An Introduction to Green Tea
One tea, ten million flavors
Green tea, like its counterpart in the West, comes from the leaves of the plant first cultivated in China, Camellia Sinensis. Depending on how it is grown, when it is picked, how long it is allowed to ferment, and a thousand other variables from farmer's skill to blend master's talents, it results in an almost infinitely varied brew. The simple naming 'green tea' hardly does this simple yet highly sophisticated drink justice. No wonder the ancients called it the drink of 'ten million flavors'. Read on to discover the basics about:
- Bancha and Hoji-cha
- Sencha & Gyokuro
- Genmai cha 'popcorn tea'
- Rare teas such as Kaga Bocha & Mandokoro-cha
- A host of other Japanese green teas
Rich Green Tea taking the World By Storm
From Kyoto to Paris, London to Rome, San Francisco to Sao Paolo, Matcha green tea has emerged from an important, but relatively unknown centre piece in the traditional tea ceremony, to a global taste phenomenon. Yet it is in its Japanese homeland where you'll find it at its finest and most ubiquitous. From tea ceremony to parfait to Hello Kitty Matcha Kit-Kat bars, matcha rules the Green Tea roost. What's more, its health-giving properties are out of this world too.
Check out our in-depth articles, including this by Kyoto-based Tea Master Randy Channell Soei explaining
- What is matcha?
- A little history
- How is it grown?
- Where can I buy the finest green tea
Popcorn Tea meets Warrior Tradition
It's Western name, 'popcorn tea' gives it a light-hearted feel, and that's quite appropriate for this lovely, refreshing light green tea. That said, it does come with considerable history. Tea Master Tyas Sosen visits the traditional tea shop that claims to have invented it, Horaido, in operation since 1803, in downtown Kyoto. Tyas gives us the whole story on genmaicha, including:
- How it's made
- How it came into existence
- The Horaido story
- Where to buy Genmaicha today
- Where to enjoy drinking it in the Warrior Tradition of Tea Ceremony
Tasting the Extraordinary, Every Day
Sencha, is the most popular green tea here in Japan, accounting for 80% of all green tea consumed. That said, just because it's a 'daily drinker' doesn't mean it can't be absolutely superb. Lighter than matcha, gentler than hoji-cha or bancha, itr's still a must have on your tea shelf. It's also extremely affordable. Check our green tea article on Sencha, describing:
- How it differs from other teas
- How it's made
- The lodown on sencha tea ceremonies.
Japanese Tea Gardens & Tea Houses
The Beauty of Tea, Tea in Beautiful Places
One of the most special things about drinking green tea in Japan is that you get to do it in some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. Period. Take Kyoto alone. Most of its 6000+ temples and 17 World Heritage sites have a quiet nook or garden - or 16th century thatched tea house (!) - specifically given over to the quiet, simple, contemplative sipping of a cup of tea. How civilized is that? We introduce some of our favorite tea-centred gardens, tea houses, temples and even a castle where you can have the green tea drinking experience of a lifetime.
- Where is green tea drunk?
- Why a hut, or a tea-house or a garden?
- Our favorite .places to drink tea
The Tea Ceremony
Sharing The Tea Love
The 'Way of Tea' Treats Everyone as Equals
The tea ceremony must be the most Japanese thing of all things Japanese. Part meditation, part social gathering, part 'educated ladies pastime', part ritual, part art happening, part... tea party. The tea ceremony, or sado or chado, has grown out of Japan's rich artistic, cultural, and even military - the samurai loved it - past. Today it is still practiced by hundreds of thousands of tea fans worldwide, in any number of styles from extremely ascetic high ritual to casual tea-ceremony with friends. Yes, you can do it listening to Beyonce or [insert latest pop sensation of your choice. We're not kidding. Read here to get the lowdown (part one in a series) on tea ceremony from our experts in Japan. We talk about:
- Origins of the 'Way of Tea'
- Ancient traditions
- Modern practices.
Health Benefits of Japanese Green Tea
The World's Healthiest Beverage
Cancer fighter, fat buster, brain booster, cholesterol killer...
And that's not the half of it. Ever since serious research into green tea began in the 1980s, scientists and medical experts have continued to discover new and ever-more compelling reasons to incorporate green tea into your daily routine. The health benefits are simply enormous. Read further to see how Japanese green tea:
- Fights cancer
- Reduces risk of stroke
- Reduces risk of cardiac disease
- Fights degenerative brain disease such as Alzheimer's & Parkinsons
- Combats Type 2 Diabetes
- Aids in weight loss
- Improves memory and boosts brain power
- increases athletic performance & energy levels
- and much, much more...