Japanese Green Tea

Brief Overview of Japanese Green Tea

Green Tea, The Symbolic Tea of Japan
Japanese green tea (緑茶) is ubiquitous in Japan and therefore is more commonly known simply as "tea" (お茶). It is even referred to as "Japanese tea" (日本茶), though it was first used in China during the Song Dynasty, and brought to Japan by Myōan Eisai, a Japanese Buddhist priest who also introduced the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism. It is said that the Japanese green tea is the key factor to contribute the longest life expectancy of Japanese people in the world.

Major processes of making green tea are slightly different between Japan and China, leading to different flavors. While the major process to stop fermentation is steaming in Japan, Kamairi (roast and roll method) is the major process in China. Some kinds of green tea in Japan are made through the Kamairi process, such as Ureshinocha in Saga Prefecture and Aoyagicha near the border between Miyazaki and Kumamoto Prefectures.

Like green tea, the following kinds of tea are called unfermented tea: freshly-picked tea leaves heat treated in order to minimize oxidizing fermentation, which is caused by enzymes contained in fresh tea leaves. The heat treatment mentioned above is called Sassei (shāqīng), and the heat treatment conducted by steaming is called Josei (zhēngqīng). In Japan, Sassei is mainly done by steaming process, while Sassei is quite unusual worldwide. It can be said that Sassei is currently peculiar to Japan. There are other methods as; roasting (Kamairi), boiling (for Bancha [coarse tea], etc. ), baking, sun drying (exposure to sunlight).

Sometimes, so-called Aracha (unsorted green tea) is sold as "Aoyagi", it is necessary to make a distinction between such unfinished tea and refined Aoyagicha, which should be prepared by steaming, crumpling or drying, unpicked, half-finished products, or tea leaves (raw tea leaves) including stems, buds, and hard leaves,

There is a group of tea drinks designated post-fermentation tea (Kurocha), using the activities of microorganisms after treating tea leaves the same way as green tea. Awa-bancha and Goishicha are examples of those teas. They are classified into Tsukemono-cha among special teas. Jasmine tea, which is green tea flavored with dried jasmine petals, is classified as flower tea, flavored tea.

In Japan, it was common to drink hot tea with sushi or with sweets or after meals. Recently plastic bottles of green tea have become popular and more people have become health conscious, and as a result, more people drink iced tea outdoors or during exercise just like drinking water or soft drinks. Beverage makers sell their products, using "calorie-free" or "catechin effects" as their catch phrases; there are also green tea booms in Europe, America and Asian countries.

Process of Japanese Green Tea
Japanese green tea is produced by the following processes.

Production (cultivation, harvest)=>steaming=>primary process of drying and rolling=>crumpling up leaves=>secondary process of drying and rolling=>final process of drying and rolling=>drying process=>sieving and cutting=>separating process of stalks and branches(=>extraction)

In short, the process for producing Japanese green tea is steaming, crumpling up harvested leaves, and then drying and fixing their shapes.

The Classification of Japanese Green Tea by Season
In Japan, the classification by the sesonal periods when tea leaves are picked follows;

Ichibancha (first picking) - from March 10 to May 31, Nibancha (second picking) - from June 1 to July 31, Sanbancha (third picking) - from August 1 to September 10, Yobancha (fourth picking) - from September 11 to October 20, Shuto bancha (Autumn - Winter bancha) - from October 21 to December 31, Toshun bancha (Winter - Spring bancha) - from January 1 to March 9.

Japanese Green Tea in Overseas
In both the People's Republic of China and Taiwan, plastic bottles of green tea drink are sold, but main products are drinks with honey or sugar added. Moreover, some contains lemon juice. For this reason, Namacha produced for the Kingdom of Thailand contains sugar. In Thailand, in addition to Namacha, plastic bottles of green tea is produced and sold largely by a local enterprise, "Oishi Group Public Company Limited", and all contain sugar. In Japan, Coca-Cola Japan Co. , Ltd. , Lipton, and others sell green tea drinks with honey or sugar added.

