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Japanese Green Tea: 13 Types, Benefits, and When to Drink

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Japanese green tea has a wide variety and each has a unique, different flavor and taste. We’ve covered common types and what time would be best to drink them. We hope this would give you a hint of them and find your favorite one to start with.

What is Japanese Green Tea?

Japanese green tea is a general term for tea produced in Japan that is not fermented. Once it’s fermented, it’d be Oolong tea or black tea depending on its degree of fermentation. There are many types of Japanese green tea and we will introduce you to the main ones with their nutrients.

Japanese Green Tea for Everyday Use

Sencha (煎茶)

Rishi Organic Sencha 2 by dan greuel

This is the most common Japanese green tea of all in Japan. It’s easy to prepare especially if you use a teabag and it goes well with anything. All-round player.

Process: Steam the freshly picked/plucked tea leaves, then dry with rubbing them.
Nutrient: Catechins, caffeine, theanine (amino acids), vitamin C
Taste and Flavor: Refreshing aroma, well balanced with umami (flavor derived from amino acids) and astringency. It contains much caffeine, catechins, and vitamin C.
When to drink?

Best Time to Drink?

You can drink sencha literally any time of the day. Best consumed in the morning to wake up your brain with caffeine. The hot water can bring out the best effect of caffeine and catechins. Some dull moments you may have in the afternoon, or any time in between your work or study, sencha works the best to have you sharply awake.

The catechins in sencha can prevent you from developing any issues in the mouth, such as bad breath or a cavity. Having a cup of sencha after a meal is preferable for that reason, too.

For further information about sencha, you can check our article.
Sencha Green Tea Benefits/Side Effects and Where You Can Buy

Bancha (番茶)

Process: The same process with Sencha only the different tea leaves harvested in the middle of June. It’s the second flush of green tea with firmer stem and leaf. It’s largely circulated in plastic bottles that you can buy at any grocery store or convenience store.

Best Time to Drink?

It can be consumed with any meal. Of course, it goes well with Japanese dishes and any other dishes with oily or spicy stuff as well.

Fukamushicha (深蒸し茶)

Process: Same with Sencha only steam 2-3 time longer
Nutrient: Catechins, caffeine, theanine (amino acids), vitamin C
Color: Fukamushi deep green
Taste and Flavor: It has more sweetness compared to Sencha. This is the one you don’t really have to care about the quality of water when you serve it, yet a little weaker aroma. The Kakegawa Fukumashicha (掛川深蒸し茶) is famous for this category.

Genmaicha (玄米茶)

genmaicha_Photo Courtesy kimuraen.com

Process: Green tea blended with the same amount of roasted brown rice (kernel). The types of green tea can be sencha or bancha.
Nutrient: Brown rice (kernel), catechins, theanine (amino acids), vitamin C
Taste and Flavor: It’s well balanced with the flavor of green tea (sencha or bancha) and unique toasty aroma of the brown rice kernel.
It’s not rich in taste so it can go well with a meal, too. Half the caffeine makes this tea accessible to kids and the elderly as well.

For further information about genmaicha, check our article.
7 Health Benefits of Genmaicha and When to Drink

Japanese Green Tea for Relaxation

Hojicha (焙じ茶)

Process: Roast sencha or bancha with a high heat till they are brown.
Nutrient: Catechins, amino-acids, vitamin C
Color: Brown
Taste and flavor: It is best consumed after a meal since it has a refreshing effect with its unique toasty flavor. It contains less caffeine and compared to other types of green tea, so it’s good for kids and the elderly, too.

Best Time to Drink?

It can be consumed all day since it contains less caffeine compared to other types of green tea. Literally all-day. Yes. You can enjoy it after the shower or even before the bed for some refreshing effect.

Powdered Japanese Green Tea

Konacha (粉茶)

Process: Gathered powder in the process of making Gyokuro or Sencha.
Nutrient: Catechins, caffeine, theanine (amino acids), vitamin C
Taste and flavor: Since it’s powdered, the nutrients easily dissolve and have a vivid green color and strong taste. You can prepare it with hot water in a short amount of time.

Best Time to Drink?

Same as sencha, it’s good for your mouth health with catechins which are believed to prevent any disease in the mouth, such as bad breath or decay. In addition, the powdered green tea can freshen up the mouth and you can enjoy the rich taste of green tea.

