The tea ceremony requires years of training and patience, yet the whole of this art, as to its detail, signifies no more than the making and serving of a cup of tea. The supremely important matter is that the act be performed in the most perfect, most polite, most graceful, most charming manner possible”
Green teawas introduced to Japan in the 13th century and has become an essential component of traditional Japanese cuisine. Green tea powder, or matcha, is also used as a flavoring for many desserts and sweets, while hot tea is sometimes poured over rice as a snack.
This is a quick introduction to the most common varieties of Japanese green tea with instructions on the correct way to brew them. However there are many more varieties, not to mention all the types of Chinese green tea, so look up whatever is in your cupboard and try brewing it correctly. Traditionally green tea is never served with milk and sugar, but contemporary tea houses now serve treats like matcha milkshakes and green tea espresso’s, so I’m also including a few fun recipes here for you to try.
Green Tea Types
抹茶 Matcha is green tea finely ground into a powder. Matcha is used primarily in the tea ceremony and as a flavoring for sweets and desserts.
煎茶 Sencha is the most popular green tea in a traditional Japanese home. It is grown in the sun.
玉露 Gyokuro, grown in the shade, is the finest, most expensive Japanese green. It is mellow tasting and slightly sweet.
新茶 Shin-cha, or new tea, is made from the young leaves of the first harvest of the year. The drying process for shin-cha is much shorter than that of normal sencha, so shin-cha has a fresh green flavor and aroma. Japanese people look forward to the new crop of sin-cha every year and enjoy it during the early summer months when it is in season.
焙じ茶 Hojicha is green tea that has been roasted over charcoal. When brewed, the tea, like the leaves themselves, is brown. It is milder than sencha with a woodsy flavor and makes a great companion to fruits and other desserts.
玄米茶 Genmaicha is a mixture of green tea leaves and roasted brown rice. The rice adds a nutty, sweet grainy flavor to the tea.
玄米抹茶 Genmaimacha is a mixture of green tea leaves, roasted brown rice and powdered green tea, creating layers of flavour.
Brewing Green Tea
4 teaspoons of loose tea leaves
450ml of of hot but not boiling water (about 80° C or bring the water to the boil and let it sit for 5 minutes before pouring)
Steeping time 1 to 1½ minutes
4 teaspoons of loose tea leaves
450ml of hot but not boiling water (about 60° C or bring the water to the boil and let it sit for 20 minutes before pouring)
Steeping time 2½ minutes
HOJICHA, GENMAICHA, OR GENMAIMACHA
3 teaspoons of loose tea leaves
450ml of boiling water
Steeping time 30 seconds
- Place the green tea leaves in a teapot.
- Pour the hot water (at the temperature appropriate to the type you are serving) and let the leaves steep for the time specified above. Since different varieties of tea require amounts, water temperatures and steeping times that may vary slightly from these directions, please follow the directions on the package if they differ.
- Lay out 4 teacups. Fill each cup one-eighth full, then make the of the four cups again, filling them another eighth of the way. Repeat until you have used the very last drop of the brewed green tea. The point of doing this is to ensure that each cup is brewed at the same strength. The teacups should be filled half or two-thirds of the way to the rims. Do not leave any liquid in the teapot because the tea becomes bitter when it cools.
- You can reuse the same leaves for a second serving. Simply repeat steps 2 and 3 when you are ready to serve the next round.
Green Tea Recipes
Just click on an image to link to the recipe.