Japanese green tea benefits: an introduction
Japanese tea brands have gained worldwide popularity due to its calming and curative effects. It is consumed all over the world not merely as a pleasurable beverage but also as a drink having the nutritional and health benefits. Japanese tea is another name for Green tea which is consumed and enjoyed by both the young and the old in Japan.
The most famous Japanese locations for the cultivation of tea are Uji, Shizuoka, Kagoshima, Fukuoka, and Kumamoto. Tea drinking is an integral part of Japanese people who consume tea at any time of the day.
Innumerable types of teas are grown in Japan and that speaks volumes about the popularity of the Japanese tea all across the world. Japanese Matcha tea is a tea brand famous all over the world not merely as a drink but also as a flavoring agent of the majority of food items.
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Japanese Green Tea Benefits:
After water, tea is the second most consumed drink in the world. The ever-increasing popularity of the Japanese green tea is because of its numerous health benefits that have been duly acknowledged by medical experts.
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1. High in Antioxidants:
Thanks to the high level of antioxidants contained in green tea, one can get good health and better immune system at a quite affordable price. Antioxidants prevent premature aging by preventing the growth of free radicals. The catechin in green tea has an antioxidation effect which is 20 times more powerful than that of vitamin E.
2. Relaxing Effect on Brain and Body:
Recent scientific studies have proven that green tea has a positive effect on the working of the brain with enhanced performance and increased capacity to memorize daily events and happenings. The taste, color and aroma of the tea work towards relaxing the day-to-day exhaustion of both body and brain.
3. Anti- Cancerous:
Polyphenols, catechin, theanine and other vitamins contained in Japanese tea are effective fighters against different types of cancers and tumors. Polyphenol, an important constituent of antioxidants, reduces the chances of these harmful diseases if green tea is taken on a regular basis.
4. Effective against Food Poisoning:
Green tea works effectively against all kinds of food poisoning caused by viruses and bacteria. Not only does it improve digestion but also helpful in preventing various other gastrointestinal problems.
5. Shed Extra Kilos:
Green tea has been universally recognized as an effective fat burner. Daily intake of it burns harmful fats and extra calories to give you slim and attractive figure. Japanese green tea is world famous for its high nutritional value and has been acknowledged as a specialized sports drink due to the effects of its natural ingredients.
6. Get Enhanced Alertness:
The caffeine content in green tea can improve judgment and cognition. If you are suffering from sleeplessness, Japanese tea can help you get sound sleep that in turn ensures your overall well being.
7. Ensures Beautiful Skin:
Japanese tea contains five times more vitamin C than a lemon. which delays aging and keeps your face wrinkle free for years. Drinking Japanese tea can make your skin look glowing and beautiful. It also prevents skin against sunburns and dark circles around eyes.
8. Maintenance of Health:
Japanese tea brands have earned a lot of name and fame for the health benefits they have provided to people.
Green tea helps our body remain alkalescent, a necessary condition for good health. Though irregular meals and exhaustion can cause acidity in our bodies and ruin our health, the minerals contained in Japanese green tea prevent acidification and serve to keep the body healthy.
9. Effective against Cardiovascular Diseases:
We are just beginning to understand the effects that green tea catechin has upon adult diseases such as high blood pressure and strokes. The oxidization of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) in the blood causes arteriosclerosis, which green tea catechin helps prevent through anti-oxidation.
10. Inhibits Cavities and Bad Breath:
Catechin has disinfecting qualities and prevents the development of cavities as well as bad breath. Drinking Japanese green tea on a regular basis can help you get rid of the problem of bad breath, dental issues, and oral problems.
Precisely these are the great Japanese green tea benefits.
There are many other Japanese green tea benefits which are really helpful to maintain overall good health. Regular intake of Japanese green tea is a wise decision for general well-being of the body and mind.
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Japanese Tea Brands
Green tea requires certain climatic and geographic conditions to grow. Tea plant does not grow well in cold climatic conditions as the tea plant has its origins in subtropical regions. The soil required for growing tea has to be moist with good moisture retention properties. These plants need to be properly watered so that the roots can grow and spread well.