In Australia, green tea has been highlighted as well because of a fitness boom. Green tea drinks sold there contain sugar like green tea drinks in Asian countries, smiler to English black tea drinks in Japan.

In the U. S. , green tea alone may be thought of as too weak, and some flavors are sometimes added to enjoy green tea.

Must See Videos
Video Contents
1. Documentary of Japanese Green Tea (27:45)

Types of Japanese Green Tea

Types of tea are commonly graded depending on the quality and the parts of the plant used as well as how they are processed. There are large variations in both price and quality within these broad categories, and there are many specialty greenteas other than these. The best Japanese greentea is said to be that from the Yame (八女) region of Fukuoka Prefecture and the Uji (宇治) region of Kyoto. The so-called Uji area has been producing Ujicha (Uji tea) for four hundred years and predates the prefectural system. Shizuoka Prefecture produces 40 percent of raw tea leaf.

Sencha (煎茶)
The first and second flushes of greentea made from leaves that are exposed directly to sunlight. This is the most common greentea in Japan. The name describes the method for preparing the beverage.
Fukamushicha (深蒸し茶)
Sen-cha, which, in the processing of the leaves, has been steamed two times longer than usual Sencha, giving it a deeper color and producing a fuller flavor in the beverage.
Gyokuro (玉露)
Gyokuro is a fine and expensive type that differs from Sencha in that it is grown under the shade rather than the full sun for approximately 20 days. The name "Gyokuro" translates as "jade dew" and refers to the pale green color of the infusion. The shading causes the amino acids and caffeine in the tea leaves to increase, while Catechins (the source of bitterness in tea) decreases, giving rise to a sweet taste. The tea also has a distinct aroma.
Kabusecha (かぶせ茶)
Kabusecha is made from the leaves grown in the shade prior to harvest, although not for as long as Gyokuro. It has a more delicate flavor than Sencha. It is sometimes marketed as Gyokuro.
Tamaryokucha (玉緑茶)
Tamaryoku-cha has a tangy, berry-like taste, with a long almondy aftertaste and a deep aroma with tones of citrus, grass, and berries. It is also called Guricha.
Bancha (番茶)
Lower grade of Sencha harvested as a third- or fourth-flush tea between summer and autumn. Aki-Bancha (autumn Bancha) is not made from entire leaves, but from the trimmed unnecessary twigs of the tea plant.
Kamairicha (釜炒り茶)
Kamairi-cha is a pan-fired greentea that does not undergo the usual steam treatments of Japanese tea and does not have the characteristic bitter taste of most Japanese tea.
Kukicha (茎茶)
A tea made from stems, stalks, and twigs. Kukicha has a mildly nutty, and slightly creamy sweet flavor.
Mecha (芽茶)
Mecha is greentea derived from a collection of leaf buds and tips of the early crops. Mecha is harvested in spring and made as rolled leaf teas that are graded somewhere between Gyokuro and Sencha in quality
Konacha (粉茶)
Konacha is the dust and smallest parts after processing Gyokuro or Sencha. It is cheaper than Sencha and usually served at Sushi restaurants. It is also marketed as Gyokuroko (玉露粉?) or Gyokurokocha.
Matcha (抹茶)
A fine ground tea made from Tencha. It has a very similar cultivation process as Gyokuro. It is expensive and is used primarily in the Japanese tea ceremony. Matcha is also a popular flavor of ice cream and other sweets in Japan.
Tencha (碾茶)
Half-finished products used for Matcha production. The name indicates its intended eventual milling into matcha. Because, like Gyokuro, it is cultivated in shade, it has a sweet aroma. In its processing, it is not rolled during drying, and tencha, therefore, remains spread out like the original fresh leaf.
Genmaicha (玄米茶)
Genmai-cha is a blend of ban-cha (sometimes Sen-cha) and roasted genmai (brown rice). It is often mixed with a small amount of Matcha to make the color better.
Hojicha (ほうじ茶)
Japanese greentea that is distinguished from others because it is roasted in a porcelain pot over charcoal; most Japanese teas are usually steamed. The tea is fired at a high temperature, altering the leaf color tints from green to reddish-brown.
Shincha (新茶)
Shin-cha, "new tea", represents the first month's harvest of tea leaf. The name is used for either Sen-cha or Gyokuro.


