew.
Not only is its natty refreshing taste but also has many health benefits such as heatstroke prevention.