The US trend towards increased tea consumption is no doubt largely attributed to the healthy lifestyle movement—and green tea has been the healthy cup of choice for many Americans making this switch. But what is really known about green tea besides it’s richness of health benefits? Where does it come from?
While 80% of green tea is produced in China, Japanese green tea is the real green tea gem. Accounting for 7% of the global green tea supply, of which 95% is consumed domestically, leaves other countries with minimal quantities to enjoy. If you happen to get your hands on a genuine pot of Japanese green tea, then you are aware of the rare sensational experience associated with each cup.
The big four favorites include: Sencha, Matcha, Genmaicha, and Gyokuro. Starting with the most popular classic green tea, Sencha, which accounts for over 70% of the Japanese tea production. While quality and taste profiles are widespread, Sencha is an early spring harvest picked tea that creates a delicate vegetal cup. Sencha is commonly used as base for flavored green tea blends as it’s character can still shine despite additions to the blend, making for a typical everyday tea.
On the other side of the spectrum, Matcha has traditionally been reserved for special occasions. Fine Matcha is stone ground of leaves from century year old tea bushes, making for a fresh and umami tasting cup. Instead of steeping, Matcha is whisked with water to create a frothy cup and the entire leaf is consumed, which is why Matcha is considered to supplement the body with many antioxidants.
The combination of Sencha, Matcha and rice brings us to a third much-loved Japanese tea-Genmaicha or popcorn tea. Originally, roasted rice was added to green tea to ensure long lasting freshness of the leaves, however, this quickly grew into a desired flavored cup. This toasted nutty tea is uniquely sweet and feels like velvet when sipped. It is truly a one-of- a-kind sensation that must be experienced.
And finally, the most prized tea in Japan—Gyokuro. Known as Jade Dew for its unusual production method, Gyokuro leaves are grown under straw-covered bamboo shades for the last few weeks of harvesting. Limiting the sunlight causes more amino acids (theanine) to produce, creating a sweet yet rich flavor.
The art of tea remains in Japan as tea culture is valued in daily life, whether producing or consuming, there is a strong connection to tea. The intricate and precise methods of Japanese tea production add a spectacular range of variety to the world of tea.
For the lucky ones who have delighted their taste buds with these teas, let us know what you thought? If you have not tried one yet, Newby’s Sushi Teas collection are the perfect introduction to Japanese tea culture.