7 Most Appreciated Varieties of Japanese Green Tea - Rivertea Blog
Carmen Rotaru | On 08, May 2013
Imagine yourself in a tea boutique having to choose between many different Japanese green tea varieties. What would you choose? It’s quite difficult to make a choice without knowing what the main differences between these varieties are.
The different types of Japanese green tea are graded depending on the quality and the parts of the plants used when they are processed. The way the tea plant is grown is also highly important, in the full light of the sun or in the shade. The majority of the Japanese green tea varieties are grown in the light, like sencha variety for instance. There are also important variations in both price and quality within the broad categories of green tea.
So, here are the 7 most appreciated varieties of Japanese green tea and the main characteristics you should take into account when purchasing your day-to-day tea.
Sencha is the most common green tea in Japan, being the tea variety usually used for preparing the famous “ochazuke”, the tea soup. It seems that Japanese prefer naturally dried tea leaves, as sencha is made from dried leaves directly exposed to the sun and it represents about 70% of the tea produced in Japan. After brewing, the beverage which results from sencha leaves is of yellowish to golden color, with a refreshing aroma and being somewhat in between astringent and sweet.
The Japanese tea ceremony centers on the preparation, serving, and drinking of matcha. Nowadays, it is also used to flavor and dye foods such as soba noodles, bakery and a variety of Japanese confectionery. Matcha is a fine ground, powdered tea, being highly popular as an ice cream flavor too.
3. Tamaryokucha Tea
This is a fine and expensive Japanese green tea variety. This tea can make any girl jealous with its curly appearance and subtle citrus aroma combined with a berry-like taste. It can be processed in two different ways: pan fried (a method very rarely used in Japan, known as a Chinese process), or steamed. In both processes the leaves are rolled to give them their curly shape; the taste differs, however, depending on the preparation method used.
4. Gyokuro Tea
Gyokuro translates in English as “Jade Dew” reminiscent of the green color of the infusion. Gyokuro is a fine type of Japanese green tea and one of the most expensive types also. It differs from sencha because the tea plant which gives gyokuro tea variety is grown under the shade rather than in the powerful light of sun. The shading growing process causes the amino acids and caffeine in the tea leaves to increase, while catechins composition which is also the source of bitterness in tea decreases, making thus this tea slightly sweet with a distinct, refreshing aroma.
5. Genmaicha Tea
Genmaicha is a Japanese green tea variety combined with roasted brown rice, also known as “popcorn tea” because a few grains of rice pop during the roasting process which makes it resemble popcorn. This type of tea was originally drunk by poor Japanese, as the rice served as a filler and reduced the price of the tea; which is why it is also known as the “people’s tea.” It was also used by those persons fasting for religious purposes or who found themselves to be between meals for long periods of time. Today it is consumed by all segments of society.
6. Bancha Tea
Bancha translates as “coarse tea” and is known to have a lower market grade than sencha and gyokuro. Bancha is is plucked later than sencha is, which makes it a less qualitative tea. It is considered to be the lowest grade of green tea. The flavor of this tea is really fresh and pleasant I would add because it has a stronger organic straw smell.
7. Aracha Tea
Aracha which translates as “crude tea” is a type of Japanese green tea variety which is not processed yet. Usually tea plantations sell their aracha leaves to different tea brands or to a tea broker who will sort them, process and get them packed and ready for consumption. The color of the beverage resulted from these tea leaves is deep green color due to the fact that the leaves are very fresh and undried.
There are still many more other Japanese green tea varieties, but these are the most popular and well known types of Japanese green tea in the Western countries. Which of these varieties is your favorite one?
We’ll soon launch our new incredible tasty tea blends. Join us, there are lots of special gifts waiting for you.