Varieties of Japanese tea
Updated: Dec 22, 2020
Japanese tea can be divided into non-shaded tea and shaded tea. In the case of shaded tea (Gyokuro and *Tencha), the tea field is covered before the harvest to prevent the exposure to direct sunlight.
Steaming is the unique processing of Japanese tea. Japanese tea are processed so as not to lose the natural taste and flavour of the fresh leaves. People sometimes express this taste as grassy and you might feel a bit exotic if it is your first time to try the flavour.
Japanese tea differs a lot from both oxidised tea like black tea and pan-fired green tea (mainly Chinese green tea) because of the steaming process and the leaves are softer and taste more natural than the other teas.
Gyokuro and *Tencha are grown in a shade. Around 20days before the harvest, tea fields are covered with either a reed screen with straw spread or a synthetic black cloth to prevent exposure to direct sunlight. The effect of covering tea fields is to avoid the chemical reaction that lowers the amount of amino acid and increases the amount of catechin. Amino acid gives tea more umami and sweetness on the other hand, Catechin gives tea astringency and bitterness. So Gyokuro and Matcha which made from *Tencha taste more umami and sweetness. To make tea with more umami and sweetness is the reason to cover the fields.
Sencha is the tea most enjoyed in Japan. It is steamed and rolled and usually grow without a shade. Sencha is very popular in Japan because it has a perfect balance of sweetness, bitterness, astringency and umami. Among all of Japanese tea, it has the most Vitamin C.
Hojicha is a roasted green tea and usually made of the stems and second harvest tea leaves. It has a roasted aroma. Japanese people enjoy drinking Hojicha during meals and after meals.
The level of caffeine is low, so kids and pregnant ladies also enjoy this tea in Japan.
*Tencha is used for making Matcha.