Gyokuro is the highest quality green tea among Japanese green tea. There are many Japanese people who have not drunken Gyokuro. There are two reasons for this. One reason is that simply the tea is very expensive. Another reason is that annual Gyokuro production is very low. Uji, Kyoto and around the area is making Gyokuro the most. The second area is Yame, Fukuoka. The third area is Okabe, Shizuoka.
The manufacturing process of Gyokuro is the same as the one of Sencha. The difference is before cultivating, the new leaves are grown under shade for about 3 weeks. This process makes it possible for L-theanine (the source of Umami) in the green tea leaves not to change into Catechin (the source of bitterness and astringency).
Kabusecha is very similar to Gyokuro. For Kabusecha, the new leaves are grown under shade for about a week.
Sencha (Normal Sencha)
Sen in "Sencha" means infused tea or infusing tea leaves. Cha in "Sencha" means tea. Sencha is the most common Japanese green tea. There are two types of Sencha depending on how to make them. One is "Normal Sencha" or just "Sencha". The other one is "Deep Steaming Sencha". The difference between them is the steaming time. The time of steaming green tea leaves for Sencha (Normal Sencha) is about 30 ~ 40 seconds. On the other hand, the time of steaming green tea leaves for Deep Steaming Sencha is 2 ~ 3 times longer than Sencha (Normal Sencha). This longer steaming time makes the green tea leaves softer than Sencha. Therefore when in the process of the rolling and drying, many tiny finished tea leaves can be made. The color of Deep Steaming Sencha is much greener than Sencha because of the broken tissue of the green tea leaves.
Deep Steaming Sencha
It is said that the Deep Steaming Sencha was made first in Makinohara plateau in Shizuoka, Japan. The quality of green tea in this area was not high because of thicker green tea leaves and strong astringency taste. Deep steaming method was invented to increase the quality. It is said that about 70% or more Sencha in Shizuoka is now Deep Steaming Sencha.
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Non-fermented Tea Posted on 21 Jul 21:11 , 0 comments
Non-fermented Tea is made by heating fresh green tea leaves. This process destroys oxidase. Therefore oxidation dose not happen and chlorophyll in the green tea leaves remains as it is which gives the Japanese green tea beautiful green color.
Japanese green tea and Chinese green tea are Non-fermented tea but there is a difference in how to heat the green tea leaves.
Japanese green tea is made by steaming green tea leaves (except Kamairi cha, roasted green tea in Kyushu area). On the other hand Chinese green tea is made by roasting green tea leaves.
Most of the Japanese green tea is made by steaming green tea leaves. "Cha" means tea in Japanese language.
- Sencha : The most common Japanese green tea (the fist or second harvest green tea leaves)
- Bancha : A kind of Sencha but using the third or forth harvested green tea leaves
- Tamaryokucha : Roasted Japanese green tea
- Kukicha : Kuki means stems.
- Gyokuro : The most expensive Japanese green tea
- Matcha : The very fine powder of Tencha
- Tencha : Matcha is made by grinding Tencha.
- Houjicha : Houjicha is made by roasting Sencha
- Genmaicha : Sencha with Genmai
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In the tea production, fermentation is actually oxidation. Oxidase starts working as soon as green tea leaves are cultivated. Tea is divided into 3 types by how long oxidase works.
1. Non-fermented Tea : Japanese Green Tea, Chinese Green Tea.
2. Half-fermented Tea : Oolong Tea
3. Fermented Tea : Black Tea
Japanese green tea and Chinese green tea are in the same group but there is a difference in the process of their tea.
In Japan we steam green tea leaves to stop fermentation. In China they roast green tea leaves in a frying pan
Green Tea retail shops (green tea brands) buy Aracha from green tea markets. Then they make finished tea (Sencha, Bancha, Gyokuro, Matcha, Kukicha, etc.).
1. First drying - Kansou
2. Shaping and Selecting - Seikei, Senbetsu
3. Second drying - Hiire
4. Blending - Gougumi
By blending some Aracha, each green tea retailers (green tea brands) make their unique taste teas.
Tea leaves are picked by hands or machine.
2. Steaming - Jounetsu or Mushi
The fresh green tea leaves are steamed to stop oxidation. 30 ~ 40 seconds steaming for Normal Steaming. 80 ~ 90 seconds steaming for Deep Steaming.
3. Primary Drying and Rolling - Sojuu or Haburui
The steamed green tea leaves are exposed to hot air while a the same time rolled and dried.
4. Rolling - Juunen or Kaiten Momi
The green tea is rolled under pressure without heat.
5. Secondary Drying and Rolling - Chuujuu or Momikiri
While exposed to warm air, the green tea is rolled in order to arrange the shape of the leaves.
6. Final Rolling - Seijuu or Tengurimomi, Kokuri
The shape of the green tea leaves are then further arranged.
The green tea leaves are then thoroughly dried and the production Aracha is made.
The process of Japanese green tea is divided into two parts, the first part and the second part. The final product of the first part is "Aracha" or rough tea in English. The final product of the second part is finished tea or Japanese green tea (Sencha, Gyokuro, Kabusecha, Tamaryokucha, Bancha, Matcha).
Historically the job of Japanese green tea farmers is not only to cultivate green tea trees but also to make Aracha (Rough tea). They sell their Aracha (Rough tea) to the green tea market where green tea retailers buy Aracha to make finished tea.
You might question why green tea farmers don't make finished tea. The main reason for this is that to make good taste Japanese green tea it is necessary to blend some different origin Aracha. Each Aracha has both advantages and disadvantages. By blending some Aracha, good taste Japanese green tea can be made. Another advantage of blending some Aracha by Chashi (certified green tea specialists) is that it can be possible to keep the same taste every year. If only one Aracha is used, the taste of the green tea would be different every year. This is why each brand's tea has its own taste. The most important thing is if a green tea retailer has a good Chashi (certified Japanese green tea blender).
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Who drank Green Tea first on this earth? It is difficult to answer to this question. Only thing we can do is to research old writing. A mythology in China tells us the following story. There was a god of Agriculture long time ago. Everyday he ate many wild plants in searching of eatable plants but sometimes he got stomachache. To get rid of the poison, he chewed green tea leaves the mythology says. We don't know who first drank green tea but we know that green tea was used as a medicine. When green tea was introduced to Japan, it was used as medicine also and it was very rare delicacy meaning ordinary people back then could not enjoy the tea.
Now we know that green tea has many health benefits for us scientifically but people knew that it is very healthy based on their real-life experience long long time ago.
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