The best way to start learning about Japanese tea is to know what you are tasting and then to taste a lot of different teas. This set is meant to be your starting point, introducing four of the most basic, most commonly available Japanese teas.
Please note that we have decided not to include matcha in this set because matcha is significantly different from leaf teas that it should have its own, separate introduction.
Included in this set is
- 20g packet of Sencha (traditional Japanese green tea)
- 20g packet of
Fukamushicha (deep-steamed sencha)
- 20g packet of Genmaicha (green tea blended with toasted rice)
- 20g packet of Hojicha (roasted green tea)
About the teas
Sencha - The most common form of Japanese green tea, and the base from which many other types are derived, sencha is made by steaming the leaf directly after harvest, rolling, drying and refining the leaf. It produces a vegetal, characteristically "green" flavor. Depending on harvest season, cultivation methods, steaming methods, etc., flavors can range from bitter and citrusy to savory (umami) and toasty. The sample in this set is made from a leaf that has been harvested earlier in the spring season, and is considered more premium with a good balance of bitter and umami flavors.
Fukamushicha - "deep-steamed tea" - this tea is made by steaming the leaf extra long (about 60-80 seconds vs 30-40 seconds), which transforms the tea leaf into a more granular form. This long steaming tends to add sweetness to the leaf, and this particular example has also been shaded just a few days before harvest to add a greater touch of umami flavor.
Hojicha - Literally "roasted tea", this tea almost always refers to roasted green tea, usually made from lower grade tea leaves. However, any tea that is roasted, can theoretically be called hojicha, and in this case, we are providing you with spring-harvested hojicha, made from premium leaves. This adds a uniquely chocolaty aroma and richer roasted flavor. Hojicha only became common in Japan in the early 20th century, making it a fairly new addition to Japanese tea culture.
Genmaicha - A combination of green tea and toasted rice (some times with popped kernels of rice which we poetically call "flowers"), this tea originated in the early 20th century from a folk custom where people would flavor their old green tea with kagami mochi, a kind of roasted rice cake eaten to celebrate the new year. Prior to refrigeration, green tea would go stale, and this would be one way to revive the flavor. Today, toasted white rice (despite its name "genmai" referring to unpolished "brown rice") is mixed with green tea leaves to create a rich, deliciously nutty tea. This example uses premium spring leaf instead of lower grade tea leaves that is more commonly found in supermarkets.
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