Tasting Japanese Green Tea

At Steenbergs, we are undergoing some changes to our loose leaf specialist teas.  Last year, we redesigned the labels to be bespoke for each tea type and with better descriptions on making tea, as well as being bright and fun looking.  Next week, we should also see the arrival of our own new bespoke tea tins – they are in a matt black with a roundel on the top with our name “Steenbergs Tea Merchants” printed in it, which is pretty exciting.

Allied to this, we are going over the specialist teas that we sell to give the Steenbergs range of teas more breadth and more interest.  So I am tasting, for my sins, green teas and oolongs over the next few weeks.

Today, it is the turn of Japan and their green teas.  I like the clean pallet of Japanese green teas without any hint of bitterness that quite often mars commercially purchased green teas from the high street – that’s not healthy and good for you, just plain disgusting tea.

I have chosen some lovely Sencha Fukujyu and Bancha teas, plus a Genmaicha, which is a weird, but traditional Japanese green tea, made by mixing Sencha with Rice Kernels (genmai) giving it a nutty flavour like drinking green tea with unflavoured popcorn mixed in – wacky but quite cool.  The popcorn-looking stuff in the Genmaicha are actually rice kernels that pop during the roasting process.  At this stage, I have not gone for a Matcha as I am not sure with the samples that I have tasted so far.

But I really love the Gyokuro green teas.  I have particularly enjoyed two of these  – an organic Gyokuro and a truly exquisite Gyokuro from the Tanabe District near Kyoto.  The Tanabe Gyokuro is grown under special bamboo shades for a tea with a unique flavour and is processed only from a small first flush; this should give a delicate, round flavour with a delicate, pale yellow-green colour.

Gyokuro Tanabe Green Tea

Enjoying Cups Of Japanese Green Tea

These teas have a delicate, sweet flavour with hints of sweet damp hay coming through that’s typical of good green teas.  The tea cups a light yellow green colour.

What are your favourite Japanese green teas?

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9 Responses to “Tasting Japanese Green Tea”

  1. Brian White says:

    Nice to see someone appreciating Japanese green teas like you are. Recently I have been enjoying a simple Bancha. Yes, Gyokuro is the ultimate but you have to be really careful how you prepare it. Matcha is a totally different world also. You’ll need a whisk for that. I think people need an education on how to make the teas and use the right tools for Japanese Green tea to be really appreciated. Drop us a line if you would like to share more info about Green Teas.

  2. Axel says:

    I am looking into the whole idea of matcha teas and will certainly be buying a whisk and the rest of the kit – where can you get a decent priced one – and a Japanese clay bowl if I can find one. I brewed the green teas in a Chinese stainless steel teapot, which worked really well, making sure that the water was always fresh. I find that the Japanese green teas are really clean in taste compared to the more bitter Chinese green teas that I have had in the past. I shall enjoy trying more teas soon – I have some flower teas coming in the next few weeks, so I will definitely keep you posted on those.

  3. Alex says:

    Just got a small pack of Guricha tea which is very nice. I would love to find somewhere that did oraganic loose leaf bancha. Along with that Hojicha and Kukicha seem the pick of low caffeine teas and both are very nice to drink regularly.

  4. Axel says:

    I think I get get you organic loose leaf bancha, as I am looking to stock it in the next 2 to 3 weeks, so keep looking at our web site at http://www.steenbergs.co.uk/subcategory/9/organic-green-and-white-tea

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  6. Christine says:

    I tried quite a lot of different green teas. The very best I ever had is a Gyokuro Tanabe. What I also found out: the temperatur of water is most important. You can destroy the best tea if you take boiling water. Just for the Gyokuro I take water of 130 – 140 F (55 – 60 C) and allow to infuse 40 – 60 seconds. And I reuse the leaves always for a second infusion.
    And the softer the water is the better will be the taste of the tea.
    Enjoy it

  7. Sophie says:

    Yes temperature is so important. In fact we’ve been doing various tests to see how long it takes for boiling water to get to the temperature required for green teas. Alternatively we now stock a tea water thermometer – http://www.steenbergs.co.uk/product/2254/tea-water-thermometer-in-a-wooden-box//113 . Hope you get round to tasting our teas steep – sip – savour

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