Among the teas loved in the world, green tea has been attracting attention for its health benefits in recent years. The country that produces the most green tea in the world is China, and the second is Japan. In Japan, almost 100% of tea is processed as green tea, which is familiar to Japanese people.
However, there are various types of green tea, each with a different taste, color, and aroma. What kind of tea do you think of when you hear "Japanese tea"?
This time, I will explain the types of Japanese tea among green teas. Black tea and oolong tea are exceptionally made in Japan, but since they are rarely manufactured, we will focus on green tea here.
What makes green tea different from other teas in the first place?
First, let's take a look at what the definition and classification of "green tea" looks like.
Tea made from "tea" can be divided into three types according to the degree of fermentation. Of these, unfermented tea is classified as "green tea," semi-fermented tea as "oolong tea," and fully fermented tea as "black tea."
As the name suggests, green tea has a strong image of "green tea," but the classification of green tea is defined by the "fermentation degree" of the tea leaves. Tea that is not fermented, that is, tea with a degree of fermentation of 0%, is called green tea, so it is classified as "green tea" regardless of the color of the water. In fact, some Japanese teas are yellow in color.
Types of Japanese tea
Now, let's talk about the types of Japanese tea in the main subject. In Japan, green tea is finally processed into the following teas.
- Matcha (Tencha)
- Jade Green Tea
Regarding the Japanese tea mentioned above, the production volume of each in Japan is as follows. ((2020 statistics）
|name||Production volume (t)||Production ratio (%)|
|Jade Green Tea||1,955||2.5|
As you can see, "sencha" and "bancha" account for about 85% of the total. For those who think that "Japanese tea = matcha", you may be surprised at the scarcity of matcha.
Characteristics of each tea
Let's take a closer look at these teas from the next section.
As you can see from the production volume, most Japanese tea is sencha. In fact, it is the most commonly consumed green tea among Japanese people.
By definition, tea made by "steaming and kneading" tea leaves is called sencha. After picking the tea leaves in the field, heat-treat them while they are fresh to stop the action of enzymes and prevent fermentation from proceeding.
Sencha has a well-balanced sweetness, umami, bitterness, and astringency, and is characterized by its unique refreshing and transparent aroma.
Strictly speaking, sencha is divided into "Asamushi (steaming time is short)" and "Fukamushi (steaming time is long)" according to the "steaming time", and the color and taste of water are different depending on it. For example, "lightly steamed sencha" has a color close to yellow, and "deep steamed sencha" has a deep green color.
Gyokuro is one of the most luxurious Japanese teas.
This is made by performing a process called "Hifuku" for about 3 weeks when cultivating trees. "Hifuku" is to cover the leaves with a black cloth and intentionally shade them to prevent photosynthesis. By doing so, the nutrients of the tree are condensed in the leaves and the accumulation of bitterness components is hindered. The post-harvest processing method is the same as for sencha.Compared to sencha, it takes more time to cultivate, so the price is higher.
It is characterized by its rich and rich flavor, and you can also enjoy the unique aroma called "Oika".
The brewing method is also characteristic, and it is recommended to slowly extract it in warm water at a temperature of around 60 ° C, which is lower than that of sencha, over 2 to 4 minutes.
In some parts of the Yame region of Fukuoka prefecture, traditional cultivation is still practiced, in which straw is used instead of black cloth.
As with Gyokuro, we use tea leaves that have been "hifuku". The difference is the processing method. After steaming, the leaves can be powdered by "drying" instead of "rubbing".
Not only cultivation but also processing is troublesome, and a dedicated device for powdering is required.The finest tea among Japanese teasWill be.
The taste is mellow, less bitter and astringent, rich in umami (sweetness), and has a good aftertaste. The higher the grade, the brighter the green color.
Kabusecha is cultivated in the same way as gyokuro and matcha, but it is characterized by a slightly shorter period (about one week). for that reasonA taste that is somewhere between gyokuro and senchais.
You can enjoy both the gyokuro-like incense and umami and the freshness of sencha. The color of light blue and tea leaves is similar to that of gyokuro, and it is characterized by its deep green color and vividness.
Bancha is the second most produced Japanese tea. It is said that the leaves that are first harvested in a year are the most delicious tea, and this tea is called "shincha".
Bancha is a hard leaf or stem other than "Shincha",It is characterized by using tea leaves that are slightly lower in quality than other Japanese teas, such as the large-grown tea leaves that remain after being sorted.
The younger the leaves, the more caffeine they contain, so bancha made from mature tea leavesCaffeine content is lower than other Japanese teas, Known as a body-friendly tea.
Bancha uses low quality leaves, so the taste is not unpleasant.BanchaIt is mellow, sweet and has little bitterness. Also, many banchas are darker brown than black tea.
Bancha is one of the cheapest Japanese teas, so it is popular in Japan as a drink to drink every day.
In Kyoto, there is "Kyobancha" where you can enjoy a unique smoky scent by roasting tea leaves cut with stems and branches over high heat.
Jade Green Tea
Tamaryokucha has a unique shape.
The basic cultivation and processing methods are the same as for sencha, but one of the processing methods is skipped and the leaves are not straightened. Therefore, it is shaped like a slightly curved wire.
It tastes like sencha, but better than sencha.It has less astringency and is characterized by a mellow taste.
In Japan, it is widely produced in the Ureshino region of Saga prefecture.
The world of Japanese tea where you can enjoy the difference
Japanese tea is divided into several types depending on the manufacturing method. Actually, depending on the farmer who produces it, you can enjoy different tastes even with the same type of tea. In Japan, some people enjoy the flavor and taste more, such as changing the thickness of the cup according to the type of tea.
I hope you can find the best Japanese tea for your mood for the day.