- Takeshi Senuma
How to Brew Delicious Japanese Tea – 7 Tricks to Keep in Mind
Tea is an essential drink for Japanese people and is also the perfect souvenir to bring back from a journey to Japan! This article will explain how to choose, brew, and preserve Japanese tea, which has been cultivated for a long time and shaped by the country's climate and culture.
What Is Japanese Tea?
Japanese tea is a beverage made using the leaves and stems of tea plants cultivated in Japan. It generally refers to "sencha" - tea made with sprouts that have been steamed and dried while being rolled - but the term can also stand for all other kinds of Japanese tea, such as the high-grade "gyokuro", or tea grown while avoiding direct sunlight; "hojicha" which is roasted on high heat; and "matcha", commonly used in tea ceremonies. Kyoto, Shizuoka, and Saitama are famous production areas for Japanese tea; however, tea is cultivated all around the nation and every locality has its own brand of tea.
What Is Needed to Brew Tea?
The necessary items to brew tea are a small teapot made to infuse tea, called "kyusu"; a tea strainer known as "chakoshi"; and small teacups called "yunomi chawan" to drink the tea with. In case there is no net inside the teapot, a "chakoshi" can be used to prevent tea leaves from falling into the teacup. It would also be convenient to have a tea caddy, called "chazutsu", to store tea leaves, as well as a tea scoop, called "chasaji", to put tea leaves in the teapot.
How to Brew Delicious Japanese Tea
Put the needed amount of tea (1 person = around 1 tablespoon, from 2.5g to 3g) in the teapot, then put boiling water in the teacups that will be used. If you are using sencha, the water should immediately be poured into the teapot, while for gyokuro, the water should be poured in the teapot after letting it cool for 2 or 3 minutes. With this small effort, the water will be at the most suitable temperature. After pouring water in the teapot, wait 20 to 30 seconds for sencha or 2 minutes for gyokuro, then pour the tea in the teacups. In case you are brewing tea for 2 or more people, pour it uniformly little by little in each cup to make the intensity of the tea even for everyone, and use up all the water.
Tricks to Brew Even More Delicious Tea
To make tea even more delicious, try being picky about water. The most suitable kind for Japanese tea is slightly acidic water. Almost all the water in Japan falls under this category, however tap water contains chlorine, so it should be used after letting it boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Using tea of your preferred variety or origin is certainly fine, but "ichibancha", made with the first sprouts of the year, has an especially refreshing aroma and a fresh taste!
How to Properly Store Tea
Light, air, the humidity level, and temperature all affect the quality of Japanese tea, so it is recommended to buy it in small quantities and use it up in 2 weeks to 1 month if possible. After opening the package, tea leaves should be placed in an hermetically sealed container that also protects them from light, such as a tea caddy, which should then be stored in a cool place away from sunlight. Unopened packages can be stored in the fridge as they are.
Japan's distinctive custom of drinking tea does not stop at the "sencha" and "gyokuro" teas showcased in this article, but also includes matcha, which is used in traditional tea ceremonies. Start from sencha, which can be enjoyed casually, and then if you have a chance, try enjoying matcha!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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