Different types of japanese green tea and their taste and health benefits
First of all some gerneral facts about green tea itself:
Green tea is the unfermented type of tea. That means the fermentation process is stopped by either steaming(japanese) or roasting/panning (chinese). That keeps the leaves green, contrary to black tea.
In Japan, the most produced and drunk tea is sencha. But you have many more different types that will be explained further.
The most known tea-growing regions in Japan are Kagoshima, Shizuoka and Uji.
The latter is also well known for its famous Matcha(powdered green tea)
Green Tea offers a lot of health benefits, such as:
- Positive influence to your digestion
- lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- strengthening your immune system and avoiding getting colds
- inhibiting carcinogens and thereby cancer
- Feeling calm and relaxed, by lowering stress
- Loosing weight by increasing fat burning
- Protecting from dooth decay
- Restoring your body’s pH-level
Kukicha is a blend that consists mostly of stems and stalks that are discarded from the sencha production. If the stems and stalks are taken from the gyokuro production, the tea is called karigane, and has therefore a higher quality and a higher price.
The taste can be described as very clean and mild, but also has some creaminess.
Brewing recommendation: Water temperature between 70 and 80 degrees.
1st infusion: 40seconds, 2nd infusion 15seconds and 3rd infusion 30 seconds
Leaf to water ratio:1tbsp/250ml
The leaves for bancha grow after the harvest of sencha and are harvested in 3 different periods.
Nibancha is harvested in June, Sanbancha in August and yonbancha in october.
The taste is more earthy than sencha, with more astringency and less fragrancy than sencha.
But it contains a lot of flouride and is perfect to drink after a meal.
Brewing recommendation: Water temperature: 80 degrees
1st infusion: 30seconds-60seconds 2nd infusion 15seconds with boiling water
Hojicha is produced from roasted bancha or sencha.
The leaves become brownish from the heat and the taste develops toasty, buttery and almost creamy.
Because of the roasting process, the tea contains less caffeine and is even enjoyable in the evening and very recommended for older people and children. Its also friendly to your stomach.
Brewing recommendation: Water temperature: 80degrees Leaf to water ratio: 1g/30ml
Steeping time: 1-3 minutes depending on the intensity you want
This tea is a combination of bancha and roasted/popped brown rice.
The taste can be described as fresh and grassy with a malty and nutty finish.
Brewing recommendation: Unlike other green teas, Genmaicha can be steeped with boiling water and for 30 seconds. That will bring out the best aroma from it.
Leaf to water ratio: 1g/30ml
Sencha is Japan’s most popular tea and has a wide range of varieties.
You can distinguish 3 types of sencha depending of their steaming-level during the production process:
Asamushi-cha, Chumushi-cha and fukamushi cha.
The first is low steamed, the second is mid-steamed and the third is deep-steamed. They vary in taste, but overall they all have a natural sweetness, mild astringency and some grassiness.
Brewing recommendation: Water temperature: 70 degrees
Leaf to water ratio: 1-1,5g/30ml
1st infusion: 40-45seconds, 2nd infusion: instant pour-5seconds, 3rd infusion: 1minute and slightly hotter water
Kabusecha is Sencha, that gets shaded with special nets(kabuse) 10days prior to the harvest.
The result is a mellower taste and more sweetness than regular sencha.
Brewing recommendation: Water Temperature: 60 degrees
Leaf to water ratio: 1-2g/30ml
Steeping time: 1-2 minutes
The name of this tea can be translated as „jade dew“. It is one of the highest grades of green tea and can be very expensive.
Gyokuro is shaded about 20days. In this time the plants produce much L-theanine.
L-theanine is an amino acid, that transforms through photosynthesis to catechins.
Thats why the tea has its own characteristic taste. Mellow, sweet and full of umami(savory)
The correct brewing is more difficult than for other teas:
Brewing recommendation: Water Temperature: 50 degrees
Leaf/water ratio: 1-3gr/30ml
Steeping time for the 1st infusion: 2-3minutes , 2nd infusion: 15-30seconds, 3rd infusion: 1minute and slightly hotter water(60degrees)
This powdered tea is used in the formal Japanese tea ceremony.
The tea leaves taken for the grinding process are called tencha. When you prepare Matcha, you drink the whole leaf in its powdered form and therefore you get all the healthy benefits.
You can prepare it in 2 different ways: as usucha(thin tea) or koicha(thick tea)
But it depends on the tea you bought, if you can brew it as usucha,koicha or both.
For preparing matcha you need the following utensils:
tea bowl(chawan), bamboo spoon(chashaku), tea whisk(chasen)and the tea itself.
For usucha take 2 spoons of sifted matcha and place it into your chawan.
Then pour 70ml of 70degree hot water into the teabowl and whisk the matcha until you get a thick froth with many tiny bubbles on the surface. Then you can enjoy it.
For Koicha take 3-4 spoons of sifted matcha and 40ml of 70 degree hot water.
The consistency will be much thicker and thats why you have to knead the tea instead of whisking it. You also need a chasen with lesser but thicker prongs, thats suitable for koicha.
Note that this tea contains a great amount of caffeine, and will keep you awake for several hours.
Thats why buddhist monks in past and present drink it before their meditation. It avoids falling asleep during long meditation exercises.
One last information if you want to enjoy the real taste of the tea you bought:
make sure you use soft water or buy a water filter, that makes the hard water softer(lower in minerals) because that will enhance the taste immensely.
Recommended tea shop from japan: https://www.hibiki-an.com/
from germany: http://www.gruener-tee-koyamaen.de/