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Types of Japanese tea

The Japanese have been using green tea for centuries and it has remain a huge part of their culture, there are lots of studies about its amazing properties and it’s health benefits. Green tea is unfermented tea which means that the fresh tea leaves are not oxidized during processing and the green color is retained. After the leaves are picked the leaves are steamed to deactivate the oxidizing enzymes as quickly as possible.

Once the browning has halted the leaves are rolled into thin needle shaped and dried , with this method all nutritional components are sealed and does not destroyed the vitamin C in the leaves.

This aims to guide hopeful green tea lovers in choosing and experimenting popular green teas and its distinct taste.
  • Sencha - Japan's most popular tea. Sencha have a delicate sweetness and a mild astringency. Sencha refers to the first pickling of the tea bush, which takes place from late February in warm climates to the end of May in cooler areas. Sencha is high in vitamin C and is especially popular with women as a teatime break.
  • Fukamushicha: Ideal for delicate stomachs, the leaves are steamed two or three times longer, as a result the leaves become withered and the color is also darker. The taste remains sweet and moderate and the fragrance is richer and deeper. Despite the stronger aroma it is gentle on the stomach and you can drink as many cups as you wish.
  • Kukicha: A refreshing fragrance to wake up to. Cconsists of stems and stalks normally discarded in the production of sencha, gyokuro and matcha teas. Kukicha produced from the stalks of gyokuro and is highly prized. The clean taste and light fragrance are sure to help you wake up feeling refreshed.
  • Konacha: Good for cooking with or for sprinkling over dishes. Konacha (tea powder) is the tea served at sushi restaurants where it is called "agri". It consists of the rejected buds and tea "dust" left over from the processing of sencha and gyokuro. It is reasonably priced and has a strong color flavor and aroma, making it an ideal cooking ingredients.
  • Bancha : A tea that resembles refreshes the palate after meals. After the first picking for sencha is done from late February to the end of May, new shoots and leaf buds begin to grow and these are used for bancha.Bancha leaves are picked in June, August and October, with the leaves becoming tougher with each picking. As well as the leaves, bancha includes the upper stems and some larger leaves discarded during the process of sencha production. It contains more flouride than other teas, it is effective against tooth decay and halitosis.
  • Matcha: A tea to go with desserts. Matcha is the powdered tea used in Japan's tea ceremony. The unpowdered form is called "tencha". Top grade matcha is a bright shade of green. As a rule, the lighter green varieties are sweeter and the darker ones more astringent. Matcha completely dissolves in water when well mixed and thus the leaf is all consumed providing more nutrients. A popular ingredient in savory dishes as well as desserts.

  • Gyokuro: A high-grade tea that combats fatigue. It has a sweet mild flavor because of the high levels of theanine, an amino acid generated by covering the tea bushes with reed screen two to three weeks prior to picking. This shields the leaves from direct sunlight and results in leaves that are dark green when dried. Gyokuro contains a lot of caffeine and chlorophyl. Caffeine stimulates the brain and the nervous system while chlorophyl stimulates tissue growth, resulting in healthy skin.

  • Hojicha:  A mild tea for children and those with a delicate constitution. Hojicha is produced by roasting bancha or sencha over a high heat, resulting in brownish leaves imbued with a savory fragrance. Since it contains relatively little caffeine and tannin, it is good for children, older people and those recovering from illness. it can also be served cold in the summer.

  • Genmaicha: The perfect follow-up to a rich meal. Bacha or medium-grade sencha combined with well-roasted and popped brown rice .The rice adds a slightly nutty taste and its mild flavor makes it the ideal tea to drink after a meal that includes oily or deep-fried foods, such as tempura or Chinese cuisine.
The best way to familiarize yourself with a variety of teas is to find shop that allows patron to buy small amount of many different leaves as sample, this will allow you to find new taste and select which one you really like before buying in big quantity.

Reference: Tokunaga, Mutsuko, "New Taste in Green Tea: A novel flavor for familiar drinks, dishes and desserts", 2004.

You may also be interested in reading the following articles:
 - Main Types of Tea
 - Tea- History- Tales-Tips



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