Overview of Maccha (Powdered Green Tea)
Powdered green tea is widely used, not only for tea ceremony, but also as ingredients for Japanese-style confectionery, ice shaving, ice cream, chocolate and other cooking.

Powdered green tea is just tea powder made from leaves of tea plants (tea leaves), but its manufacturing process is different from that of green tea for brewing, since powdered green tea is firstly dried after being steamed, then pounded down to eliminate such impurities as the veins of leaves, and further ground by so called "chausu" (a set of millstones for tea leaves. )Before the Edo period, people used to drink powdered green tea which is made from freshly ground tea powder taken directly from chausu (a set of millstones for tea leaves. )Powdered green tea for tea ceremony must be prepared within the previous day by grinding it with chausu. For domestic use, green tea powder packed in airtight plastic bags is available on the market. Once unpacked, powdered green tea must be kept in an airtight container and be put in a cool dark place, in order to avoid change in quality.

Two kinds of powdered green tea are available, namely full-flavored tea with blackish deep green color and weakly-flavored tea with bright blue-green color. If a person wishes to drink full-flavored tea, it is recommended to pour small quantity of hot water and add three heaping spoonfuls using a chashaku (a small spoon for powdered green tea) just to make thin potage. Accordingly, people may say that full-flavored tea is kkneaded. To prepare weakly-flavored powdered green tea for one person, into a generous volume of hot water add as much as one and half spoons of green tea powder (using a chashaku, a small spoon for powdered green tea. )

When using a chasen (a bamboo tea whisk) to stir green tea, each school of tea ceremony follows a different way of whisking. Among the Senke schools, the Omote-Senke school makes a thin cover of bubbles, while the Ura-Senke school produces a generous foam. The Mushanokoji-Senke school insists on producing the least amount of bubbles.

Powdered green tea is classified into a single type, despite its variation in quality between high grade and standard products. Powdered green tea with a sweeter taste and less astringency and bitterness is regarded as the better quality and is accordingly expensive. Generally, high quality tea powder is used for full-flavored tea, but it may, of course, be used to prepare weak-flavored tea as well. In current tea ceremonies, full-flavored green tea is considered as the main, with weak-flavored green tea as substitute or informal.

The brisk bitter taste of powdered green tea contrasts well with the sweetness of sugar and emphasizes its flavor, so powdered green tea is commonly used for flavoring in confectioneries like icecream, which has become one of the standard flavors now in Japan (according to a survey conducted by The Japan Ice Cream Association, it was ranked third after vanilla and chocolate icecream in consumption between 1999 and 2007. )

History of Maccha
The tea drinking custom was originally developed in China from the Tang dynasty through the Song dynasty. According to ancient documents named "Chakyo (Chaijing)" written by a Chinese, U RIKU, in about 8th century, on the effects and usages of tea drinking, people at that time were said to have prepared tea to drink by dancha-ho, a method of preparing tea to drink by reducing a block of solid tea into powder and decocting it in a pot (called fuku. )

It is believed that this new way to prepare powdered green tea to drink (tencha-ho method) came into being during the 10th century. According to ancient records and documents, the history of powdered green tea which was believed to have originated with dancha, is clearly seen in a story about high-grade dancha such as Ryuhodancha that was ground in a chaden to produce powdered green tea, mostly from the Song Era, including the famous "Charoku" and "Taikansaron" written by Jo SAI in 1064 and by So KI in the 12th century. It was the tencha-ho method developed in the Song Era in China to put green tea powder in wan (a bowl), then pour hot water into it from tobin (a kettle) and knead the tea powder and hot water with chasen (a bamboo tea whisk), and such method is being now pursued by Yotsugashirachakai (the Yotsugashira tea-ceremony party) at Kennin-ji Temple in Kyoto and Engaku-ji temple in Kamakura.