There are many varieties of green teas produced in Japan and exported to other countries. Japanese tea brands are generally categorized according to their peculiar conditions of cultivation, processing method and regional origin.
Before going to know the famous Japanese tea brands, let me tell you how to brew Japanese green tea brands.
Japanese green teas should be steeped or brewed in kettles made from a material that is non-reactive. Kettles made of a reactive metal like aluminum must be avoided as it adversely affects the quality of the tea. The kettle made of reactive metal can chemically react with water and cause contamination of tea. Some of the best suitable non-reactive materials for kettle are ceramic, enamel, stainless steel, glass, and marble.
Famous Japanese tea brands
One of the most famous Japanese tea brands, Matcha was introduced in Japan in the 12th century by the Buddhist monks. The best quality Matcha is produced in the Uji region of Kyoto Prefecture. Matcha comes in the form of the nicely ground powder obtained from best quality leaves from shaded plants. The powdered Matcha is blended with water to give a strong taste in the form of bright green tea.
How is it Grown?
Best known for tea ceremonies and cooking, Matcha is the most famous green tea produced in Japan. It is the distinctive method of processing tea that imparts it a unique rich flavor and bright green tinge.
The young spring tea leaves are shaded for more than 3 weeks prior to harvest as shading method protects the young buds and leaves from the direct sunlight. Shading helps the tea leaves to accumulate more chlorophyll, giving Matcha its bright green color. It also changes the taste, flavor and aroma profile of Matcha tea. It increases the production of L-Theanine and other amino acids which results in umami sweetness that matcha tea provides with high invigorating energy.
As per some research studies, L-Theanine improves cognitive function of the body, increases focus of the mind, and relieve stress. Due to the high levels of L-Theanine, the caffeine content in Matcha is at moderate level which provides a state of relaxed alertness.
The young buds and leaves are steamed and dried immediately after plucking, and then the stalks and veins are removed from the leaves. This produces Tencha. And then grinding of Tencha is started to make matcha green tea powder.
- High in anti-oxidants, Matcha green tea fights the free radicals in the body to improve the resistance against diseases.
- It helps to burn extra calories and keeps you fit and healthy.
- Not only does it relax the body but also keep the mind stress free.
- Keeps in check the blood sugar, cholesterol level and boosts the immune system.
- Rich in vitamins, minerals, calcium, fiber, chlorophyll, zinc and magnesium, match powdered green tea has a great nutritional value.
- Detoxifies body effectively and naturally to boost the metabolism.
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If you happen to visit a Japanese home, there is every possibility that you will be offered Sencha green tea. The best quality tea leaves are used to make Sencha that is the most common variety of Japanese green tea. It is made using the leaves picked during the first round of harvest. The leaves which are grown under the sun go into the making of this high-quality green tea.
The process of Making Sencha:
The plucked leaves are steamed so that they don’t get fermented and their color does not get changed. The steaming helps maintain the distinctive flavor of the tea. The leaves are further dried and crushed to be packaged for sale.
Sencha is famous for its luxurious sweetness and flowery fragrance. The early spring harvests or first picking of the tea leaves also known as Ichi-ban cha are considered for producing the highest quality Sencha. The first harvest generally occurs during the period from April to May and produces Sencha of bright green color with strong sweet aroma.
- As Sencha is grown under direct sunlight, it contains a very important antioxidant called catechin which helps fight high blood pressure and effective at reducing cholesterol level in blood.
- Antioxidants like catechin fight free radicals in your body which damage your cells and make you at lower risk of cancer. Sencha has anti-cancerous properties.
- It strengthens your dental health because of the presence of fluoride and minerals in it. Sencha also fights bad breath and improves oral health.
- The Caffeine and Theanine in Sencha improve concentration and mental alertness.
- Regular intake of Sencha tea will boost your immune system.
Another famous Japanese tea brand, Genmaicha is produced from Genmai that is a variety of unpolished brown rice. Genmai is roasted and mixed with tea leaves of Sencha and Bancha. Having unique flavor and yellowish color, Genmaicha is amongst the top green teas in Japan.
Historically, it is the cheapest variety of tea, nowadays it is appreciated for its unique grassy flavor and roasted aroma. The roasted brown rice adds a slightly nutty taste. The mild flavor of Genmaicha and its low caffeine content make it a suitable drink to be consumed after the dinner.
