Japan is a country that values tea a lot. The country produces hundreds of unique varieties and qualities of tea based on every imaginable factor. In this article we will see more than 50 types of Japanese teas and their benefits.
You will see that there is tea that grew in the shade, tea that was pressed in the steam, dried in the sun, tea with buds, leaves, sticks or stems, tea wrapped in ball shapes, rice tea, kelp, tea that is harvested on a special date and many others.
The flavors of tea change according to the time of harvest, and how it is produced, which is why many types of tea described in this article are just variations.
The culture of tea in Japan
The Japanese tea culture flourished over a period of about 1200 years. The tasting of matcha it was introduced in the late 12th century by the monk Eisai. At that time, tea was a precious drink that was also used for medicinal purposes.
Tea is an exciting aspect of Japanese culture. For example, the Japanese Tea Ceremony turns the preparation and consumption of tea into an art. The tea tree is believed to have been taken from China to Japan around the year 805.
Shizuoka Prefecture has the largest tea production in Japan. Kagoshima Prefecture is the second, Mie Prefecture is the third and Miyazaki Prefecture is the fourth. In the past, tea was once considered a luxury item, used in temples and by important people.
In any corner of Japan you are faced with some type of tea. Whether at vending machines, convenience stores or restaurants, there is tea everywhere. At the end of the article we will talk a little about Modern Tea.
Did you know? The brown color in Japanese is written chairo [茶色]?
Types of Green Tea
The word tea derives mainly from the Indian Tea plant, known as Camellia Sinesis or in Japanese chanoki or the main tea plant. The Japanese word for tea is spelled [茶] and inherits the reading tea, sometimes written the tea [お茶].
Chanoki (tea tree) is an evergreen tree that grows mainly in tropical and subtropical climates. Tea trees are propagated from seeds or buds. It takes about 4 to 12 years for a tea tree to give seeds, and about 3 years for a new tree to be suitable for harvesting.
That is, Indian Tea or Camellia Sinesis it is the main component of traditional green tea or derivatives. Below we will see different types of green tea and how they are made. Realize that tea can change its flavor and color according to its preparation.
Ryokucha - Green Tea
Ryokucha [緑茶] is a generic term for green tea. Most Japanese teas are variations of the ryokucha. In Japan, green tea is often called simply the tea (tea) or nihoncha (Japanese tea). It is much stronger than the green tea we know in Brazil.
Matcha - Powdered green tea
Matcha [抹茶] - Refers to powdered or ground green tea, it is usually used in tea ceremonies and also to flavor and color sweets and some foods such as wagashis.
Genmaicha - Green tea With roasted rice
O genmaicha [玄米茶] is a green tea combined with roasted rice. Historically, the cheapest tea variety. Rice was essentially to fill tea for those who could not afford pure tea. Today it is appreciated for its unique flavor and roasted aroma. Many times it contains matcha.
Sencha - Common Green Tea
Sencha [煎茶] - Its name means “ordinary tea” and is essential in almost all Japanese households. Sencha tea has a pleasant flavor and aroma, as all Japanese green tea leaves are vaporized to preserve their natural flavor.
Kamairicha - Iron Pot Tea
Kamairicha [釜炒り茶] - While most Japanese teas are made by steam, Kamairicha is made in a hot iron pot of up to 300ºC making it taste less bitter and slightly roasted.
Bancha - Cheap Tea
O stall [番茶] is a green tea made with leaves at the end of the harvest, bigger and harder. It is smooth and a little bitter, a type of cheap tea usually served in Japanese restaurants. Refers to non-standard and low quality tea.
Gyokuro - High Quality Tea
Gyokuro [玉露] - An expensive tea that grew in the shadows for 20 days. Gyokuro has a sweet taste. It has a lot of caffeine and is not bitter. Known for its green color and mild flavor, its form of cultivation transforms into a premium tea.
Other types of green tea
Tamaryokucha [玉緑茶] - A Kyushu tea known for its rolled leaves. Tamaryokucha has a spicy flavor and a citrus aroma.
Hojicha [保持茶] - The sencha roasted at 200 degrees and cooled immediately. Caffeine undergoes sublimation and the taste is less bitter.
Hachijuhachiya Sencha [八十八夜煎茶] - Sencha harvested 88 days after spring begins.
Fukamushicha [深蒸し茶] - Steamed green tea;
Fukamushi Sencha [深蒸し煎茶] - This type of tea undergoes a longer cooking process. The color is dark, its leaves crumble and the taste is much stronger and bitter.
Guricha [ぐり茶] - Japanese green tea similar to gunpowder green tea, because it has a berry-like spice; Also known as or tamaryokucha [玉緑茶];
Mugicha - Barley Tea
O mugu [麦茶] is a drink made by boiling roasted barley seeds with husks in hot water and decocting or leaching them with water. Also known as Mugiyu. It has no caffeine and tastes softer.