The method for tea drinking, most probably the Dancha-ho method, was transferred to Japan in the beginning of the Heian period, while macha-ho method (the method using powdered tea) is considered to have come to Japan in Kamakura period.

As for introduction of macha-ho method to Japan, it is popularly accepted that Eisai Zenji (the great Zen teacher Eisai), the originator of Rinzai-shu denomination (Rinzai-shu sect), brought back with him from China in 1191 several kinds of tea along with the manners on how to drink them, which subsequently spread in Japan (for details, please refer to the section on Sado, History of Sado)

In his "Kissayojoki," Eisai explains about the different kinds of tea, methods for making powdered green tea, tea drinking for promoting health, etc. It was reported that Eisai presented his "Book to Honor the Benefits of Tea Drinking (Chatoku wo Homuru Tokoro no Sho)" to MINAMOTO no Sanetomo in 1214.

Method of Producing Maccha Tea Powder
Material for powdered green tea is called Tencha

Tea plants that produce tencha leaves, for powdered green tea, are grown in the shade "under reed screens for ten days" and "under straw sheets for ten days" in order to keep them out of direct sunlight, this is the same method used to grow tea plants for the highest quality green tea called gyokuro, and which is very different from the method for growing ordinary tea. Such method of growing tea plants produces thinner tea leaves with a richer taste and flavor.

Leaves for tencha are picked once a year. Young leaves are carefully picked by hand

Tea leaves picked by hand are steamed later the same day and then they are dried without doing junen (crumpling up leaves. )In contrast to ordinary tea as well as Gyokuro, for the highest grade tea, the tencha does not undergo a crumpling process.

Tencha leaves are minced to remove leafstalks (petioles), leaf veins and other impurities, so that only pure leaves may be ground into powder. A stone mill (chausu) effected little by temperature change, is used.

Methods of Drinking Maccha Tea
Koicha (Full-flavored Tea)
One of tea tasting methods at tea ceremonies is to drink full-favored tea prepared in one bowl for several guests by passing it from the main guest to the other guests. This method is not recommended for such tea ceremony parties with large numbers of attendants. In the tea ceremony, fresh (and moist) sweets are offered and they are called "omogashi (literally, the main sweets. )

Usucha (Weak-flavored Tea)
In a tea ceremony party with a number of attendants or during entertainment at a Zen temple, each guest is served with one bowl of weak-flavored tea. This bowl of weak-flavored tea is called "ousu. "In a tea ceremony, dry sweets are served before offering weak-flavored tea, but fresh (and moist) sweets may often be served in such tea parties or during entertainment, where the tea served is not full-flavored.


Overview of Sencha
The word "Sencha" is often used either in the narrow sense or in the broad sense. The 'Sencha' in the narrow sense means the tea made from finely processed burgeons of tea plants grown without covers to shutter the sunlight. It differs from Gyokuro (refined green tea) and kabusecha (covered tea), which are both made from the leaves of tea plants grown under covers to shutter the sunlight, as well as from bancha (coarse green tea), which is made from large-size leaves and stems. The 'Sencha' in the broad sense means 'senji-cha' (tea for decoction) from which the tea is extracted by boiling it in hot water (decoction), in contrast to maccha (powdered green tea, also called tencha), which is made by powdering dried tea leaves without kneading.

Sencha in The Broad Sense
As Sencha is a kind of green tea, i. e. , non-fermented tea, its manufacturing method is uncommon in the world in the sense that steaming is used to deactivate the enzyme in the tea leaves. Its production and consumption are basically limited to Japan. However, the term Sencha also includes kamairicha (kiln-dried tea), which is made through a process similar to that of Chinese tea.