Japanese green tea benefits- Genmaicha
- Rich in Polyphenols such as gallic acid, catechins, and other antioxidants, Genmaicha is recognized as an effective health booster.
- Genmaicha removes toxins from the body as it is high in antioxidants.
- This brown rice tea improves the selenium level in the body that helps in the proper functioning of the thyroid.
- It also helps in the reduction of excess weight.
- It is the presence of selenium in the brown rice tea that makes it an effective drink against asthma.
- Brown rice tea contains an amino acid called GABA which reduces anxiety and stress.
- Genmaicha is also effective against the issues of poor digestion and bloated stomach.
- The presence of EGCG and in the brown rice tea makes one look young and wrinkle free.
A variety of Sencha, Bancha is a common tea produced from the leaves obtained from the second round of harvesting. The leaves of the spring are used for making Sancha and those of the summer and autumn are used for Bancha.
It usually contains those large and mature leaves which largely remained discarded during the production of Sencha. The upper stems of the plants are also used to give it its distinctive flavor. Bancha is less aromatic but more astringent than Sancha.
Nevertheless, Bancha is the much appreciated tea brand in Japan for its robust and delightful flavor. Normally Bancha is consumed along with food because of its strong and flavorful character.
Japanese green tea Bancha benefits- Bancha
- Bancha tea has a high nutritional value and its daily intake helps in the overall physical well being and mental equilibrium.
- Rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-cancer agents like catechin and Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), Bancha has amazing health benefits.
- Because of containing low caffeine, it is enjoyed by both the young and the old alike.
- Not only does it prevent different types of cancers, but also lowers blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol level.
- Effectively fights against bacterial infections and kidney and liver disorders.
Also known as ‘twig tea’, Kukicha is another Japanese tea brand made from the twigs and stems of the Camellia Sinensis tea plant. It is considered a lower grade green tea than Matcha, Sencha, and Gyokuro. The stems and stalks normally discarded in the production of Sencha and Gyokuro are used in the production of Kukicha. The flavor and aroma profiles are light and refreshing with a light sweet taste.
Japanese green tea benefits- Kukicha
Kukicha tea is quite beneficial from the point of view of health.
- It helps reduce high blood pressure and improves digestive system of the body.
- Not only does it reduce fatigue and exhaustion but also fights certain types of cancers.
- It reduces extra fat and lowers the cholesterol level.
- Rich in vitamin C and calcium, it builds bone density.
Gyokuro is the most expensive green tea brand produced in Japan. Dark green with a refreshing aroma, Gyokuro has a slightly sweet taste. It’s high in caffeine and low in bitter tasting catechins.
How is Gyokuro made?
It is also the highest grade tea made in the same way as Sencha, the only difference being that Gyokuro is protected from directed sunlight for about 3 weeks after harvest. Gyokuro is also similar to Kabuse Cha, the only difference being that Kabuse Cha is protected from the sun for about 1 week.
Gyokuro is prepared only with the first flush tea leaves and its unique sweetness is due to the high levels of L-theanine, an amino acid which is accumulated by the tea leaves during the shading time.
Gyokuro is a sensitive green tea and needs to be carefully brewed to bring out the best flavor. Cooler water around 140 degrees Fahrenheit and a bit larger amount of leaf around 2 teaspoons per cup are recommended to reveal the special flavor of Gyokuro.
Japanese green tea benefits- Gyokuro
Gyokuro has numerous health benefits, thanks to the high level of antioxidants contained in it.
- Antioxidants fight free radicals which are responsible for a number of diseases including different types of cancer and tumor. Gyokuro tea strengthens the immune system and enables it to fight harmful bacteria causing serious health issues.
- As it is exposed to the sun for quite a long time, it contains caffeine which enhances your mental alertness and improves concentration.
- By taking Gyokuro on a regular basis, you can rest assured about the reduced risk of such diseases as blood sugar, cardiovascular diseases, higher cholesterol level and high blood pressure.
- Fluoride and minerals contained in the Gyokuro tea will give you healthier teeth and a better oral health.
