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WHAT IS GREEN TEA

View on tea fields in Kyushu

A path of discovery

The world of japanese green tea

Green tea is the name of a vast category of ways to cultivate and process the same plant that offers all the teas that exist today around the world : Camelia sinensis. Black or green, steamed or roasted, the leaves are the same, although the variety (cultivar) may vary, like with wines and their grapes. In Japan, most of the tea production is green tea, 90% of it being of the sencha type.

First used by monks, and then by the samurai and noble classes, before being adopted by the general population, green tea is now a deep part of Japanese culture and traditions. It is clearly associated with the idea of meditation, peace, quiet, self-reflection and simply the idea of taking a break to prepare and savor the richness of a cup of well-brewed tea.
Large Green Tea fields in Chiran - Kagoshima prefecture
A.Bloise 2016

choices...

The different types of green teas

Sencha, macha, gyokuro... it is often difficult to understand and remember at first the various names of Japanese green tea that are available.
These names refer to the cultivation, picking and steaming process that has been used. This process is more or less complex and delicate, and tastes and fragrances change along with it, as well as the degree of rarity of the tea itself.

For a detailed description of these types you can already jump to our "Teas Description" page.
Detail Tea fields in Chiran - Kagoshima prefecture
A.Bloise 2014

Like a good wine

The tastes of green tea

To the connaissor's palate, a cup of green tea will evoke many different kinds of fragrances and tastes. For new comers, the tastes of bitterness or astringency can be sometimes overpowering.

Traditionnaly, green tea can be described using four tastes, whose levels will vary depending on the type of tea, cultivar, but also water quality and temperature, as the main components (minerals, polyphenols, vitamins, amino acids...) of the tea leaves that are behind those tastes will react and activate themselves differently.

These four tastes are umami, bitterness, richness and astringency. All of our teas among our selection are described using  these four tastes to allow you to compare them more easily.

By the way, there is no official translation of the word "umami", although some call it "savory taste": it leaves a mild and lasting after taste and is recognized as one of the five basic tastes. It is an important part of Japanese food culture.
Fresh Sencha in a Riedel Glass specifically chosen for Green Tea
A.Bloise 2014

Not only Yabukita

An incredible variety

As with wine and its endless range of grape varieties, there are hundreds of different tea cultivars in Japan. Some are found throughout Japan, others can only be grown successfully in limited areas due to climate and geographical conditions.

As with wine, the use of a specific cultivar has an influence on the type of tea that can be made, its flavors and fragrances. It is an important part of understanding the particularities of a terroir.

The most common cultivar is Yabukita; 76% of tea production is made with this cultivar, up to 93% in Shizuoka. Yabukita is typically used to make sencha.

Kyushu offers a wide variety of cultivars and gives less importance to  Yabukita (only 37% in Kagoshima for example). It is therefore a great area  for making other kinds of teas than sencha (gyokuro, kama-ira cha among  others).  Popular cultivars in Kyushu include those with a low resistance to  cold weather, such as Sae-midori with its incredible sweetness, very popular as it can picked up very early  during the year, is not very bitter and is not astringent, or Yutaka-midori,  or Ayatsuyu.

Thanks to this variety and specificity, Kyushu green teas are usually less astringent than teas from other areas in Japan. This makes them more accessible to a Western audience, in particular for people who are new to green tea or who simply prefer sweeter tastes.

Main tea cultivars

For your pleasure

Yabukita
76%
Yutaka Midori
5%
Oku Midori
2%
Sae Midori
2%
Sayama Kaori
1%
Kanaya Midori
1%
Asatsuyu
1%

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