Japanese teas are some of the most popular tea varieties in the world, but have you ever wondered why? There must be a reason behind Japan being the world’s second-highest consumer of green tea. The Japanese consume approximately 80,000 tons of this every year – let alone all the other exotic variants of tea available in the country.
Some Japanese teas have a long history with Japan, going back hundreds of years. This means that the Japanese people have been perfecting their craft for ages. In fact, in Japan, they even participate in tea ceremonies that are beautiful and elaborate celebrations around Japanese tea time etiquette.
These traditions were created by Japan’s most prominent Buddhist monks who wanted to give thanks to nature after meditating or praying throughout the day from sunrise until sunset.
In this article, we will explore some of the most popular Japanese teas so that you can get a better understanding and appreciation for them.
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Where to Get the Best Teas in Japan
The Japanese have a rich history of being one of the most respected producers of fine-quality non-alcoholic drinks in the world. It is no surprise that Japan is home to some excellent, high-quality green and black teas. Yes, you can get them in many different parts of the world. However, the intensity of the flavor and the overall taste may not be as unique as the variants found in Japan.
Hence, due to the extreme popularity of these beverages, Japan plays host to several iconic tea producers and suppliers. If you want a one-stop solution for obtaining various types of green tea, organizations like IKKYU can help you out perfectly. IKKYU Premium Green Tea from Japan is renowned worldwide because of the lofty standards maintained by them for years now.
On top of that, even if you are not on the hunt for a specific brand of tea, you can get a fair idea of the unique tea types available in such marketplaces. Take a quick tour of the IKKYU website and, chances are, you would not have to look through any other portals for information regarding green tea. Do your research, and you will not be disappointed by a lack of information. After all, this is Japan – one of the most prominent tea suppliers in the world.
Best Japanese Teas to Try Out
If you are looking to buy Japanese teas, whether for special occasions or simply for enjoying yourself, there is a lot of information out there about where to look and who has the best prices.
Though knowing about the contents of your cup certainly adds to the experience, it is often the process by which the tea is brewed that can have just as much influence upon its taste.
Luckily, most tea packages include the perfect brewing techniques that, if properly followed, will get you the best results. Let us take a closer look at some of the most popular Japanese teas that you must try out at least once in your life.
Ask any Japanese citizen what the most popular tea in the country is, and, chances are, the answer will be Sencha. It is generally known that the Sencha leaves extracts to enhance the immune system of the body and greatly help the consumer stay energized throughout the day.
The Sencha plant needs extensive sunlight to grow – leading to an abundance of vitamin C within. Some farmers may decide to keep the leaves under some shade for a couple of days before going for the harvest, but this is experimental and not the ideal method followed by all. It is considered to be the perfect tea to start the day with, and the apparent earthy flavor does add to the essence of the morning.
After harvest, farmers steam the younger leaves to disallow oxidation – which is the primary reason for leaves turning black and taking a turn towards becoming black tea. The older leaves also have significant use as they end up becoming Bancha, another variant of tea that is highly popular among the Japanese. Bancha, also regarded as “second flush,” is a low-quality version of the Sencha with lower levels of infused caffeine.
Sencha itself has a few layers of classification depending on the amount of steaming done on the leaves. The lightly steamed version is known as Asamushicha, and the moderately steamed one is called Chuumushicha. The strongest flavor is attained by heavy steaming, with the result being named Fukamushicha.
A powdered green tea, Matcha, is made from Tencha or shade-grown leaves of Gyokuro. The bright green color and delicious, savory flavor of Matcha are derived from the same shade-grown leaves utilized to make Gyokuro. As
Matcha is derived entirely from the whole tea leaf, it contains a larger concentration of some of the healthy elements found in green tea, which includes certain cancer-fighting antioxidants and theanine.
The striking aspect of Matcha farming lies in the fact that no direct sunlight is needed. The plants are kept under a shade throughout the time of growth, which is usually 3 to 4 weeks. Afterward, the harvesting is done by detaching all the veins and stalks from them.
The outcome is smooth and ideal for this variant of Japanese tea. Different grades of Matcha can be obtained from retail outlets. Examples include industrial grade, culinary grade, and ceremonial grade.
Matcha also has a considerably higher caffeine content than ordinary green tea. When blended in hot water, ceremonial grade Matcha may be consumed alone. Particular brands of Matcha can be infused into other beverages like lattes and smoothies for extra taste. Matcha can also be integrated with edibles like cakes and baked products.
One of the most remarkable things about Matcha is the fact that it contains more caffeine than coffee itself. A single teaspoon may hold around 70mg of caffeine which is at least 5 mg higher than regular espresso coffee. In terms of raw power derived from the components, Matcha is over 130 times more effective than regular brewed tea. The abundance of chlorophyll helps with detoxifying the blood and digestive tracts that help in reducing problems associated with bad breath.