Hojicha is a green tea roasted over charcoal at high temperature. The roasting process gives the leaves their characteristic reddish-brown color. Mostly Bancha or Kuchika is roasted over high heat to make Hojicha that has a roasty and refreshing taste with no bitterness. Lower in caffeine, it makes a great after-dinner tea.
First bring water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon of Hojicha per 6-ounce cup of properly boiled water and steep it for 2-3 minutes. Steeping time depends on your requirement. If you need one strong cup then steep it for more time.
Strains the tea after steeping is over and pours small quantity of Hojicha into the cup and gets the taste of tea until the last drop. As Japanese believe that the last drop of the tea provides ultimatum taste of great tea.
You can even use the same brewed tea for three subsequent brewing.
Hojicha Japanese green tea benefits:
- Like other varieties of green tea, Hojicha too ensures better health and physical and mental well being.
- Hojicha is more suitable for children and elders as it contains less amount of caffeine.
- This tea helps fight different types of bacteria and viruses, which improves one’s immune system and metabolism.
- Not only does Hojicha tea work effectively against cardiovascular diseases, but also provides protection from tooth decay, poor digestion, obesity, and cancer.
8. Kabuse Cha:
A variety of Sencha, Kabuse Cha has a strong umami flavor as it is shaded for about 10 to 14 days before harvest. With Gyukuro, the entire tea field is shaded but for Kabuse Cha, the tea plant itself is properly covered. It has Sencha’s refreshing flavor and Gyukuro’s sweetness as it takes its position between them. Sencha is grown in unshaded gardens exposed to direct sunlight. The Kabuse Cha tend to have a mellower flavor and subtler color than sencha that is grown in direct sunlight.
Bring the water to boiling point of 70ºC, the same temperature for brewing sencha. Add one and half teaspoon of Kabuse cha per 6 ounce cup. Steep it for 2 minutes and serve hot.
Japanese green tea benefits- Kabuse Cha
- Kabuse cha has lots of health benefits due to the richness of antioxidants in it. They help you stay healthy and cure many harmful diseases.
- Kabusecha can be drunk every day in order to help you lose weight. Coupled with nutritious food and daily workout, you can shed extra kilos in a matter of a few days.
- Similar to Gyokuro, Kabuse Cha tea prevents heart problems. High in vitamins and other nutrients, this tea helps lower blood pressure and high cholesterol level.
These are the most famous and healthy Japanese green tea brands that every tea lover should taste once.
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Tea Producing Regions of Japan
Japan has established its reputation as a leading producer and supplier of green tea. Japanese tea has been universally recognized and acclaimed as best quality tea in the world. Tea is grown in almost all the regions of Japan, thanks to the suitable climatic conditions for the growth of tea plants.
Different types of green teas are grown there which have consolidated the supreme position of Japanese tea brands all across the globe. However, the following six regions are the biggest tea producing areas in Japan.
1. Shizuoka Prefecture:
Also known as “The Kingdom of Green Tea”, Shizuoka produces more than 40% of Japan’s Green tea. Sencha is produced in the majority here. Tenryu, Kawane and the Abe river region in the north are famous for producing high-quality tea with peculiar taste and invigorating aroma. Honyama is another major tea producing area having lots of tea gardens.
Having access to plenty of clean water, the prefecture is leading in the beverage industry. Shizuoka prefecture shares 18% of the national beverage production and which is the highest contribution as a single prefecture. Shizuoka prefecture seeks to sustain its dominance in tea production by conducting advanced research on the benefits of green tea.
Green tea plantations here date back to 1241 when Shoichi Kokushi, a Buddhist Monk planted green tea seeds near his hometown in present-day Shizuoka Prefecture. He obtained tea seeds during his trip to China in the reign of Song dynasty. Shizuoka’s climate, water quality and proximity to major ports have consolidated its position as a major region for green tea production. In addition, Shizuoka’s green tea comes in a number of different varieties, giving it significant versatility.
Shizuoka goes beyond simply producing tea and makes every effort to introduce the pleasures of tea to the world through a variety of tea-themed facilities and events. The World Tea Museum, located in the well-known tea-growing area of Makinohara, offers detailed exhibits on tea, Japanese tea ceremony rooms, and regular events, such as introductions to Chinese tea ceremonies. Come to Shizuoka and experience for yourself all that tea at one of these locations.
