When you think of a beverage in Japan, you would instantly say green tea. Am I right? Well, what if I told you there are numerous types of green tea, each having its own textures, tastes, and processing; It’s like they have their own personality. There are many more choices to pick than your ordinary matcha green tea latte at Starbucks, so I suggest that you hold onto your teabag because we had tested out all of this delicious tea and compared which would be the right fit for you!
Why Japanese Green Tea?
Japan is known for the best quality green teas in the world. Popular in Japan since the 16th century, it was once served for only monks, warriors, and royal families. Today, Japanese green tea has become the most popular beverage for everyone in Japan.
So why Japanese green tea since there are many different variations of green teas all over Asia? Well Japan stands out the most because it’s believed that consuming Japanese green tea can contribute to various health benefits, weight loss, and flavor, which we’ll go over in a bit.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
Japanese green tea is one of the healthiest beverages to consume. There are substances in the tea called antioxidants, which help remove any possible harmful oxidants in humans. Consuming green tea can help lower the risk of heart diseases, improve brain functions, and weight-loss, the list goes on.
1. Low Risk of Heart Diseases
There are more risks to consider as you get older including strokes, high cholesterol, or heart diseases. Studies show that ingesting enough green tea will help balance the cholesterol level and LDL “bad” cholesterol that can build up in arteries.
Another point to note is oxidation, which usually occurs when a reactive molecule damages other cellular molecules. The antioxidants from the tea will protect LDL particles from any oxidants entering through the body.
Whether you are getting the daily dose of tea in the morning or help stay intact during the night, having green tea as part of your diet can help yourself be healthy and live the best of your life.
2. Improve Brain Functions
You know that “jittery” feeling when you drink coffee? That's caffeine. Though green tea doesn’t have the same caffeine level as coffee, it still has enough boost to stimulate your brain and give you a much more lenient type of “buzz.”
Caffeine stimulates your brain by blocking adenosine, thus increasing the neurons to fire more frequently. As more neurons fire, the body is well-alerted and the mind is properly stable.
L-theanine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, increases the effect of dopamine, which can boost up a person’s mood. The combination of L-theanine and caffeine can result in creating a dramatic improvement in brain function.
3. Keeps Your Weight in Check
Keep in mind that you don’t lose weight by only drinking tea. Having a daily exercise with a well-balanced meal is the answer. However, it’s crucial to incorporate natural stimulators that can expedite weight loss. Green tea is one of the efficient weight loss stimulators.
Thanks to the bioactive compounds in Japanese green tea, countless antioxidants and nutrition support various health benefits. Vitamins, minerals and the low amount of calories in the tea intensify a high-metabolism. Thus, giving the body an ability to burn fat more efficiently.
So next time when you go to the gym and eat your meals, make sure to include your daily dose of green tea while you’re at it.
Powder vs Leaves
We are looking for different types of Japanese green tea you are into. Hence, there are two forms of green tea, which is powder and leaves. So what’s the difference? Well, believe it or not, there is quite a distinction between powder and leaves during preparation. Regardless, it all depends on how you like your cup of tea.
Color: The coloration appears in a bright green.
Color: The coloration is more dull-look (a mix between green and brown).
Taste: Taste is sweeter.
Taste: On the bitter side.
Texture: The powder is soft and smooth.
Texture: Feels more grainy.
Preparation: Mixed with water and heated for about 175 Fahrenheit (79 celsius).
Preparation: Usually boiled down to 212 Fahrenheit (100 celsius).
Loose-leaf vs Tea Bags
The biggest difference you’ll often see when purchasing a new tea product is whether or not it will come with a tea bag or loose leaves. Let’s go over what to expect and know the distinctions between loose leaves and tea bags. Again, it all depends on your preferences!
One of the biggest features of green tea with loose leaves is quality. Usually, loose leaves have a higher quality of concentration than tea bags. However, higher quality means higher prices. Also, when preparing your tea, it may take longer to brew, but the results will be worth the wait. The flavor is rich, less bitter, and stays fresh longer.
Though the quality is decent than loose leaves, it does not mean it's a deal-breaker. There are other benefits to tea bags. The biggest advantage is how fast you can brew a tea bag, it only takes a couple of minutes to prepare. Plus it’s a lot affordable for the tea lovers out there. However, the flavor can easily get bitter and can get stale faster if not used.
How to Prepare Loose Leaf Green Tea
There are only a couple of things you need: hot water, loose leaves, a tea strainer and a kettle. However, different types of green tea may require different technique. Regardless, we shall stick with the traditional way of brewing your green tea.
Step 1: Boil Water
Pour fresh cold water into the kettle or container. Make sure it’s not distilled water which may affect the flavor of your tea, consider having a regular water bottle at the local grocery store.
Heat the water until it reaches around 175 - 212 Fahrenheit (79 - 100 Celsius). Then measure your leaves around 6 to 12 oz (180 to 350 mL) depending how much serving you want.
Step 2: Put Leaves into the Strainer and Steep
Prepare the leaves into the strainer. Once the water is boiled, steep the tea into the water and let it sit for around 4-5 minutes.
Step 3: Take the Leaves Out
Once it's steeped, take out the strainer with the tea leaves inside and wah lah! Your tea is ready to get sipped on.
Types of Green Tea
One of Japan’s most popular green teas, sencha is usually harvested around mid-February to May. It's known for its bright yellow-greenish coloration with a high-concentration of vitamin C. After harvest, it goes through steaming, scrunching, and arranging which enables the leaves to extract a nice subtle vegetal flavor. It is suitable to drink any time of the day if you want a nice extra boost of energy to stay productive.
