Japanese tea is a drink come true for every Green Tea lover. I have admired them for over the years and finally tried out a few of them. There are scores of Japanese tea available in the market and so I decided to break down the difference between various types of green tea. I have also listed the benefits that Japanese tea provide, thank me later 😉
Japanese Tea is now a worldwide beverage and you can fetch loose tea leaves at a local tea store or you can have a prepared drink at most restaurants serving Japanese cuisines.Not all will serve the traditional types of Japanese tea but you can get a few of them for sure.
Table of Contents
What is Japanese Tea?
Japanese tea also known as green tea is the most consumed beverage in Japan and acclaimed worldwide for health benefits and good taste.
The custom of drinking green tea is an important part of Japanese culture and people generally drink Japanese tea after every meal.
Japanese Tea was introduced in Japan by monks. These monks practiced Buddhism in China thousands of years ago. Books were written about green tea cultivation, preparation, and its numerous health benefits and this led to the emergence of green tea drinking culture in Japan.
Tea was made widely available to the masses which eventually became an integral part of their daily beverage. Green tea became so popular in Japan that Japanese people started a Japanese cultural activity known as Tea ceremony also called Way of Tea. This is a vital part of Japanese culture which involves preparation and presentation of powdered green tea.
Types of Japanese Tea
Green Tea leaf is part of a shrub called Camellia Sinensis. Green tea is processed quickly to prevent oxidation. The tea leaves are steamed and dried almost immediately after being harvested. This helps green tea to remain fresh and retain its flavor.
There are about 20 different types of Japanese Tea and they differ from each other based on their cultivation methods, conditions in which they are grown as well as steaming and drying process. Listed below are some of the popular types of green tea being consumed in Japan.
Sencha is the most popular and widely drunk green tea in Japan. It is grown on tea plants that are fully exposed to the sun which gives the tea its dark color. It is prepared by infusing the processed whole tea leaves in hot water. The color of the tea ranges from yellow-green to dark green-brown. Sencha tea makes a striking balance between acidity and sweetness and perfect for everyday use to give the daily boost of energy.
Matcha green tea is produced by tea plants that are grown under the shade. Leaves of these plants which are grown under the shade are called Tencha. These plants produce more chlorophyll and give matcha tea bright green color. The leaves are ground to make a fine powder which is then mixed with hot water to make tea. Matcha tea has a mix of sweet and bitter flavor. High-quality matcha tea is also used for Tea Ceremony.
Gyokuro is one of the best quality green tea available. Gyokuro is also prepared from leaves of plants that have grown in shade. This gives gyokuro its dark green color and unmatchable aroma. Gyokuro tea is very thick and has a soupy like consistency, with a very sweet after taste. Gyokuro contains catechin, a bioflavonoid that helps in lowering the risk of blood clots, heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Tencha tea is similar to Gyokuro tea and is grown on tea plants that are kept in shade and not exposed to direct sunlight. The only difference between Tencha and Gyokuro tea is that Tencha is not rolled after harvesting.
Hojicha tea is prepared by roasting the stem and leaves of the tea plant. Roasting is done on charcoal. This gives Hojicha tea its reddish-brown color and flavors similar to roasted coffee beans. Hojicha tea has less caffeine content and can be taken at any time of the day. If you like to have coffee this will surely give you a liking.
Genmaicha tea is prepared by mixing sencha tea with roasted brown rice. The roasted flavor of brown rice helps in reducing the bitterness of Genmaicha tea. The tea has low caffeine content and light flavors similar to that of popcorn. Genmaicha can be enjoyed during a calm evening and goes perfect with some deep converations 🙂
Mugicha is a very different type of Japanese tea. It is not prepared from tea leaves but by stepping roasted barley seeds in water. This tea has no caffeine content and very simple flavors. One can enjoy it as a hot beverage or as a chilled drink.
Sobacha is another caffeine-free Japanese green tea. It is made from roasted buckwheat kernels and hence Sobacha tea is also called buckwheat tea. The tea has a nutty earthy taste and mild aroma. One can drink it hot or cold and is often served instead of water.The tea is known to improve immune system and aid in digestion.