Initially, the term 'Sencha' literally meant 'tea for decoction,' with which the tea was prepared through the extraction of ingredients by decocting tea leaves in hot water, so that preparation for drinking tea wasn't as easy as today's method of using a kyusu (a small teapot). In Japan, after the medieval period, there were two methods to drink tea -- 'senji-cha' and 'hiki-cha' -- the latter consisting of stone-ground tea leaves. At first, the plucked tea leaves were either steamed or boiled to stop the function of oxidase, and were then dried on 'hoiro' (a tool to dry tea leaves) and under sunlight. Then, in the early-modern times, a process of 'momi' (kneading) was added. Unlike the old senji-cha, today's Sencha (prepared by placing tea leaves in a kyusu, which is therefore also called 'dashicha') whose manufacturing method has increasingly become prevalent along with the popularity of Sencha, has become dominant among various Japanese teas.

Since the Meiji period, the hand-kneading process has been replaced by newly devised, highly efficient methods of machinery manufacturing, and now Sencha is manufactured through the six processes of steaming, coarse kneading, crumpling, secondary kneading, precise kneading and drying. Quality-wise, thin needle-shaped tea leaves and those that retain the fresh scent of first-picked burgeons are considered good. Flavor-wise, a balance between their own delicious taste and modest astringency is important. Thus the characteristics of quality are emphasized, so that close attention is paid to a brief steaming with subsequent drying at low temperature in the manufacturing process.

Sencha in The Narrow Sense
Early picked burgeons such as the first or second picked ones are used for the tea leaves of Sencha. However, their tea plants are grown in the open air from the start to the end, as opposed to those of Gyokuro, which are shut out from the sunlight by kanreisha (butter muslin or cheesecloth) or other coverings attached to 'tana' (racks or pergola) before harvesting. Generally, Sencha is placed in water of around 70 degrees centigrade for one or two minutes for percolation. The tea with well-balanced sweetness and bitterness or astringency is considered good.


Overview of Gyokuro
In terms of its manufacturing method, Gyokuro is classified as a kind of Sencha (green tea), but its cultivation process is characteristic. More specifically, Gyokuro tea leaves, the raw materials of Gyokuro, are cultivated under a cover for at least two weeks before being harvested. This process increases the quantity of amino acids, which result in the flavor of Sencha, and decreases the quantity of catechins (so-called tannin), which cause astringency. Through this process, the tea leaves obtain a distinctive aroma (a particular odor gained through the covering process). This kind of cultivation method for Gyokuro tea leaves is the same as for tencha (powdered green tea), and reportedly it was already practiced during the Azuchi-Momoyama period.

Origin of The Name of Gyokuro
The name 'Gyokuro' came from the trade name of a product sold by a tea manufacturer, Yamamotoyama. In 1835, the sixth owner of Yamamotoyama, Kahei (Tokuo) YAMAMOTO roasted tea leaves and rounded them into dew-like shapes at the house of the Kinoshita family located in Ogura, Uji City, which later became the original form of 'Gyokuro' (which literally translates as "jade dew"). Today, tea leaves are roasted and processed into bar shapes. This current process was completed by another tea manufacturer, Toshiuemon TSUJI (Tsujitoshi) at the beginning of the Meiji period.

Features and Varieties of Gyokuro
Although Gyokuro may be categorized as a high-class Sencha produced in Japan, it is treated separately from ordinary Sencha in fairs, etc. (refer to the articles on "Sencha in the broad sense" and "Sencha in the narrow sense"). For drinking, it is important to keep the temperature of hot water as low as around 60 degrees (or even 40 degrees, depending on the tea leaves) centigrade in order for the distinct flavor and aroma of Gyokuro to leach out. Gyokuro is characterized by its sweetness, but if you brew it in water at a high temperature, the bitter ingredients of the tea leaves will also leach out.

