Tasting gyokuro in Shizuoka, Japan
We begin our exploration of Japanese tea with a brief discussion of the types of tea grown in Japan. The vast majority—as much as 90%—of tea grown and consumed in Japan is green tea. This includes a subgenre of green teas that comprises 20 different "types," differing by region and processing style. In fact, the term for tea, お茶・ocha, almost always refers to green tea—more specifically, matcha. To refer to oolong or black tea, one must explicitly name it (ウーロン・ooron for oolongs, and 和紅茶・wakoucha for black tea).
The most common types of Japanese green tea you may are already be familiar with: matcha, sencha, and houjicha have exploded in popularity here in the States over the past few years, thanks in part to the development of matcha lattes led by Starbucks, Blue Bottle, and others. With the exception of houjicha, which is roasted, Japanese green teas typically have a grassy, umami and sweet flavor profile. We will explore the different types of processing and flavor profiles of Japanese tea over the coming weeks, and I hope to introduce nuanced styles of green teas to Tekuno's collection as we discover them together.
At present, Tekuno's collection is comprised of 5 green teas and 1 unique white and black tea I had the fortune of discovering on my last sourcing trip. For those beginning to experiment with loose leaf Japanese teas, I might recommend our honyama sencha, which is sweet and full of umami; it is a beautiful representation of what is considered a "well-made" sencha in Japan.
A final note: green teas have a reputation for being bitter—before I began my journey in tea, I closely associated tea with bitterness and astringency. While it is true that some teas have more compounds that lend themselves to bitterness (these are likely grown with direct sun exposure), green tea leaves are naturally fragile and extract flavor best at a lower water temperature than boiling. All of our teas include brewing instructions, and I encourage you to play with different brew parameters as you dive into the world of tea.
With a cup of tea in hand,
We are keeping busy sipping tea and chatting with tea friends in our homes as SIP extends through May. While we do not yet have a date for re-opening, we are working on importing this year's harvest, which is underway throughout Japan. Please stay tuned :)
A world of dew,
And within every dewdrop
A world of struggle.