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Guide to Japanese Green Teas

Flavors, Caffeine and How to Prepare

WAWAZA.com

All teas are made from leaves, buds or other parts of the Camellia sinensis plant, commonly called the tea plant.

With the exception of green teas, all other teas are produced by methods involving various degrees of fermentation of parts of the tea plant

Various processing techniques result in products such as black (sometimes called red,) oolong, white — or green teas.

Not Fermented

With the exception of green teas, all other teas are produced by methods involving various degrees of fermentation of parts of the tea plant.

Green teas are produced by steaming and or roasting instead of fermentation, undergoing minimal oxidation compared to other teas. Thus, green teas are able to maintain the antioxidants which are the primary source of health benefits found in tea.

"Green" Teas Come in Different Colors

Not all green teas have a green color, though most do. 

The name “green tea” refers to teas which are produced without fermentation, including teas such as Hojicha roasted “green tea,” which actually has a reddish brown color.


Japanese Green Tea Flavors

Tea Name

Flavor

Notes

Sencha 

Mildly sweet, aromatic Considered to be among the most aromatic and delicious of all green teas. Well balanced combination of aroma, umami and bitterness. Goes well with light and medium meals, sweets and snacks.

 Kamairicha 

Medium light, moderately sharp, slightly roasted Pan-roasted green tea. Complex, rich flavor, setting it apart from most other Japanese teas. Only about 2% of Japanese tea production, due to unusually high care required in the production process.

Bancha

Smooth, summer vegetal Low caffeine, economical common green tea. Refreshes the palate after meals. The common preference among Japanese as an everyday green tea.

Matcha

Medium light, aromatic, complex overtones Fine powder green tea commonly used in Japanese tea ceremony. Health benefits by far exceed those of any other type of green tea since what is ingested is the whole tea leaf, not just the brewed water. Also used in hundreds of recipes for muffins, cookies, breads, cakes, ice creams and custards.

Konacha

Light, refreshing aftertaste Delicious, economical green tea, typical of the ones served at sushi restaurants. Konacha is very easy and quick to prepare, making it especially useful for gatherings where a large number of guests need to be served quickly.

Hojicha

Highly flavorful, roasty, nutty Highly flavorful roasted green tea, extremely popular in Japan and around the world. Goes well with almost any meal. Very low in caffeine. Popular tea to serve with meals or before going to sleep and preferred for children and the elderly.

 Genmaicha

Fresh, roasted rice & popcorn Richly flavored Green tea made by combining roasted rice with sencha or bancha. Highly recognized around the world for its health benefits. Low caffeine content. Suitable for all ages.

Caffeine Content

Tea Name

Caffeine Content
(Compared to A Cup of Coffee)*

Flavor Notes

Sencha 30% to 40% Mildly sweet, aromatic
Kamairicha  20% to 40% Medium light, moderately sharp, slightly roasted
Bancha 20% to 30% Smooth, summer vegetal
Matcha 40% to 60% Medium light, aromatic, complex overtones
Konacha 40% to 50% Light, refreshing aftertaste
Hojicha 20% to 30% Highly flavorful, roasty, nutty
 Genmaicha 15% to 25% Fresh, roasted rice & popcorn

Caffeine in tea is slower acting than coffee, takes longer to enter the blood stream and wears off slower.

* The average caffeine content of one 8 oz cup (240 ml) of generic brewed coffee is about 150 milligrams. The exact caffeine content of each type of green tea depends on the blend of leaves and stems and varies by brand.

Caffeine in tea is slower acting than coffee, takes longer to enter the blood stream and wears off slower. Caffeine in coffee is associated with a quick lift followed by a letdown. Caffeine in tea does not induce the effects commonly known as “coffee jolt”, resulting in a more revitalised feeling instead of an agitating effect.


Preparation Tips

Tea Name

Brew Time (min)

Brew Temp

Hints

Sencha 2 Simmering Cool the boiling water in separate cups before adding to teapot. Overly hot water will result in bitterness.
 Kamairicha  2 Simmering Cool the boiling water in separate cups before adding to teapot. Overly hot water will result in bitterness.
Bancha 2 Near boiling Brew in teapot by adding near boiling water.
Matcha Whisk to froth Simmering Requires a whisk. Overly hot water will result in bitterness.
Konacha 1 Near boiling Brew in teapot by adding near boiling water.
Hojicha 2 Near boiling Brew in teapot by adding near boiling water.
 Genmaicha 2 Near boiling Brew in teapot by adding near boiling water.

About Water Quality

If your tap water tastes bad, then so probably will your tea, regardless of its quality!

You should use fresh, good quality water without a lot of minerals (but not distilled water) to get the best flavor out of your tea. If using tap water, let it run cold for at least 10 seconds before using it.

Using a Non-reactive Kettle

Japanese green teas (and indeed all teas,) should be prepared in kettles made from a material that is as non-reactive as possible. The material your kettle is made of can chemically react with water, and cause contamination.  

Aluminum kettles should definitely to be avoided. Aluminum is a reactive material which has been proven to cause toxic contamination. Glass, ceramic, stainless steel, enamel, marble or cast iron are excellent non-reactive, non-toxic materials.


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References

1 - Standard Tables of Food Composition in Japan -2010. Research by Japan Ministry of Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (in Japanese)
2- Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more: Research by Mayo Clinic
3- Mood, blood pressure and cognitive performance effects of caffeine administered alone and together: PubMed - US National Health Institute



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