As for types of tea plants, while most Sencha and other Japanese teas are from the Yabukita variety, Gyokuro is often made from special plant varieties with strong characteristics, such as Asahi, Yamakai, Okumidori and Saemidori.

While the name Gyokuro itself isn't specifically defined pertaining to a particular use, there are many cases in which the tea leaves used in tea beverages called 'Gyokuro-iri' (containing Gyokuro) are similar to those of kabuse-cha (covered tea), which are not cultivated under trellises like real Gyokuro but under a synthetic textile sheet that is put directly on the tea plants for fewer days than in the case of genuine Gyokuro. The chief production area of Gyokuro in Japan is Yame, Fukuoka Prefecture.

There, the twigs of tea plants aren't pruned and the burgeons are left to grow by themselves.

Trellises, which are installed with sufficient height from the top of each tea tree, are covered in rice straw.

Each burgeon and two nearby young leaves are plucked one by one by squeezing and drawing them through a hand.

The tea leaves produced as above in the Yame area are called 'Dento-hon-Gyokuro' (traditional Gyokuro for real) and are treated as distinct from other tea leaves. Gyokuro of high quality, exhibited at Zenkoku Cha Hinpyokai (the National Fair of Tea), are all Dento-hon-Gyokuro.


Overview of Bancha
The manufacturing method is almost the same as that of sencha (green tea of middle grade), but its ingredients include tea leaves harvested after the summer (sanbancha [third picked tea leaves], yobancha [fourth picked tea leaves]), tea leaves gathered when branch is shaped for next cultivation (shutobancha [tea leaves picked in autumn and winter]), large leaves (senryu) removed during the sencha manufacturing process.

Since it is made from mature leaves as opposed to sencha which uses young leaves, it contains more tannins and less caffeine. The taste is light and refreshing, but has bitterness. The harvesting period and manufacturing method differ in some regions. It is commonly drunk as hojicha, dried and roasted for savory flavor.

Moreover, the word 'bancha' often refers to 'hojicha' in Hokkaido and the Tohoku region.

In Ishikawa Prefecture, 'bancha' refers to bocha, which is roasted tea stems.

Hojicha also indicates hojicha produced by a particular manufacturing method, and the leaves used are not necessarily 'bancha' leaves.

Origin and History of Bancha
There are two theories mentioned below regarding the origin of the name 'bancha. '

As used in words like bangasa (coarse oilpaper umbrella) and obanzai (Kyoto-style home cooking), 'ban' has meaning as 'ordinary' or 'everyday,' and bancha was named as such to mean tea which is not high grade but rather drunk routinely.

Since it is harvested in a late season, after ichibanca (first picked tea leaves) and nibancha (second picked tea leaves), it was first called '晩茶' (bancha; lit. 'late tea'), which was later changed to '番茶' (bancha; lit. coarse tea').

It is said that until the mid-Edo period, the majority of the commonly sold tea was bancha according to modern standards. Sencha appeared later when production methods and quality had been refined. Modern bancha is manufactured based on the production method of sencha but it was only relatively recently that sencha production methods became standardized. Because of this, traditional bancha of various regions have differing manufacturing methods, ranging from those like herbal teas which consist only of leaves which have been dried naturally, to fermented teas like those from China.


Overview of Hojicha (Roasted Green Tea)
Hojicha is a type of Japanese green tea, generally referring to tea made with roasted tea leaves. In general, hojicha leaves are obtained by roasting sencha (green tea of middle grade), bancha (coarse tea), or kukicha (twig tea) leaves, and have a unique roasted aroma. Hojicha has almost no bitterness or roughness in its taste and is quite smooth. Hojicha drinking customs vary greatly by region.

Although there is expensive hojicha made with high quality tea leaves, hojicha is regarded as being a lower class tea than gyokuro (refined green tea) or sencha and also is regarded as being in the same class as bancha and genmaicha (tea with roasted rice), and therefore hojicha is not a high-class Japanese tea.

