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Japanese Teas - Exquisite and Unique

The history of tea in Japan is thought to go back as far as the eighth century, when Buddhist monks brought back tea seeds from China, and tea was grown and consumed for medicinal uses and as a stimulant to aid meditation. Since around the 12th century, Japan has been known to have a tea drinking culture, that today still practices rituals that were adopted hundreds of years ago. These are demonstrated in the Japanese tea ceremony, known in Japan as ‘Chado’, meaning ’the way of tea’. Over centuries, Japanese grand tea masters have refined the way tea is processed to perfection.

Tea is grown in many areas of Japan, but more so in the southern islands, where the climate is cooler. The proximity of the sea to Japan’s tea estates results in tea leaves that take on aromas from sea breezes, giving them pleasant grassy and fresh seaweed notes.

Although Japan has been known to produce black teas, most of the teas produced are green. There are various types of Japanese green tea, that differ in the way they have been cultivated and processed. Below are some of the more usual varieties:

  • Sencha is the most common type of Japanese tea, of which there are different grades and varieties. It was invented in the 18th century by a tea farmer, Nagatani Soen, who devised a way of drying tea leaves using steam, that results in leaves that are notably fresh and fragrant.
  • Matcha is made with tea leaves that have been grown in the shade, and then ground finely to produce a vibrant green powder. There are different grades of Matcha; the highest ‘ceremonial’ grades are used in Japanese tea ceremonies.
  • Hojicha is made from tea leaves that have been roasted for a short while, which gives the tea a bronze appearance and a nutty, slightly sweet flavour and aroma.
  • Genmaicha is green tea leaves mixed with roasted and popped grains of rice, giving it a toasted caramel flavour. Genmaicha tea is sometimes blended with Matcha.
  • Bancha is a tea that is produced from more mature leaves, that have usually been plucked in the late summer months.
  • Gyokuro is Japan’s most superior grade of tea, and is produced with the utmost care and attention to detail. The result is a smooth and delicately flavoured tea with a rich creaminess.

Tea-Direct has a delightful selection of Japanese teas, all expertly produced with the finest quality Japanese green tea leaves.

Sencha Fukujyu Tea is made with tender leaves that are plucked in spring, and lightly steamed. When infused, the liquor produced is a deep olive green colour, and reveals slightly sweet, refreshing flavours.

Sencha Genmai Cha Tea is a blend of classic Japanese green tea with toasted popped rice. This delicious combination gives the tea a warm, nutty flavour with pleasant savoury notes.

Sencha Ginger Tea makes a wonderfully warm and soothing beverage with a fabulous aroma, being a blend of fine green tea, ginger pieces and black peppercorns.

Sencha Lemon Tea is a most refreshing tea, with its glorious citrusy aroma and flavour. The addition of lemon peel, lemon grass and natural lemon flavouring make it perfect to be served as an iced tea in the warmer months.

Sencha Orange Tea is a fruity and fragrant blend of whole leaf Sencha leaves, Italian red oranges, lemon grass, apple and papaya. It is delicious served hot or chilled.

Bancha Houghi Cha Tea is produced by a gentle roasting of green tea leaves, which gives them a creamy caramel flavour and rich, nutty aroma. A satisfying tea, with less caffeine than most green teas, so good to relax with in the evening.

Kokei Cha Special Tea is processed traditionally by grinding the raw leaves and stems to a powder, that is then mixed with water and passed through a mesh. It produces a fresh tasting, smooth tea that is low in caffeine.

Sencha Japanese Cherry Tea contains pretty rose blossoms, and offers distinct and delicious cherry flavours that give it a slightly sweet fruitiness. A wonderful twist to a traditional Sencha tea.

Sencha Wild Grey Tea is a perfect alternative for lovers of Earl Grey tea, as it is flavoured with oil of bergamot, as well as orange and lemon peel. A refreshing beverage to enjoy throughout the day.

Sencha Cranberry and Rose Tea is a unique mix of green tea leaves, cranberry slices, raspberry pieces and pretty rose buds and petals. An attractive and aromatic brew.