Japanese Green Tea – More Than Just a Drink

Hello, this is Ayamegu(@ayakami_meguru).I will write about Green Tea this time.

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Japanese green tea has been an integral part of culture, wellness, and tradition for centuries. With its array of types and grades, spiritual rituals, and scientifically proven health benefits, Japanese green tea is widely recognized as one of the world’s finest.

1. History and Culture of Green Tea

Green tea came to Japan from China in the 9th century. Buddhist monks ceremonially drank powdered matcha tea during spiritual rituals. By the 12th century, production expanded as tea became popular among samurai warriors and Zen monasteries.

During the Edo period (1603-1868), the tea ceremony emerged as a pivotal cultural tradition. Developed by Sen no Rikyu, it incorporates spiritual and social elements through mindful preparation and drinking of matcha.

Tea fields spread throughout Japan’s regions, each cultivating unique cultivars. For example, Shizuoka excels in bold sencha, while Uji produces the highest grade matcha. Regional specialty teas drive domestic tourism.

Apart from ceremonies, green tea integrates into everyday Japanese life. Office workers pause for tea breaks in a custom called ochakai. Friends bond over tea. Temple visitors drink tea. Homes stock tea for guests.

As Japan’s top agricultural product, green tea exports spread its popularity worldwide. Japan shares not just its prized tea leaves, but the surrounding philosophy of mindfulness, wellness, and social connection.

2. Main Types and Grades of Japanese Green Tea

There are several major types of Japanese green tea:

Sencha – Whole loose leaf tea comprising 80% of tea production. Has vegetal, bitter flavor.

Gyokuro – Shaded before harvest, giving a mellow, sweet flavor. One of the highest grades.

Matcha – Stone-ground into fine powder and whisked into hot water. Deep flavor and green color.

Genmaicha – Blended with roasted rice kernels. Nutty, toasty flavor.

Hōjicha – Roasted at high heat. Reddish color and roasted aroma. Lower in caffeine.

Kukicha – Made of stems, stalks and twigs. Creamy, umami flavor.

Within these types are premium harvests graded by leaf size, consistency, aroma, flavor, and color. Some key grades are:

Kabusecha – Covered for partial shade like gyokuro. Sweet profile.

Kamairicha – A type of sencha from Kagoshima with rich aroma.

Meirikaori – A high grade sencha with distinct fragrance when brewed.

Ichibancha – The year’s first harvest, prized for superior flavor.

Organic cultivation, shading techniques, harvesting times, and processing result in diverse offerings to suit all tastes and lifestyles.

3. Brewing and Benefits of Green Tea

To properly prepare green tea:

  • Use clean, filtered or spring water
  • Heat water to 160-180°F depending on type
  • Add 1 tsp leaf tea per 6 oz. water or 1⁄2 tsp matcha per 4 oz.
  • Steep sencha for 1-2 minutes, gyokuro 3 minutes
  • Avoid oversteeping, which increases bitterness
  • Enjoy the aroma and flavors with mindful sipping

Potential health benefits of green tea:

  • High in antioxidants that may prevent cancers and heart disease
  • Anti-inflammatory properties to improve brain and heart health
  • Stimulates weight loss and fat burning
  • Lowers risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
  • Anti-bacterial properties that protect against infections
  • Reduces stress, enhances mood, and increases focus

Japan’s deep green tea traditions enrich lifestyle, culture, and wellbeing. Savor the taste, artistry and mindfulness surrounding Japanese green tea.