Different Teas from Japan… What makes them different?

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There are many different types of teas from Japan, so what makes them different? Here is a short description of some of the main teas produced by Japan!

Bancha is a very common, coarse or rough tea. It is generally composed of lower grade tea leaves, which are divided into two kinds: large leaf, and small leaf. Neither is particularly suited to a sophisticated palate. Served, for the most part, free in Japan (those located within the country of Japan) restaurants.

Sencha is a tea with three quality levels: high, medium and low. It is manufactured from the tender top two leaves and the shoots for the high and medium grades and from the third from the top leaf for the low grade. However, the processing of these leaves is most important in producing a high-grade tea. It must be done using the utmost of care, patience and love. Without these attributes it becomes nothing. It is used, primarily, to add to the enjoyment of fine Japanese foods.

Gyokuro: This is the absolute finest grade of Japan leaf tea. In tea terminology it is considered to be sweet. It is very, very fragrant and this fragrance adds to the overwhelming appreciation of this magnificent Japan Green Tea. It can be consumed with only the very best of Japanese cuisine but more often simply by itself. To add to the glory of this tea, we recommend preparing it with and serving it to a loved one or to an especially endeared friend. Of course, if you wish to impress a client, your employer or another important person then this IS the tea of our preference!  (Unfortunately, we do not have this tea at this time, but hopefully in the future we can add it to our selection!)

Matcha: This is probably the finest green tea in the world. It is, however, NOT a whole leaf tea. It is a powdered tea and must be prepared to exacting standards using exacting methods for it to return to the preparer its profound qualities. It is exceptionally smooth and easy to drink. It brings a smile to the palate that spreads throughout the entire body. A perfect balance between aroma, taste and vision (the three quality characteristics sought after in a tea). It is high in several vitamins including vitamin C. Matcha is used exclusively in the Japanese Tea Ceremony or Chanoyu.


In general, and to put things in perspective, compared to Gyokuro and Sencha, Bancha is a low grade of tea. But remember, even in “low” quality tea there are still 22 grades. There can be an extra-choicest Bancha which can be very, very good. It will not, however, compare to a low grade Sencha. A high grade Sencha will be less in quality than a low grade Gyokuro, and so on.

~The Tea Man


Want to shop for your Japanese green teas? CLICK HERE to shop at Sereni-tea!


The Tea Man’s Tea Talk.  www.teatalk.com (Past Sereni-tea issue August 2006.)



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