O mugu it is one of the most popular teas after green tea. It is usually served chilled, but it can be taken hot. It is served free of charge mainly in restaurants and small establishments in Japan.
In Japan, the sight of drinking iced barley tea in the summer is a tradition. That's because the barley harvest is in early summer, the tea is also tasty. It can also be found sold in bottles at convenience stores and beverage machines.
Oolongcha - Chinese Tea
Oolong tea, despite being Chinese, is quite popular in Japan. In this tea, darker oxidized leaves are used, which are later subjected to heat to interrupt the oxidation process.
Brown in color, this tea can be served hot or cold and its taste is a little bitter. Oolongcha has many different flavors and varieties, and can be sweet and fruity or thick and woody.
Kocha - Black Tea
Ko-Cha [古茶] - This tea has been stored for a long time. The tea is produced in the previous year, it is very similar to the black tea found in the west, with a bitter taste and brown color.
The Japanese word kocha it can also be used to refer to the western style of black tea. Japan has a rich Western-style tea culture and produces a wide variety of products Kocha unique ones that can be found in hanbaiki.
Amacha - Sweet Tea
O amacha [甘茶] is a sweet tea made from freshly steamed, mashed and dried leaves. This traditional tea is usually poured over Buddhist statues in the flower ritual. That's because eight great dragon kings poured sweet dew into the hot water to celebrate Shaka's birth.
Its color is brown and yellowish, tea made from Kanbutsukai also has the effect of repelling insects. Some are mixed with paint, the custom of putting it on your head to repel insects has been practiced throughout the country.
Sweet tea contains firosultin and isofilozlutina as sweetening ingredients and its sweetness is 400 to 800 times that of sucrose and about twice that of saccharin. The sweetness comes out with the drying of the leaves.
As a crude medicine, it has an antiallergic effect and an effect on periodontal disease. Tea is made from the Amachazuru plant, a sweet vine, it cannot be consumed too much because of its sweetness, it can cause vomiting, intoxication and even death.
Sobacha - Soba Tea
Sobacha [そば茶] is a tea made from roasted buckwheat seeds. It has a unique flavor, peculiar to buckwheat. There is also a variation that uses the very pasta as raw material or a special type called datan soba.
In recent years, tea drinks made from datan soba have been launched in PET bottles by leading beverage manufacturers. Wheat is usually grown in the mountains at an altitude of more than 1500 meters.
Tea has a natural biscuit aroma and has many useful vitamins and minerals. Restores lost strength, helps burn fat, removes excess fluids from the body, controls blood sugar and removes toxins from the body.
Tencha - The Old Tea
It is believed to be one of the first types of teas introduced in ancient times in Japan. Tencha [甜茶] is a general term for sweet tea made from leaves that are different from botanical tea and Chinese tea. One of the old medicinal teas.
It can usually refer to the tiancha, sweet tea and blackberry leaf tea. There is also a namesake fill [碾茶] a shaded Japanese green tea that is mainly used to make matcha, but it is also sometimes used for cooking.
This means that the tea leaves are shaded for about three weeks. That is the reason why matcha has such a vivid green color. After harvesting, the leaves are briefly steamed and dried.
Other types of Japanese teas
We cannot write in detail about all the existing teas in Japan. Below we will briefly see some other Japanese teas:
- Nihoncha [日本茶] - Japanese tea;
- Kuuteicha [苦丁茶] - Tea with twisted leaves;
- Konbucha [昆布茶] - Made with dry, chopped and powdered konbu;
- Yuzocha [ユズ茶] - Tea Yuzu (type of lemon);
- Matecha [マテ茶] - Mate tea, popular in South America;
- Kobucha [昆布茶] - Seaweed tea;
- Umekobucha [梅昆布茶] Plum tea;
- Shougacha [しょうが茶] - Ginger Tea;
- Oobukucha [大服茶] - Tea prepared for the New Year with the first water of the year;
Konacha [粉茶] is a type of tea normally served in sushi restaurants. Despite being made from small leaves and having a very affordable price, the tea is very strong and has a strong flavor, one of the reasons that sushi restaurants choose it.
Kukicha [茎茶] is also known as bocce ball [棒茶], it is made from stems, stems and branches. Kukicha has a sweet, nutty taste, and is slightly creamy.
Sakura flowers are one of the great passions in Japan. They bloom in spectacular colors only to fall in a few days. There is also tea made from sakura flowers along with green tea and it has a unique flavor and aroma.
Habucha [ハブ茶] - May refer to teas made from Ebisugusa and Habusou. Also known as Chá de Senna, a popular herbal remedy, often marketed as a laxative, weight loss aid and detox method.
Tochuu or Eucommia ulmoides is a tree native to China. Your tea tochuucha [杜仲茶] is highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine, it enriches the body with natural calcium, potassium, zinc and iron. Considered beneficial for weight loss and in cases of hypertension.
