Japanese Green Tea
Green Tea is very popular in Japan - you would be
hard-pressed to find a household that does not serve it up with every meal.
It's hardly surprising that it is commonly referred to as "Japanese Tea",
even though it was first used in China during the reign of the Song dynasty,
and subsequently brought to Japan by a Buddhist monk.
Three of the best-known grades of Japanese tea are:
Gyokuru - this is the highest grade. The leaves are actually grown in the shade, and it has a pale green colour.
Kabusecha - its leaves are also grown in the shade, though not for as long as Gyokuru. It has a delicate flavour.
Sencha - the most common green tea in use in Japan. Its leaves are exposed to direct sunlight.
Tamaryokucha - This has a tangy taste (like berries) and an almondy aftertaste. It's also known as Guricha.
Bancha ('coarse tea') - this is not made from leaves, like the other varieties, but from the trimmed leftover twigs of the tea plant.
Kamaricha (pan-fried tea) - this does not undergo the same steam treatments as most other varieties, so the taste is not as bitter.
Steeping times vary with each type. It can be up to 3 minutes, and as short as 30 seconds. The lower quality teas need a longer steep. High quality green teas are usually given a short steep which is repeated 2 or 3 times. And like ordinary leaf tea, or tea bags, it's always a good idea to heat the teapot before steeping or brewing.
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