Other benefits of consuming Matcha include reduced blood pressure, slow aging, controlled blood sugar levels, and an overall boost in the body’s metabolism.
The Hojicha tea is ideally made from roasting a tea plant’s stems and leaves. Ideally, you would expect green tea to be steamed, but that’s not the case with the famous Hojicha of Japan. Roasting makes the tea unique and tastes different from almost any other variation of tea in the world!
Flavorwise, the Hojicha tea emanates a toasty, almost nutty, essence. There is a hint of sweetness that you can start sensing after taking a few sips and getting used to the aroma. The color is caramel mostly, although it will depend on your customizations.
The Hojicha tea is exactly the opposite of Matcha when it comes to caffeine concentration. Although the distinctive roasting procedure does not alter the beneficial effects of the tea, it does destroy the caffeine and the general harshness.
The low caffeine concentration also makes the Hojicha perfect for iced tea. The level of roasting determines how light or toasty the flavor would turn out to be. Due to these reasons, Hojicha is adored by children and adults whose caffeine consumption is limited.
Hojicha roasted green tea contains higher levels of catechins, which boost the body’s metabolism and help to promote weight reduction by increasing calorie expenditure. The antioxidants in green tea aid in the regulation of cholesterol and blood pressure.
This reduces the likelihood of strokes, heart diseases, and inflammation of the major arteries. Hojicha tea also contains Vitamin E, which helps prevent blood clots.
The health benefits alone make it a staple in a lot of kitchens, and the popularity is growing by the day. Be it relieving joint pain or battling a cold – the Japanese Hojicha tea does it all.
Gyokuro is among the more expensive Japanese teas, but evidently, it does repay the price with its umami-rich taste and a distinct hint of sweetness that is not faint, and yet, not too loud either. The overall wholesome taste of the Gyokuro originates from the process of the harvesting process.
Farmers tend to delay picking the leaves by allowing them time in the shade for a while. This leads to a lack of photosynthesis which, in turn, promotes the accumulation of L-Theanine. This is a form of amino acid and is the main contributor to the taste of Gyokuro. It is a classy tea and is a good gift option or a treat idea for your guests. The generic packages they come in are also quite flashy and fit for such occasions.
The tea has a bunch of health benefits as well. It is a strong defense against tooth decay as it contains high concentrations of fluoride and necessary minerals for good oral health. Even the teeth start looking brighter after prolonged consumption, and quite rightfully so. The increased levels of fluoride keep the bacteria count down – keeping bad breath at bay.
Gyokuro also assists with diabetes. It can keep blood sugar levels in check, avoiding complications associated with the disease. It can also assist in the management of illnesses like hepatitis. It may help stimulate the liver and protect it from harmful chemicals like alcohol. Healthcare professionals always recommend looking for alternatives to alcohol – green tea being one of the best options to go for.
Regular consumption of Gyokuro tea is beneficial for the heart. It aids in the removal of fatty deposits from the arteries, which can lead to all sorts of heart disease. Gyokuro tea may be helpful for individuals who have had a prior heart condition or are at high risk of developing heart disease.
Genmaicha brown rice green tea is a well-known Japanese tea with more health benefits than people tend to realize. Genmaicha is mostly created by combining sencha green tea with roasted brown rice kernels.
The toasted rice particles give it a distinct nutty flavor and balance the sharpness of green tea. It is combined with a toasted rice scent that is very calming and relaxing. The caffeine concentration is also quite low in Genmaicha tea.
The thyroid is a small endocrine gland that controls the hormone production and metabolism of your body. Selenium found in Genmaicha helps to regulate the number of thyroid hormones present in the body. A recurring lack of it can cause your thyroid to produce strange quantities of hormones, which can lead to fatigue, poor vision, or insomnia.
Additionally, the polyphenols naturally present in Genmaicha helps in detoxifying the body, as well as providing the liver with valuable antioxidants. Sencha tea is generally mixed with Genmaicha – which contributes to a boost in your immune system.
A fun aspect of Genmaicha tea is that its name (which is Japanese) translates to “brown rice tea.” It is also called the “people’s tea,” as during trying times, roasted rice can be added to this tea to stretch supplies for a prolonged period of consumption.
Japan is considered one of the best places to drink tea in the entire world. A lot of the cultural aspects regarding food and diet revolve around the consumption of tea in this country. Thus, it is not a bad idea to plan a trip to the land of the rising sun, just for the sake of diving into the many unique flavors of tea the country has to offer.