Method of Production
Hojicha is made by roasting green tea leaves at a high heat until the color turns brownish red. According to the green tea labeling standard of the Japan Tea Industry Central Association, hojicha is a type of green tea and is defined as being 'produced by roasting sencha or bancha leaves at high heat. 'It is believed that the method of production in use today was established in Kyoto during the 1920's.

Tea manufacturers use a large specially built roaster. A type of porcelain instrument called a horoku is usually used to roast tea leaves at home. Horoku is also called horaku or hojiki (roaster).

Brewing Method of Hojicha
Hojicha can be brewed using a wide variety of instruments such as a dobin (earthenware teapot), kettle, or kyusu (small teapot), and this can depend on the area or situation. Some leaves are packed in tea bags like British tea so that the tea can be made easily.

It is commonly said that tea should be brewed with boiling water. In areas where hojicha is regularly drunk, it is most often made in a big kettle. During the winter in Hokkaido, people make hojicha in a kettle that sits on the heating stove, mix the tea with shochu (distilled spirit), and drink it (this is called bancha-wari).

Hojicha contains protein and it may go bad or its properties change with time, and as such it is recommended that the tea be consumed on the same day it is made. Hojicha which has begun to spoil can cause stomach aches or diarrhea.

Purpose and Effectiveness of Hojicha
Roasting destroys the tannins (such as catechin) that causes tea to be bitter; therefore, hojicha tastes lighter than other types of tea because of the suppressed bitterness. Hojicha contains little caffeine and so does not stress the stomach, and for this reason, everyone from children to elderly people and even those who are sick can drink it without having to worry about any adverse effects. Some doctors recommend that hojicha is used to hydrate infants. For this reason, hojicha is often drunk at medical or nursing facilities.

Tea is served with Kyoto kaiseki dishes (a simple meal served before a ceremonial tea), and here hojicha is quite often served.


Overview of Genmaicha
Genmaicha is a mixture of almost the same amount of bancha (coarse tea) or occasionally sencha green tea heated at high temperatures, and brown rice steamed and roasted until it gets a light ginger color or bursts like popcorn. Some also contain a dash of salt. It is one of the Japanese green teas or Japanese teas.

In prewar times, a chasho (tea dealer), who found the scraps of mochi left after the kagamibiraki (the custom of cutting and eating a large, round rice cake, which has been offered to the gods at New Year, on January 11) wasteful, roasted and mixed them with tea leaves, and this was said to be the beginning of genmaicha.

As a Japanese tea it is ranked on a par with bancha and hojicha (roasted green tea) and is not considered one of the high class teas. It has a delicate taste, and its fragrant smell and flavor are characteristics. When it is served, the best way to prepare it is to use boiling water and infuse for only a short time. When it is infused for a long time it becomes bitter due to the increased tannin.

The quality of genmaicha depends more on the quality of the brown rice than the tea leaves. Its fragrant smell and flavor are derived more from brown rice being roasted until light ginger than from the burst brown rice. Therefore, when the proportion of burst brown rice is high, it is considered an inferior product.


Overview of Kukicha (Twig Tea)
Kukicha is one of Japanese green teas. It is also called bocha.

This tea is made by mixing burgeons, footstalks, stems of sprouts taken from a tea plant (Camellia sinensis). It can also be produced by collecting stems removed during the process of non-powdered green tea or powdered green tea production. Kukicha can also be produced from Gyokuro (refined green tea). Such a high-grade tea is especially called Karigane or Shiraore twig tea. By roasting Kukicha, Hojicha (roasted green tea) may also be created.

It is savory (aromatic) and creamy, and has a mild taste. It is considered appropriate to brew for 3 minutes in hot water at 70 to 80 degrees C (Celsius) or 155 to 180 degrees F (Fahrenheit). If it takes too much time for brewing or the temperature of the hot water is too high, it will have a bad taste (which is common in any tea to some extent).

It is also used for macrobiotics, and may be used in mixture with juice.

Must Visit Spots

For More Information
See Also