Matcha is popular in multiple Asian countries and worldwide and known to be used for traditional Japanese ceremonies. When harvested, it’s generally crushed by stones after steaming and drying, then turns into a bright green powder. The taste is naturally sweet with no trace of bitterness and you can literally consume the whole leaf itself since it's concentrated with the highest antioxidants. Since it’s popular worldwide, people in America and other countries would also use matcha for desserts or shakes.
Gyokuro is more on the expensive side. However, its price is worth the smooth sweet taste and fragrant aroma. It's processed the same way as sencha (as mentioned above) and has high L-theanine inside due to less photosynthesis. But nevermind with all that science behind it, all you have to know is that the sweet taste is flawless and can be your go-to tea when having a relaxing day outside.
The coloration of hojicha stands out since it looks more of an amber color due to a high level of roasting. Additionally, it gives a nice smoky flavor with little source of caffeine. This tea can be introduced to babies and small toddlers since there’s not a lot of caffeine, and can bre served either hot or cold brewed.
Genmaicha is a combination of roasted brown rice and bancha or sencha tea, which creates a sweet but smoky flavor. It contains less caffeine and good for either hot or cold brew as well. When it is brewed, the coloration is yellow-green and the best time to drink genmaicha tea is after a nice hearty breakfast.
Review of the Best Japanese Green Teas
SENCHA LOOSE LEAF
If you’re looking for the best-of-the-best then check out one of Amazon’s choices of Japanese green tea. This green tea is 100% harvested and processed in Kyoto. It usually comes with loose leaves and is quite affordable for the quality. However, the taste is on the bitter side but if you like a more natural earthy taste, then this tea is highly recommended. This sencha tea is cultivated through the best environments such as rich-soil, adequate sunlight, and a lenient climate. This organic green tea contains nutrients like catechins, which has vitamin C and E to prevent diseases. In addition, catechins are known to have reduced fat to avoid obesity.
100% Japanese organic JAS certification.
Better quality at an affordable price
On the bitter side.
SENCHA TEA BAGS
This traditional sencha from Harney & Sons is produced in Futsumushi and normally comes with 50 tea bags instead of loose leaves. This tea can be brewed quite fast (1-3 minutes), however; it may require at least 2 tea bags to get the taste. An alternate route, you can add some milk or sugar to add a little sweetness to it. The tea is a more medium green with an earthy and a slight roast flavor.
Steep for 1-3 minutes.
Can be added with milk or sugar.
- Has not been evaluated by the FDA.
Jade Leaf Matcha is in the top tier list in Amazon’s choice item for any matcha green tea. Sourced directly from certified organic farms (100% USDA organic), which is lab-tested for purity and safety. This company provides the best quality organic Japanese matcha in stores for a fair price. It continues to innovate the latest mouthwatering, healthy blends to enjoy your matcha tea. Once purchased, the product is “best by” 18 months, so you have plenty of time to enjoy your tea. Though matcha does not technically get stale, it’s good to note that sealing the product in a cool, dry area would be ideal.
Sourced directly from organic farms.
Better pricing than other competitors.
Not suited for children.
Only a couple of USD more than the other matcha green tea, but with a good reason. One teaspoon of this matcha powder will give you the same amount of caffeine as a regular cup of coffee. So with that extra boost of energy you need, this tea will fulfill that. Also, keep in mind that the energy may last about 3-6 hours (depending on how much powder you poured) so you can stay focused on your daily activities. Kiss Me gives a well-balanced caffeine and L-theanine, creating a more lenient type of jitters.
100% certified organic Japanese Matcha.
Steady energy without the caffeine crash.
large amounts of matcha may lead to an upset stomach.
GYOKURO LOOSE LEAF
Tealyra Gyokuro is more on the expensive side of tea, yet the quality is luxurious with highly concentrated antioxidants. Harvest from Yame, Japan, its all-natural organic green tea is unflavored, which has no filters. It comes with some loose leaves and brewed into a beautiful dark-green color. The shading produces a unique smell with a more natural sweetness.
Lowers bad cholesterol and helps burn fat in the body.
On the expensive side.
GYOKURO TEA BAG
A more flavorful drink with less bitter taste than most green teas bought in supermarkets. Currently one of the cheapest teas to buy online. If you like a nice natural flavor tea at a cheap price, then Maeda-En Premium is the tea to go.
No artificial colors or flavors.
Brewed for only or 2-4 minutes.
Not been evaluated by the FDA.
HOJICHA LOOSE LEAF
Originally from Kyoto, the beautiful authentic city has a suitable climate due to many fogs and cold mornings, which fits well with the rich soil beneath. In addition, the climates help produce a nice delicious tea. Certified with the JAS program, no pesticide is used for farming the tea and only natural fertilized soil is required. The coloration of the tea in a pleasant earthy tone.
Harvested in a rich natural environment.
JAS organic certification.
Usually sold during certain seasons.
GENMAICHA LOOSE LEAF
Another Amazon’s top choice, Davidson’s Tea Bulk is USDA certified for any testing of safety. Served with loose leaves and is packed in a paper stand up pouch (SUP) with aluminum foil, which keeps the leaves nice and fresh. Green tea can also be consumed by children since it does not contain too much caffeine.
USDA Certified Organic.
Usually sold with SUP with aluminum foil to maintain freshness.
May differ from similar products sold elsewhere outside of the USA.