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Drinking Green Tea


UpdateFebruary 21, 2018
ReleaseFebruary 21, 2018

Green tea has been attracting worldwide attention in recent years. The health benefits of green tea have become well known, especially against cancer, and Japanese food has become more popular than ever. Have you ever tried green tea?

What is Green Tea?

Green tea was once the exclusive drink of aristocracy and warriors. In the 16th century, Sen no Rikyu perfected the traditional Japanese way of drinking tea and the art of the tea ceremony was born. Later, commoners also began to drink green tea and it has since become the center of the Japanese lifestyle.
Tea is made from the cha or tea plant, a theaceous evergreen tree. Surprisingly, black and oolong teas are also made from the same plant. But, unlike other teas, green tea is immediately heat-treated after being picked and not fermented.

Types of green tea

There are various types of green tea, each with a distinctive taste and characteristics.
Sencha (standard steamed green tea)
Most green tea produced in Japan is sencha. The picked leaves are steamed, rolled and dried. This tea contains a lot of catechin and vitamin C, and so is attractive as a beauty and health aid. It has a mild taste with a fresh aroma. When you want to clear your head or have a hangover, sencha, made with hotter water is good because it contains a lot of caffeine. A cup after meals helps prevent food poisoning and cavities.
Gyokuro (refined green tea)
Gyokuro is a high-quality green tea with a noble aroma. The plants are raised in a covered tea garden to protect the leaves from the light which produces a condensed flavor.
Kamairicha (roasted green tea)
Generally, green tea leaves are steamed, but this tea is roasted in a caldron, rolled and dried. This method was introduced from China around the 15th century and the practice persists today in some areas of Kyushu.
Matcha (powdered green tea)
Matcha is the type of tea used for the tea ceremony. It is frothed before drinking with a bamboo whisk called a cha-sen.
Bancha (coarse green tea)
Bancha has a bitter and astringent flavor, contains a lot of catechin, and is very refreshing.
Hojicha (toasted green tea)
Toasted bancha or sencha is called hojicha. They have less caffeine and are less astringent but have a nice aroma.
Genmaicha (brown rice green tea)
Genmaicha is a mixture of toasted rice with sencha or bancha. It has a delicious tea taste plus the delicate flavor of toasted rice. It goes down easily and so genmaicha is great for those who are not familiar with the taste of green tea.
When you sweat after sports, sencha and hojicha are good because it is easy to drink a lot to replace lost fluids, and also they go well with food. Hojicha is especially refreshing after eating fatty foods. Bancha, hojicha and genmaicha have less caffeine than regular green tea, so they are good for the appetite or before going to bed. They are also recommended for the elderly and children.

How to make

Soft water, which contains less calcium and magnesium, is best for green tea. Water in Japan is mostly soft water. The water temperature is important. For sencha, 70–80 °C once-boiled water is good, and for gyokuro, 50–60 °C once-boiled water is best. When making bancha or hojicha, use very hot water and pour quickly.
The temperature differences are because each tea has different components. Gyokuro contains a lot of amino acid which creates the mild taste, and sencha contains tannin which makes it bitter and astringent. Amino acids are melted at low temperatures, but tannin and caffeine need higher temperature to melt. That is why tea made with lukewarm water is more mild.
However, you need not be overly nervous. If you like hot tea, using very hot water is not wrong. Tea is a luxury you should enjoy as you like.

Let’s have some tea

To learn more, go to a green tea specialty shop. At Kiminoen in Ameyoko, Tokyo, you can sample various teas and buy teapots and cups as well. Matcha ice cream is enjoyable wonderful treat.
http://www.kiminoen.jp/ (Japanese only)
Modern green tea cafes have been popular for some time in Japan. In Tsukiji, Tokyo, try sencha or matcha at the modern but Japanese-feel Jugetsudo. http://jugetsudo.com/0202jugetsu.html (Japanese only)
Cha-Ginza, in Ginza, Tokyo, serves sencha and matcha in a stylish Japanese atmosphere.
http://www.uogashi-meicha.co.jp/shop_01.html (Japanese only)
Green tea cafes run by the tea manufacturers are dotted throughout the tea plantations in Shizuoka, the largest tea producing prefecture in Japan, as well as facilities where you can experience various things related to green tea. Sipping tea while viewing the splendid green tea fields, with Mt. Fuji rising grandly in the background, is surely a luxury.