Gobocha tea is prepared from roasting shavings of gobo which is the root of a vegetable used for cooking in Japan. Hence gobocha tea is also known as burdock root tea. It is bitter in taste but has innumerable health benefits as it contains antioxidants and anti-aging properties. A cup of warm Gobocha can thus provides a lot of health benefits and is a good everyday tea.
Kombucha tea comes in two different varieties; one is the original Japanese tea version and the other is the Western version. The Western kombucha is a type of fermented tea that is fermented with the help of bacteria and yeast. The Japanese kombucha tea is made from kombu kelp. The kelp is powdered and mixed with either black or green tea. It has rich and salty flavors. Kombucha tea has many health benefits as it is rich in calcium, iron, iodine, and fibers.
This is a type of Japanese tea that is steamed to a great extend. Normally Japanese tea is steamed for around 30 seconds to one minute but fukamushicha tea is steamed for two to three times longer. Thus fukamushicha is a darker green tea with strong flavors.
It is a coarse tea harvested from firm leaves and stems. Bancha is a lower quality tea but still popular and widely served.
Kukicha is made from the remains of the stem after Gyokuro and Sencha tea has been harvested. It has a sweet taste and commonly consumed with Japanese snacks.
This is an interesting type and is also known as 3 year tea. Kukicha is made from the stem and branches that are left in the tea plant for 3 years and that is why it has no caffeine content however is very rich in minerals and nutrients.
Konacha tea is prepared from tiny tea leaves of Gyokuro and Sencha. This is a relatively cheaper form.It is powdered and used to prepare tea bags. This is thus easy to prepare and can be your travel companion due to its portability.Make sure to try it whenever you visit a sushi restaurant.
Japanese Tea Health Benefits
Studies have proved that Japanese Tea also known as green tea has manifold health benefits. In fact, it is also known as one of the healthiest beverages that people can consume.
It has a calming and meditative effect on the body. It is associated with improving metabolic rate, boosting immunity, lowering high blood pressure, inflammation, heart diseases, and cancer. Some of the significant benefits of green tea are listed below:
- Improve Health: Green Tea contains a large number of polyphenols that help in reducing inflammation. Green Tea contains a catechin called EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) which is one of the strongest compounds in green tea. They are natural antioxidants that prevent cell damage and reduce the formation of free radicals in the body.
- Improve Functioning of the Brain: An important ingredient of green tea is caffeine which acts as a stimulant. Although the caffeine content is less but enough to show effect. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can work in an interactive manner with caffeine to improve brain function. The flavonoids found in green tea can help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease It has been associated with better mood, vigilance, improved memory and reaction time.
- Helps in Weight Loss: Green Tea has been associated with an increase in the burning of fat in the body and boost the metabolism. Thus green tea also shows small weight loss in obese people.
- Lowers Risk of Cancer: Green tea has strong anti-oxidants that help in protection against cancer. Multiple studies show that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of various types of cancer. The polyphenol present in green tea helps in killing cancerous cells and decreases tumor growth. Statistics have shown that there have been reduced cancer rates in countries where green tea consumption is high.
- Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Green Tea has been associated with reducing total and bad cholesterol thus reducing risk factors causing heart diseases. Researchers have shown that people who drink 5-6 cups of green tea every day are less likely to develop heart diseases and strokes.
- Reduce the risk of Diabetes: Green Tea contains flavonoids and anti-inflammatory compounds that help in reducing blood sugar levels. Thus drinking green tea can be useful for people who are at risk or are suffering from type 2 diabetes. How much green tea should you drink per day? On average, you should drink 3-5 cups of green tea to receive most of its health benefits. You can enjoy green tea any time of the day but it is generally preferred in the morning to give you the energy boost and in the afternoon to keep you active.
As a green tea lover, Japanese tea is overwhelming for me. There are just so many types and not knowing the difference between them can dilute the love we can feel for it.
I hope you have some takeaways from this article and now know the difference between various types. I have also listed a generic health benefits section to the post which is most common for all the types. If you have enjoyed this article let me know in comments.Also check out my post on how you can make your green tea taste better.
Stay Safe and Keep Smiling 🙂