Around the world the most widespread technique used today to prevent the tea leaves from oxidizing is to heat them by placing them on a heated surface, as if they were in a big frying pan. However, what is special about Japanese green tea is that the tea leaves are steamed.
In Japan, 99.9 percent of the tea produced is green tea.
Sencha is the most widespread kind of Japanese green tea, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the tea produced in Japan. It is produced almost everywhere in Japan, and there is a broad range of it, from very cheap to the most expensive of tea leaves. After the steaming process, the tea leaves are rolled and dried to remove humidity and give the leaves their characteristic needle shape. The result of these processes is called Aracha. It is not yet a finished product. Later on, bigger installations convert it to Sencha.
Gyokuro is another famous tea. Less than 1 percent of Japan’s tea production is Gyokuro. It is grown mostly in Kyoto. There are many theories about how it was invented, but it seems it appeared in the first half of the nineteenth century in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture. What makes Gyokuro different is the way it is treated just before being picked. The plantation is covered for 20 days before the tea leaves are picked. This produces tea leaves that have more theanine and amino acids which causes the sweetness of green tea.
Matcha is the powdered Japanese green tea used in the famous Japanese tea ceremony. It has a very old history. It was brought to Japan from China by the Zen monk Eisai. Matcha is obtained by stone-grinding a tea called Tencha to produce a powder. Tencha itself is almost never drunk as such. Like Gyokuro, it is grown in the shade. The tea leaves are steamed and then dried.
Kukicha(Bocha), also called twig tea it is mainly made from the stems and is considered a side product from Sencha. Tt tastes a bit nutty. It contains a lower amount of caffeine and is easier to brew than other green teas. A special kind of this tea is made from the stems of Gyokuro, making it sweeter and more tender. This kind of tea is also called Karigane.
Hôjicha is a Japanese green tea: the leaves and ferns are roasted. It usually is an everyday tea but if the best tea leaves are used it can be of excellent quality as well.
Genmaicha is made from Sencha or other teas with the addition of toasted rice and sometimes even Matcha.
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