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Types of green tea

Wakamushi (light steamed) and Fukamushi (deep steamed) Sencha

※Left photo is deep steamed and right photo is light steamed.
 The most commonly consumed green tea is Sencha.
 May 2nd, which is the 88th day from the 1st day of spring, called Hachiju Hachiya is when the highest grade of sencha is picked in terms of both flavor and fragrance.  Recently due to global warming and unusual weather, tea harvesting time varies, making it difficult to harvest high quality tea on the 88th day.
 We call spring harvested tea Ichibancha and summer harvested tea Nibancha. Sanbancha is harvested in the mid-summer and Shutobancha is harvested from the fall.  Each tea has its own seasonal flavor and aroma.
 During the process of making sencha, the length of steaming tea leaves determines if the tea becomes Wakamushi Sencha, Futsumushi Sencha, Fukamushi Sencha or Tokumushi Sencha.
Because there is still stiffness left in the leaves that were steamed for a short time, they will retain the leaves' shape even when roughly kneaded to into a finely twisted needle shape.  Their color when brewed becomes a yellowish and thin.  It is suitable to brew them in lukewarm water.  When brewed with boiling hot water, this tea becomes bitter, so you need to know the tricks to treat this kind of tea.  On the other hand, tea leaves that were steamed for a long time are soft and when roughly kneaded they become a bit powder like, but the color of tea when brewed becomes a dark deep green.  Its uniqueness in taste is in its depth of taste rather than sweetness; you don't get tired of drinking cup after cup.  We suggest you drink both kinds of tea depending on your preferences given at a time.


※Because tea leaves are blocked from sunlight for the time being, color of tea leaves is bright green.
  Two weeks before harvest time, tea plants are covered to block out the sunlight by 80%.  This prevents the conversion of amino aids into catechins which turn the tea bitter.  By this procedure, amino acids becomes condensed, therefore creating a mild sweetness in tea.  On the contrary, because of a lack of sunlight, the tea contains less vitamin C and so produces a fresh aftertaste.  With a much lower level of catechins, you may feel that something is missing.  Depending on the person, some say it feels heavy after drinking, but there is no other tea like Gyokuro in terms of mild sweetness.

Kukicha (Stem tea), Konacha (Ground powdered tea)

※Left photo is Kukicha and right photo is Konacha.
Both Ichibancha and Nibancha go through two processes of initial steaming in order to make a high quality sencha.  The initially steamed tea is tea that is freshly picked and steamed and contains a level of 5% water.  It has stems, stalks, stem skins, powder, spilled powder and fine powder which does not become sencha.  The processed tea will have the stems and powder removed and will retain its own unique taste and aroma.  Kukicha and Konacha are made of stems removed in the making of sencha.


※Leaves of autumn harvested Bancha is somewhat large.
  Bancha refers to Shuto bancha which are harvested in fall.  Bancha can also be large hard tea leaves which were harvested after Ichiancha.  Bancha has become famous because of its association with polysaccharides.   Since polysaccharides are weak when exposed to heat, their effectiveness increases by brewing the tea in cold water for 24 hours.


※Roasted Japanese non-glutinous rice and popped flower of glutinous rice are mixed with bancha.
In general, Genmaicha is made with popped regular brown rice, but there are many kinds of genmaicha including ones containing popped brown sticky rice.  They all have the same characteristics of a heavy roasted aroma.  This is a truly healthy green tea that combines minerals from brown rice and polysaccharides from bancha.


※Strongly roasted tea Hojicha is very aromatic and its color is dark brown.
  Hojicha is made by roasting bancha at 160 - 180 C degrees.  While most of the nutrients are roasted out of the tea, hojicha possesses a profound aroma found only in this Japanese green tea.  You can drink hojicha conveniently throughout the year, serving it cold in summer or hot in winter.  It can be given to babies or used as a substitute for water when taking medication, even when you cannot drink green tea.