Stunningly Refreshing Japanese Green Tea

Kukicha (茎茶)

At the end of the process of sencha or gyokuro, select good stalks to use.
Nutrient: Catechins, caffeine, theanine (amino acids), vitamin C
Taste and flavor: It has a totally different flavor compared to Sencha. The clean aroma and a refreshing flavor are something you can expect. Different from the tea leaf, the flavor of Kukicha (stalk tea) gets weaker each time you serve a cup after you made it for the first cup. There are some famous brands for kukicha: Shiraore and Karigane.

Best Time to Drink?

It’s wonderful to have a cup of kukicha for expecting the refreshing quality. Any time you need a kick of fresh taste and flavor, kukicha is there for you.

Japanese Green Tea for Special Occasion

Matcha (抹茶)

matcha_japanese green tea
matcha – Japanese green tea

Process: Shades new buds to avoid sunlight, dry after steamed without rubbing. Remove the veins and get them powdered with a stone mill.
Nutrient: Theanine (amino acids) (theanine), caffeine, catechins, vitamin C
Color: Rich green
Taste and flavor: This is a must when you do the tea ceremony. It has a mild sweetness and almost none astringency. Since we consume the whole tea, we can assimilate all the goodness in matcha while enjoying the rich aroma and flavor. There are two types of matcha: Koicha that is thick and little gooey due to a lot of amount of matcha and Usucha that is the opposite, watery texture and taste compared to the Koicha due to a fewer amount of matcha.

Best Time to Drink?

It goes really well with sweet stuff since it has a rich aroma and they elevate the taste of each other. Excellent for a break in the afternoon or occasions people get together to have a cheerful moment.

For further information about matcha, please check our article.
Where to Buy Best Matcha? 5 Established Matcha Stores in Japan

Gyokuro (玉露)

Process: Shades new buds to avoid sunlight, the same process with Sencha after plucked.
Nutrient: Amino-acids, caffeine, catechins, vitamin C
Taste and Flavor: It contains many theanine (amino acids) that are the source of umami and fewer catechins, therefore you can enjoy the rich sweetness. Specifically, Gyokuro grown in Yame, Fukuoka is famous for its high-quality products.

Best Time to Drink?

Any time you want to feel that you are drinking high-quality green tea. It goes well with any dessert, you can enjoy a wonderful sweetness while having a refreshing feeling.

Kabusecha (かぶせ茶)

Process: It’s half sencha and half gyokuro, so to speak. The half amount of days of shading the sunlight on top of tea leaves compared to Gyokuro. So it contains less umami theanine (amino acids) and more catechins compared to Gyokuro.

Best Time to Drink?

It’s best to have when you have a break. The rich flavor of Kabusecha can give you a nice kick. In addition, you can add some sweet stuff to go with would make your break something wonderful.

Mecha (芽茶)

mecha - japanese green tea
Mecha tea leaves
mecha - japanese green tea

Process: It uses only the top of tea leaves that are curled in the process of green tea or Gyokuro. It contains a lot of umami (theanine), rich aroma, and strong The deep green color that mecha is known for is relaxing for your eyes.

Best Time to Drink?

For your relaxation time. Its rich flavor can go well with sweet of your choice and the combination gives you energy to for the rest of the day.

Special Types of Japanese Green Tea

Oobukucha (大福茶)

Process: Blended sencha with Umeboshi (plum pickle), kombu (kelp), or brown rice kernel.
Nutrient: Catechins, caffeine, theanine (amino acids), vitamin C
Taste and flavor: It’s been consumed in the Japanese New Year in the Kansai region since the Heian period (794-1185). It’s considered that a holy priest Kuya originated it with giving tea to the people at the time of an epidemic of plague in 951 (Tenryaku 5). It’s called Kofukucha as well since Emperor Murakami also consumed and considered to be auspicious tea.

Best Time to Drink?

For a celebration time! At a party or any gathering, everyone can enjoy this auspicious tea. Or any time you want to perk yourself up by having this joyful tea.

Benifuki (紅富貴)

Well, it’s not actually in the category of Japanese green tea, but it is one of the types of Japanese black teas. It has some unique benefits so let us introduce it to you here.
Process: It’s a mix of Benihomare (a type of Japanese black teas) and Darjiling.
Taste and flavor: It’s one of the most popular teas at the moment. It contains “methylation catechin” that is said to be effective in one from having an allergic reaction and preventing from accumulating fat.

Have you found any type of Japanese green tea that you may wanna give it a try? If you already have your favorites, please let us know in the comment! For those who happen to be in Tokyo, this article would help you to spot excellent Japanese tea stores.
13 Authentic Japanese Tea Stores in Tokyo

Hiroko Matsuyama

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