2. Kagoshima Prefecture:
The second major tea producing area after Shizuoka is Kagoshima that is located on the southern island of Kyushu. About 20% of Japan’s commercial tea production each year is from this region that has a chain of dormant and active volcanoes.
Kagoshima is bordered to the north by Kumamoto prefecture which is another major tea producing region in Japan. The main varieties of green tea produced here are Matcha, Sencha, Bancha, Shincha, Hojicha, Genmaicha, and Kabusecha.
Famous for delightfully tasteful and strong green tea, this region produces a wide variety of green teas. Throughout the year, the climate here is mild and humid as is best suited for the production and growth of tea. From April to October, five heavy harvests are produced in this region.
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3. Fukuoka Prefecture:
It is because of its cool, moist and humid climate that Yame produces the high-quality Gyokuro in huge quantity. Located on the northern coast of Kyūshū, it’s the southernmost part of Japan. Fukuoka is a major industrial and tea producing region. Fukuoka is bordered by Kumamoto to the south, and Saga to the west; both of these prefectures are also important tea producing regions.
The climatic conditions of the region are appropriate for growing green tea. Summer is hot and humid here and that is an ideal condition for the good growth of tea plants. Fukuoka has one of Japan’s largest tea manufacturing companies in Yame city.
4. Kyoto Prefecture:
Just South of the historical city of Kyoto on the island of Honshu, the world famous tea gardens are located in the Uji region. Uji is Japan’s oldest tea producing region famous all over the world for high-quality Matcha, Sencha and Gyokuro.
Uji is an elegant town best known for Byodoin Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you are fond of tea, you will enjoy your time in Uji a lot. The oldest tea shop of the world ‘The Tsuen Tea Shop’ of Uji is famous for the history dating back hundreds of years which is a must visit place of every tea tourist.
Kyobancha, a peculiar type of green tea, a large-leaf roasted green tea that has very low caffeine, originated in the Uji region. Kyoto has established its reputation as a key station in tea production with a wide variety of teas being produced there. The chief of them being Sencha, Matcha, Hojicha, Gyokuro, Bancha, Kabuse Cha and many more. In Uji area, tea cultivation began towards the closing years of the twelfth century.
5. Saga Prefecture:
This region is well known for producing good quality Sencha and Kamairi-cha. It is also located in the Kyūshū Island of Japan.
The climate here is mild and humid with high overall rainfall. Most of the rain here falls in summer which is a boon considering the ideal growth of tea. The region has more fertile and arable land than most parts of Japan and this is what makes Saga Prefecture perfect for producing the huge quantity of green tea in every season.
6. Kumamoto Prefecture:
A mountainous region with gardens of varieties of green tea all around, Kumamoto is famous for producing aromatic, flavored and tasteful tea. It is located on Kyushu that is the southernmost island of Japan.
This region is mountainous and active in volcanic activity, although it also extends to the coast. The climate of the Island is relatively moderate and has very high rate of precipitation. Kumamoto is a major producer of tea and is bordered by Kagoshima prefecture to the south which is another important tea producing region of Japan.
Japan’s contribution has been immense in introducing the unique flavors of green teas to the world. The most popular Japanese tea brands i.e. sencha and matcha are grown throughout the country. However, other grades such as Gyokuro, Bancha, and Hujicha are grown in specific locations.
The Japanese tea brands have become the part and parcel of the lives of people all over the world. There is hardly any country in the world where the aroma and flavors of Japanese tea brands have not reached.
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Sencha is known for its sweet taste, light green color and refreshing aroma.
Gyokuro is regarded as the finest tea from the Japanese staple as it has a distinct sweetness obtained through the protection of tea leaves from the direct rays of the sun.
Matcha is another well-known variant of green tea that comes in powdered form and is blended in water to give sweet and sharp taste.
Not only are these varieties of tea delightfully tasteful but are also high in nutrition value. You can make yourself healthy and fit by making the green tea an integral part of your daily life.
Really, Japanese green tea benefits are great for good health and the Japan is a wonderful country for experiencing tea ceremonies and the thrilling tea plantation tour.
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