Tea Brewing Advice and Some Common Questions about Japanese Green Tea
How to Brew Japanese Loose-Leaf Tea
It's simple and easy!
If the tea is a very fine powder use one full teaspoon, which is approximately 4g by weight.
If the tea consists of large tea leaves* or stems, use two full teaspoons which also totals approximately 4g by weight.
* for Hojicha use three to four teaspoons.
Please follow the suggested temperature chart provided.
Hojicha for 30 seconds or less
Genmaicha for 30 seconds
Sencha for 30 to 90 seconds; larger tea leaves take longer to brew.
Gyokuro for 60–90 seconds.
Generally higher brewing temperatures make stronger tea. If your prepared tea is too strong or too weak for your taste adjust temperature, brewing time or quantity of tea.
Japanese Tea Taste Varies by Brewing Temperature
There are three main components of tea that affect the taste: the harmony of sweetness, astringency and bitterness.
L-Theanine, is a type of amino acid that tastes sweet and is the most important taste component. L-Theanine is released at lower temperatures than other components so to enjoy the sweetness of Japanese tea controlling brewing temperature is very important.
Catechins, which are a type of polyphenol, are responsible for the astringent taste.
Caffeine is responsible for bitterness.
Please chck out our Japanese Tea Term Glossary for explanations of various terms commonly found when discussing Japanese Green Tea.
Q & A
Q: Why do you suggest brewing Hojicha at a high temperature? Does this not make the tea strong and too bitter?
A: No, brewing Hojicha with high temperature does not make the tea taste strong. Hojicha is roasted at a higher temperature and the roasting process burns away the bitterness and caffeine. We have three strengths of Hojicha; “Hojicha Lightly Roasted Amber Premium”,” Hojicha Classic” and super mild “San-nen Bancha Roasted Tea” which is aged up to three years. View all Hojicha.
Q: Can you explain first and second infusion?
A: The first time you pour hot water onto the tea leaves, the leaves are dry so be aware of the temperature and use the lowest temperature range for the type of tea. After pouring tea make sure to remove all excess water from the leaves. If tea leaves are left soaked in water, they keep steeping, ruining the second infusion. To brew a second time, use a higher temperature than the first infusion, as the tea leaves are damp and cold and already opened, so higher temperature and shorter brewing time is recommended.
Q: Can you explain first, second, and third flush?
A: The first flush of a tea growing season is tea picked first usually in March-April. The second flush is the tea picked at a later time, usually June-July. The third flush is during Autumn, October-November. The flushes affect the tea flavor as the taste matures and changes during the growing cycle.
Q: Can I use tea ball infuser?
A: No, please do not use a tea ball infuser for Japanese tea. Japanese teas are tightly rolled and require plenty of space to allow the leaves to open so that flavor can be extracted. Some Japanese tea leaves are in fine powdery form and a Japanese tea pot is recommended; however, if not available a mesh strainer can be used.
Q: Should tea be stored in a refrigerator?
A: Storing un-opened packaged tea in the refrigerator is a good idea. Before use, however, please allow enough time for the tea to return to room temperature before you open the bag, this avoids temperature shocking the tea. A sudden change in temperature can cause condensation in the bag, potentially degrading the tea through moisture. We recommend, therefore, that you store your unopened tea package in the refrigerator but once it is opened, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark location.
Q: Health Benefits of Green Tea
A: Green tea tastes good and is a comforting, refreshing drink. We usually promote the flavor of our teas over the health benefits as we are not scientists, however there is much research to suggest green tea can benefit health by virtue of its constituent parts. The health-promoting effects of green tea are mainly attributed to its polyphenol content particularly flavanoids. The most effective of which is attributed to its most abundant catechin, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG3). Please see National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and other sites for more information.
Q: What is Matcha?
A: Matcha is made from shade-grown tea plants that are picked and processed in a time honored way to create a fine powder. The preparation starts several weeks before harvest. The plants are covered to avoid direct sunlight, this makes the color a more intense green and slows down growth. The shading also helps in the production of the amino acid theanine - the substance found in green tea is thought to provide the relaxing properties of Matcha. After harvesting the leaves have their stems and veins removed. The remaining high-quality leaves are then stone-ground into a fine powder. This fine, intensely green powder is called matcha.
Q: Does Japanese Green Tea have Caffeine?
A: The short answer to this question is yes. Caffeine is a natural substance common in over 50 plants, it is a natural pesticide that plants use to resist pests and allow for strong growth. The amount of caffeine varies by the type of tea and how it is brewed. The following numbers are not precise because of the wide variety in growing conditions, plants, production method and preparation methods used and are intended as a guide only. The most common Japanese tea is Sencha and that has between 15mg to 70mg per 8oz (240ml) cup. Bancha is the green tea with the lowest level of caffeine with about 10mg per cup. Gyokuro amongst the common teas has the highest level of caffeine at about 60mg. The high number associated with Gyokuro is because the shading process used whilst growing the tea plants, Matcha, another shaded tea also has relatively high caffeine levels. For comparison caffeine levels in an 8oz (240ml) cup of coffee range from 80mg to 200+ mg.
Q: What does this or that term mean?
A: We have a comprehensive list of words and terms that one may come across when looking at discussions on Japanese green Tea. Please see our Tea Glossary for help with the sometimes confusing world of tea.