Japan has some amazing teas to offer travelers. After reviewing this post you will have a better understanding of the teas of Japan.
Outside of water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world.
Japan has a wide variety of tea for us to explore. Teas ranging from herbal teas to green teas, and black teas to seasonal teas. The most amazing aspect is how each tea has it’s own unique flavors.
Japan almost exclusively grows green teas but if you look carefully you may find some small batch farms that produce oolong or black tea.
Here are some of the teas you can experience in Japan
Ryokucha – Ryokucha is a category name for green tea
Matcha might be what you think of when you think of Japanese teas. The fine powdery texture of Matcha is a result of grinding the entire leaf into a powder to be consumed. When brewed, Matcha interacts with the hot water creating a frothy cup of comfort. It’s flavor isn’t to everyone’s liking due to its very intense, bitter flavor. Matcha is grown undercover in the fields which produces an intensely green color. Because of Matcha’s versatility, it is often used in various other editable treats including ice cream, breads, sweets and, of course, used in tea ceremonies. However, because of its high price point, Matcha is not considered an everyday drinking tea and therefore not brewed very often in most homes. Matcha does have some pretty amazing health benefits, so I’d encourage people to give matcha another taste.
Gyokuro is similar to Matcha in the fact that its grown under shade. The shaded treatment lasts for about 3 weeks before being harvested. The tea is steeped to bring out the flavors which are known to be elegant and balanced. Again, this tea has a more intense green color and high caffeine content. Gyokuro is also known as a premier tea so is can be quite expensive.
Sencha is the most popular tea in Japan and my personal favorite. It is known for its golden color and its nice mellow flavor. You will see this tea growing on the sunny hillsides of Japan with Shizuoka being the dominate prefecture for its cultivation. The various grades of Sencha is determined by when they are picked with the most prized variety being the first picking in early spring. This is a great anytime beverage that is most commonly served in restaurants and homes across Japan, served either hot or cold.
Genmaicha is another green tea but is unique in that it has roasted rice added to the leaves. The addition of toasted rice gives the tea a more nutty flavor. Also, while genmaicha is a green tea, it has less caffeine than the others listed above.
Mugicha isn’t a traditional tea in the fact that there is actually no tea in it. Barley is the main ingredient in Mugicha and is ideal served iced in the summer seasons. Mugicha is naturally caffeine free and has a nice roasted taste. It is excellent by itself but also very good with a little sugar added.
Oolong is a very popular tea, especially in summer, in Japan. You can find bottles of refreshing oolong in convenience stores and vending machines scattered all throughout Japan. Because oolong is a partially oxidized tea it is not considered to be a black tea. Instead it as more of a red or brown tea with a toasty flavor.
Kocha is the generic classification for black tea. Black tea is known for the full oxidation process it undergoes. The roasting process of kocha, just like oolong, is to be pan-fried as opposed to steamed. This process contributes to its distinct flavors.
So, as you see, the teas of Japan are numerous. Maybe you’ve already noticed all teas in Japan end with the word “cha”, or 茶, in their name.
Why is that?
Cha, or 茶, means tea in Japanese. What is your favorite tea?