Introduction to Japanese Green Tea
Majority of the tea produced in Japan is green. In order to produce green tea, oxidation of the tea leaves has to be stopped as soon as possible after they have been picked. This requires heating the tea leaves. The most widespread technique used today around the world, especially in China, is to heat the tea leaves by placing them in direct contact with a heated surface, such as a frying pan. However, Japanese green tea is made by heating the tea leaves using water vapour. After they are picked, the tea leaves are steamed. The technique originated in China, but disappeared several centuries ago. In this curation, we bring 4 kinds of Japanese teas, 2 senchas from different regions, a kabuse-cha and the highly sought-after Gyokuro tea. Hope you enjoy them! Please note that Japanese green tea needs to be brewed with water under 70 degrees Celsius.
1. Ashigara Sencha, Kanagawa, Japan
Ashigara is the mountainous region in west kanagawa prefecture, near to Hakone, south of Tokyo. It is not a large tea producing area due to the limited production capacity. Furthermore, due to the radiation scare in 2011, Japanese central government decided to destroy the many batches of crops, hence it is very rare to find Ashigara Sencha in recent years.
Tasting note: Beautiful clear liquor, with taste of freshness and subtle sweetness. Nose is fruity and floral, characteristic of mountainous sencha grown at high-attitude.
2. Sayama Sencha, Saitama, Japan
This sencha from Sayama, a famous tea-producing area in the northern outskirts of Tokyo. This batch is harvested on the hilly plantations of Saitama in the first days of May giving it a gentle taste of spring.
Tasting notes: It produces a rich green liquor with sweetness and a hint of bitter. It is also dense, but smooth, very mellow, with no astringency, and just the right amount of umami set off by a vegetal touch.
3. Kabuse-Cha, Kagoshima, Japan
This Kabuse-cha is crafted in Kagoshima prefecture, located in the southern part of Kyushu. Like gyokuro, kabuse-cha tea leaves are grown in the shade. However, the shaded period is shorter, lasting only around 10 days and the shading method is simpler. Due to the vicinity of the tea plantation to the active volcano, the tea crops in particularly rich soils, the mild sun of the early spring and the sooting climate of the the southern Kagoshima region enhances the unique fragrance and increases the yield.
Tasting notes: Flavorful, brothy cup, with a sweet character and full, clean aftertaste.
4. Uji Gyokuro (Jade Dew), Kyoto, Japan
Gyokuro is one of the most expensive types of sencha available in Japan and the best comes from Uji, southern part of Kyoto. The peculiarity of gyokuro is that about 20 days before the scheduled day of picking, the tea plants are covered. This limits the conversion in the leaves of amino-acids (responsible for the umami sweetness of the tea) into catechin (tannin responsible for astringency) due to photosynthesis. Thus, a high-theanin and low catechin tea is obtained, that is very mellow, rich in umami flavor, and very little astringency. Note that brewing Gyokuro should use water between 50 and 60 ° C, in order to minimize the infusion of catechin.
Tasting notes: This tea is very strong and mellow, because of the extremely rich amino acids. Its sweet flavor remains long in the mouth. These leaves are a dark deep green and its liquor is very clear, a light yellow-green color. This tea is divine.
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Note: Many members have asked us about purchasing larger quantity of some of the teas we curate, unfortunately these teas are produced in small batches and often the better harvests have been pre-purchased by buyers. However, for smaller quantity – we are able to help contact the farmers directly and link them to you. Please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.