We are not talking specifically about magic mushroom teas that have a ceremonial or recreational purpose. A very popular mushroom tea in Japan is the Shiitake tea [椎茸茶] - Shitake is the Japanese mushroom rich in fiber and protein.
Tea is also present even in onsen, or hot springs. The minerals and benefits of a tea can be passed through the bath, several bathrooms in Japan have some water made hot with some type of leaf.
Takecha [竹茶] or bamboo tea has the highest concentration of silica in the entire plant kingdom, one of the most important minerals in the human body, acting in the construction of bones, hair and nails, it is also rich in proteins, fibers and flavonoids.
The extract of bamboo is a strong antioxidant, antimicrobial, with anti-halitosis effect and calming power. THE leaf in bamboo it serves for skin, nails, teeth and hair, works as a renewer, which acts from the inside out.
Hatomugicha [ハトムギ茶] gets its name because of the seeds that look like pigeons. This tea improves digestive function, metabolism and helps in the creation of new cells. It fights warts, reduces swelling, has a detoxifying effect, improves blood and eliminates skin blemishes.
Insect manure tea
Insect manure tea chufuncha [虫糞茶] is a Chinese tea made by drying the manure of moth larvae that eat leaves like konashi and Indian tea. There are different types, depending on the type of plant and moth used.
Regional Japanese Teas
- Yamecha - Tea from the Yame region of Fukuoka known for its quality;
- Ujicha - Another regional variety from the Uji area of Kyoto. Tea has been produced in Uji for more than 400 years;
Mixed Teas with other Ingredients
There are teas that have a large part of their composition, other ingredients, but that may still contain some Camellia Sinesis. It may not necessarily be green tea, but it does have the Indian tea plant.
Sanpincha - Jasmin Tea
O jasmine tea [ジャスミン茶] is and the Sanpincha [さんぴん茶] are quite popular in Okinawa. It is the tea made from Jasmin flowers mixed with green or oolong tea. There are slight differences in the preparation and composition of Jasmine Tea with Sanpincha.
Bukubukucha [ぶくぶく茶] - In Okinawa, they usually decouple fried rice, mix in sanpincha, beat it and sprinkle with peanut powder.
Hanacha - Flower Tea
It is a category of tea, where they are made with the scents of flowers. Jasmine tea falls into this category. We have chrysanthemum and lotus tea. There are 3 ways to do hanacha, extracting the perfume, with dry petals, or adding them to the tea after it is done.
Some usually mix tea with milk, see below some of the recipes and their respective names in Japanese:
- Mirukuchii [ミルクティー] - Tea with milk, just add milk and sugar to the tea.
- Cha-yen [チャーイェン] Tea with condensed milk, popular in Thailand.
- Masala Chai - In addition to milk, it contains spices such as cardamom and cloves. Popular in India and Southeast Asian countries.
Eating tea leaves
Shokucha [食茶] - Act to eat the leaves of the tea or add it as an ingredient in meals. Tea is also present in the Japanese cuisine in dishes such as Chazuke, Porridge, Chasoba, Tea egg, lapesa, tea cakes and Tsampa.
Other tea blends
Dataacha [バター茶] - A mixture of tea and butter;
Kajitsucha [果実茶] - Fruit tea, usually a mixture of lemon or apple in traditional tea.
Enoucha [鴛鴦茶] - A mixture of tea and coffee.
Reicha [擂茶]: - Traditional tea from a guest house, with peanuts, sesame seeds and brown rice.
Hachihocha [八宝茶] - A traditional tea from the tribe (ethnic group of China), with sugar and nuts.
Sandocha [三道茶] - A traditional Pei tea that contains sugar and lushan.
The tea ceremony
THE tea ceremony Japanese is a traditional activity with influences from the Taoism and Zen Buddhism, in which green tea is ceremonially prepared and served to guests in an environment of simplicity and goodwill, surrounded by peace, harmony, respect and purity.
The matcha tasting was introduced in the late 12th century by the monk Eisai. At that time, tea was a precious drink that was also used for medicinal purposes. The tea ceremony is known by the name of chanoyu [茶の湯].
Performing the tea ceremony correctly is quite difficult. The tea ceremony practitioner needs to have knowledge of traditional arts, architecture, landscape gardening and floral arts. If you want to know more, read our article on Tea Ceremony.
Where to buy Japanese Tea?
In Brazil you can buy these teas over the internet. To help, let's leave some teas that you can find in the great Amazon Brazil store. Unfortunately we don't have many, but you can find it on other sites.
The Modern Tea Culture
Japanese tea is always changing. Today, most Japanese tea is consumed in pet bottles. Just walk into any supermarket or konbini and you will quickly notice that tea products dominate the beverage shelves.
Most are pure tea (without sugar or artificial ingredients). The Japanese retail sector is ultra competitive. Japanese tea products need to change continuously to compete for space on convenience store shelves. New mixes and infusions are usually launched every month. Japan is a big tea lover.
Below we will see a video of Santana doing the famous Matcha Latte!
Photograph: Roberto Maxwel