Types of Japanese Green Tea
There are many different types of Japanese green tea, and each one offers unique properties. To have the best Japanese green tea experience possible, you need to understand each tea type’s different qualities and benefits. Once you know the key characteristics of each Japanese green tea, you’ll be able to choose the best type for your taste and needs.
Below, you’ll discover the differences among the various tea types, along with the top reasons to drink Japanese green tea and how to pick the right type of Japanese green tea for you.
How Does Japanese Green Tea Differ From Regular Green Tea?
Before learning about the different types of Japanese green tea, it’s important you know what makes it different from regular green tea. The main difference between Japanese green tea and other green teas is the way it’s processed. Japanese green tea is not only fermented but also not roasted. Instead of roasting, Japanese green tea goes through a steaming process. This unique process makes Japanese green tea the least processed among green teas. Thus, the Japanese method preserves green tea antioxidants the most.
Minimal processing and ample health benefits make Japanese green tea the best brew for anyone who values “food as medicine.” The top health benefits of green tea powder brewed correctly include:
- Antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals and prevent cell damage
- Protection from liver diseases
- Enhanced brain function
- Lower risk of cancer
- Improved heart health
- Increased fat burning for weight loss
When it comes to taste, Japanese green tea tends to have a fresher vegetal and more rich umami flavor than other variations of green tea. Because of Japanese green tea’s complex flavor profile, the tea can taste round and smooth or sharp and robust depending on how you brew it. Whether round or robust, high-quality Japanese green tea offers you an enjoyable experience. And also, even the second and third brew will make you a refreshing, tasty tea if you choose high-quality Japanese green tea. The lower quality green tea doesn’t offer such a wide range of capacity or depth in the flavor profile.
Now that you are familiar with what sets Japanese green tea apart, you’re ready to discuss the different types of Japanese green tea. The following sections dive deeper into the two main groups of Japanese green tea — shade-grown green tea and green tea grown in the sun — and the subcategories of green tea within them.
Shade-Grown Japanese Green Tea
Green tea, scientifically known as Camellia Sinensis, is a natural source of caffeine. Green tea leaves also contain a natural relaxant, L-Theanine (L-the-ah-nyn). With a good balance of L-Theanine and caffeine, green tea offers steady energy instead of the caffeine jitters and energy crash often associated with coffee.
L-Theanine content is highest in shade-grown tea leaves, and is the source of savory, rich flavor, called “umami” (oo-mah-me). The longer a tea leaf is covered, the higher the L-Theanine and caffeine content. The highest grade Matcha and Gyokuro (g-yo-koo-lo) are grown in shade for more than 20 days prior to harvest, making them higher in L-Theanine and caffeine than most other teas.
Even though the shading process is labor-intensive, this process is important to increase L-Theanine because higher L-Theanine means more umami-rich flavor. The longer period with cover slows down the growth of the tea leaf and the production cycle. This is another reason higher grade Matcha and Gyokuro are more expensive. Check out the sections below to learn about the top three shade-grown green teas available to you.
Matcha is traditionally used for the Tea Ceremony in Japan. Always found in powder form. Matcha benefits are a good balance of Caffeine and L-Theanine. High in Caffeine and L-Theanine, Matcha provides energy without caffeine jitters. The Tea Ceremony was originally developed for Zen monks and Samurai warriors, and they loved the “Calm Alertness” that Matcha provided for them.
When covered, the tea leaf increases chlorophyll, which gives the bright green color to the ground tea leaf. The longer shading period makes brighter green and higher Umami and lower Catechins than green tea leaves grown in full sun.
Good Matcha provides creamy texture on the tongue. To enjoy this creaminess, use water at 150 to 175 ºF. A bamboo whisk or a frother can be used to create thick foam.
