There are several varieties of Japanese tea, each with its own unique flavor profile. Discover the different teas from the land of the rising sun.
If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.
In Japan, tea was first drunk in the 7th century. However, from the 9th century AD, tea seems to have been forgotten for some 400 years. From the 12th century, tea is again grown on the mainland of Japan. During the Edo period (1603–1868), tea is considered a luxury item and only the wealthy can afford it. In the late 1800s, tea is more affordable and accessible to the general population.
In Japan, there are two main types of tea: green tea and black tea. Green tea has been consumed as a drink with medicinal properties since ancient times. Black tea was not introduced to Japan until the Edo period (1603-1868). Both teas are widely appreciated in Japan.
Tea shop Het Kleinste Huis has a wide variety of different Japanese teas. Interested? Read more below!
The different types of Japanese Tea
The centuries of tea production and cultivation in Japan has resulted in a wide variety of different types of (green) teas, also called Ryokucha (緑茶). All these teas originate from the leaf of the tea plant, Camilia Sinensis.
The Japanese teas depend on how the tea leaves are grown and processed, for example long or short steamed, roasted or unroasted, what time of year the leaves are picked or what part of the leaf is used.
Japanese tea plantations mainly produce for the internal market. Only 3-4% is exported abroad every year.
The main Japanese teas are discussed below. All are available in tea shop Het Kleinste Huis.
Sencha (煎茶) literally means 'stewed tea' and is Japan's most popular tea. More than 2/3 of the total Japanese tea production is devoted to this type of tea. Sencha has a fresh, grassy and savory (umami) taste. The tea leaves for the Sencha are picked in early spring, the first flush (first flush). Leaves from this crop are generally of the highest quality and most flavorful. More information about Sencha can be found here.
Bancha (番茶) is generally picked later in the year and often considered one of the lowest quality Japanese teas. There are even 22 kinds of quality grades of Bancha. The tea leaves are processed in the same way as Sencha. Bancha is seen by the Japanese as a 'home, garden and kitchen' tea. The tea has a milder taste than, for example, that of Sencha or Gyukoru. More information about Bancha can be found here.
Matcha (抹茶), currently one of the most popular Japanese teas from our tea shop. Matcha, consists of the words 'Ma', which means rubbed or ground, and the word 'Cha', which stands for tea. Matcha means ground tea. This tea is also known from the Japanese tea ceremonies, although in Western cuisine Matcha is mainly used in cocktails, shakes and pastries. You will also see many skin care products that contain Matcha. More information about Matcha can be found here.
Hojicha (ほうじ茶), also a black tea, but is secretly a green tea. Houjicha is mainly made from roasted Bancha. Although there are also variants of Sencha. Roasting causes the green leaf to discolour and the tea to contain less caffeine. It also makes the tea less grassy. It is also popular among Japanese to make Houjicha at home. They often use a coffee roaster for this. The tea is mainly consumed by the Japanese after dinner. More information about Houjicha can be found here.
Tamaryokucha (玉緑茶), a Japanese tea with an appropriate name, tea (茶) of the green (緑) stone (玉), or Jade. This Japanese type of tea is produced on a limited scale, which makes it quite rare in the Netherlands. Because Tamaryokucha is steamed longer than Sencha, the leaves are shinier in color and less grassy and sweeter in taste. The tea contains little tannin, so it does not become bitter, even if you let Tamaryokucha steep for too long. More information about Tamaryokucha can be found here.
Benifuki (紅付記), in Dutch, red nut, is a special black tea from Japan. When you think of Japanese teas, green teas come to mind. More than 99% of Japan's tea production consists of green tea. Teas such as white tea, oolong, black tea or Pu Erh are slowly starting to come from Japanese soil. The Benifuki cultivar is a cross of the Camilia Sinensis and Camilia Assamica tea plant. Benifuki has a nutty and honey-like taste.
Gyokoru (玉露) is one of the most expensive and rarest Sencha varieties available in Japan. Gyokuro means 'Jade dew' and gets its name from the light green color of the infusion. At least 20 days before harvest, the tea plants are covered with reed mats. This makes it difficult for sunlight to reach the tea leaves. In addition to extra leafy greens, the tea plant also produces extra amino acids such as theanine and alkaloid caffeine, which gives the tea a soft and sweet taste.
Genmaicha (玄米茶) is another well-known Japanese roasted brown rice tea. Also known as 'popcorn tea'. (At least in our shop.) The tea was developed as a cheaper alternative to the more expensive Bancha and Sencha. After all, rice was abundant in Japan. The sugar and starch from the rice gives the tea a warm, full, nutty flavor. Genmaicha is also combined with matcha, also called matcha-iri genmaicha (抹茶入り玄米茶). Both the Genmaicha and Genmaicha Matcha are available online and in our store.
How to brew Japanese Tea?
How do you brew Japanese tea? We often hear in our shop that people cannot appreciate Japanese tea because of its bitter taste. Fortunately, that's easy to fix!
In most cases this is caused by the wrong way of brewing tea. Japanese tea cannot tolerate too hot water. When too hot water (read boiling water) is poured over the green leaves, the tannins in the leaf are released, resulting in a bitter tea.
On average, the water should be around 80ºC before being poured over the tea leaves. For some green Japanese teas, the recommended water temperature is even lower.
The average brewing time for Japanese tea is between 1 and 3 minutes.
The packaging of the Japanese tea indicates the desired water temperature and brewing time.
HOW LONG CAN YOU STORE JAPANESE TEA?
Like all teas we sell, it is important to store them well in an air-tight and light-tight container. For most Japanese teas, we recommend that you keep the tea sealed in the refrigerator after opening the package. This way you can enjoy the freshness of your Japanese tea for about a year.
If you don't want to do this, you can also store the tea in a sealed can or container. Preferably in a cool, dry area. You must consume the tea within 3 months.
Order Japanese tea at tea shop Het Kleinste Huis
Tea shop Het Kleinste Huis has an extensive collection of Japanese teas. You can buy the Japanese teas described above via our website. Do you find it difficult to make the right choice? Call us on +31 20 752 75 85 or contact us via our contact form. We are happy to help you!