SEI MEE TEA offers:
- 100% organic mid grade of Ceremonial
- 100% organic supreme grade of Ceremonial (Uji Matcha)
- 100% Matcha blends (lemon, mint, ginger, or rosehip)
- Matcha for energy (organic matcha made with guarana and organic ginseng)
Gyokuro (g-yo-koo-lo) is a shade-grown steeped green tea. Gyokuro means “jade dew” in Japanese. The color of the Gyokuro leaf is a richer and darker green than green tea leaves grown in full sun. Gyokuro benefits are the steady energy from caffeine and L-Theanine, and the superior Umami taste. When properly prepared, Gyokuro provides the most pleasant experience on your palate: round, rich and slightly nutty with a hint of sweetness. To enjoy Gyokuro’s serene elegance, use pure water at 150 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit, or brew your tea with cold water stored in the fridge overnight.
SEI MEE TEA offers 100% pure organic Gyokuro loose leaf tea.
Kabusecha (kah-boo-sé-cha) means “green tea grown under a cover” in Japanese. It is considered a “lower grade Gyokuro” because Kabusecha is grown in the shade for a shorter period of time than Gyokuro.
Karigane (kah-ree-gah-né) is a blend of stems and leaves of Gyokuro. “Karigane” means “the sound of goose” in Japanese. The anecdote behind the beautiful name is when a goose migrates in the late autumn, a goose would carry a stem in its beak so that the goose could use it to rest on it in the middle of the ocean. Because Karigane uses stems, it is available for a reasonable price compared to supreme Gyokuro while it still offers a sweet and rich Umami taste similar to Gyokuro.
SEI MEE TEA offers 100% pure organic Karigane tea.
Japanese Green Tea Grown in Full Sun
Mother nature made green tea with more than 450 identified compounds, including Catechins and EGCG. These antioxidants work as synergy in our bodies. Because many elements affect phytochemicals in tea leaves, not all teas provide the same benefits. For instance, when a green tea leaf is grown in full sun, the ample sun exposure increases the amount of Catechins in the leaf. On the other hand, sun exposure decreases caffeine in the tea leaf.
To stop oxidation after harvest, green tea leaves are “steamed” in Japan. Chinese green tea uses “panning” or “roasting” methods. The steaming method was invented in Uji, Japan, during the 18th century. The steaming method produces green tea with a fresher and richer flavor, greener color, and more natural healthy compounds preserved in the tea leaves. Below, you’ll discover seven of the best green teas grown in the full sun for you to try today.
Sencha (cen-cha) is a Japanese green tea grown in full sun and treated by a steaming method after harvest. Authentic, quality Sencha tea leaves are straight like a needle in shape, and rich in green color. Tea leaves are shaped straight rather than curled up or bent because they are kneaded in a specific way to make tea leaves more flavorful. The most important health benefits from Sencha are the tea’s powerful antioxidants, Catechins and EGCG. Due to minimal processing, the natural healthful substances of Sencha, along with its fresh green color, are well preserved in the tea.
If you’re interested in trying Sencha, SEI MEE TEA offers 100% pure Sencha powder, regular or decaf. Sencha powder has become popular after modern science discovered 2 important facts about green tea: 1) Green tea leaf offers vitamins and minerals along with Catechin antioxidants, but up to 80% of them stay in the tea leaf when you brew the leaf–that means the majority of the nutrition is thrown away when you discard the tea leaf after you brew the tea. 2) Sencha tea leaves contain even more Catechins and EGCG than Matcha green tea powder. The best way to get 100% of the nutrition including rich Catechins and EGCG from the tea leaf is to consume the whole leaf in powder form. Another Sencha powder benefit is easy preparation because the tea’s fine powder form means no brewing technique is required to make a perfect cup. The delicate, soothing flavor is also an important healing aspect of this tea. Edible Green® is our trademark Sencha green tea powder. Avoid any Sencha imposters by choosing our product by name.
2. Fukamushi Sencha
Fukamushi (foo-kah-moo-she) means “deeply steamed.” A longer steaming time creates shorter and finer tea leaves than regular Sencha. In fact, fine particles of tea leaves resulting from the unique and artful Fukamushi method are the signature of this tea. When brewed, Fukamushi Sencha makes a full-bodied broth-like tea. When you drink brewed Fukamushi Sencha, you are also drinking some leaf particles, which is how Fukamushi Sencha earned its reputation as the “healthier tea” in Japan. If you love brewed tea for its clean flavor and brewing ritual but would love to gain more powerful Catechin antioxidants, Fukamushi Sencha is the tea for you. Enjoy the best of both worlds: the fresh and clean taste of brewed tea and the higher level of benefits you will get from Sencha powder.
SEI MEE TEA offers:
- 100% pure organic Fukamushi Sencha loose leaf tea
- 100% Fukamushi Sencha blend (made with lemongrass)
Shincha (shin-cha) means “new tea” in Japanese. Shincha is the first flush Sencha green tea, becoming available between April and mid-June each year, depending on the region. Japanese culture puts premium value on such seasonal items as a demonstration of “sophistication” and “awareness of finesse.”
Shincha is considered a premium tea because of the limited availability as well as the freshness of the tea. Shincha tea leaves are young and have not been exposed much to sunlight, so the character of tea leaves is similar to shade-grown tea.
Bancha (ban-cha) is Japanese green tea harvested in later summer to early autumn. While Bancha is usually made with the steaming method, some products are made with the panning method and some are even fermented. Bancha tea leaves may be flat or bent, not straight like Sencha tea leaves. Because mature tea leaves are used to make Bancha tea, Bancha tea offers a strong bitter flavor with little depth in the flavor profile.
Kukicha (koo-key-cha) is also known as “twig tea” or “stem tea” because kuki means “stem” in Japanese. Kukicha uses mostly stems rather than tea leaves. Because stems are low in bitter substances, such as caffeine and Catechins or EGCG, Kukicha makes a sweeter tea than other types of green tea. Kukicha can be roasted at home to make homemade Hojicha. The roasting aroma is relaxing and almost addictive. Making a cup of tea using freshly roasted Kukicha stems from SEI MEE TEA makes for a wonderfully calm “MEE” time.
SEI MEE TEA offers these forms of Kukicha:
- 100% pure organic Kukicha loose leaf tea
- 100% organic Kukicha blend (made with lavender)
Hojicha (ho-jee-cha) means “roasted tea” in Japanese. Hojicha may include both the stem and the leaf. Roasting decreases the amount of caffeine in the tea leaf and the aroma from fire-roasting Hojicha tea has shown an increase of alpha waves in the brain. Benefits of Hojicha include the tea’s relaxing aroma and low level of caffeine, making Hojicha the perfect evening tea.
SEI MEE TEA’s organic Hojicha offers a delicious roasted flavor with a hint of sweetness. If you’re looking for high-quality Hojicha tea, SEI MEE TEA offers:
- 100% organic Hojicha loose leaf tea
- 100% organic Hojicha blend (made with red rose)
- 100% organic Hojicha powder
Genmaicha (g-en-my-cha) is Sencha green tea blended with toasted brown rice. The nutty, toasted flavor of Genmaicha pairs well with Asian meals. The best benefit of Genmaicha powder is that it provides the same amount of Catechins and EGCG as the Edible Green® Sencha green tea powder. As a bonus, Genmaicha powder is easy to use — simply mix the powder with water, hot or cold.
SEI MEE TEA has found a wonderful organic Genmaicha, which provides a fresh toasted flavor and vibrant green tea flavor. Specifically, these are the Genmaicha products SEI MEE TEA offers:
- 100% organic Genmaicha loose leaf tea
- 100% organic Genmaicha powder
Order Your Japanese Green Tea From SEI MEE TEA
Find the best Organic Japanese Green Tea for you at SEI MEE TEA. While different kinds of green tea offer different amounts of nutrition, flavor, aroma, and caffeine, you can always be confident you’re getting the highest quality green tea from SEI MEE TEA. Explore the profound world of Japanese green tea and find the best organic Japanese Green Tea for your quality “MEE” time by checking out this green tea pairing chart.
Browse the wide variety of Japanese green tea from SEI MEE TEA today to find the perfect tea for you.