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How to Make Green Tea

Freshness is very important in Japanese green tea. Dry, oxidized teas, such as black or oolong tea, last much longer than green tea because green tea leaves easily deteriorate from contact with oxygen, ultraviolet light, humidity, and high temperatures. Matcha deteriorates more easily than other teas because it is ground into a fine powder and so more surface area is exposed to the air.

Transportation of green tea requires expertise and the right storage conditions, including controlled temperature, appropriate packaging, and carefully considered transportation routes.

Matsu Kaze teas are packaged in a sealed package by our suppliers in Japan and shipped by air to keep them fresh. We double-pack these packages into our Matsu Kaze packaging to ship to our customers. Once they are packaged in Japan, the tea doesn’t see sunlight or become exposed to oxygen until they reach our customers. Matsu Kaze external packaging can be used to keep the tea fresh once the supplier packaging is opened. This ensures that all of our quality teas are kept as fresh as possible. 

Green tea should be kept away from heat, light, air, moisture, and strong odours. Once a tea package is opened, the tea leaves should be used as soon as possible. It is best to purchase a small amount of tea and to use it up in a relatively short time.

When buying green tea, look for leaves that are deep green and shiny, and that are not broken. The leaves should feel smooth and should not crumble easily. They should smell fresh and fragrant.

Store green tea in a clean, odour-free, airtight, opaque container and open this as little as possible to avoid exposure to the elements. The container should be as small as possible to keep the amount of air that comes in contact with the leaves to a minimum. In Japan, green tea is often stored in an airtight steel canister known as a chazutsu.

Unopened packages of tea can stay relatively fresh in the refrigerator or freezer for up to one year. Condensation easily builds up on a tea package after it is taken out of the refrigerator or freezer so only unopened packages should be kept in those appliances. Wait a few hours to a half-day before opening a tea package taken out of the refrigerator or freezer to ensure that the package is at room temperature so that condensation does not adversely affect the quality of the tea. Tea stored in the refrigerator should be kept away from anything with a strong odour and stored in a well-sealed container. It’s probably not a good idea to store tea in a freezer unless you want to keep the unopened tea for more than six months.

Brewing a Great Cup of Green Tea

The brewing procedure is the same for each kind of Japanese green tea, but the quantity of tea, water temperature, brewing time and other factors are different for each variety. There are general brewing considerations for each type of tea, but it is important to alter the temperature of the water and the steeping time to your own taste.

Green tea, especially high grade gyokuro, sencha or matcha, should be brewed with soft water that contains few minerals. Hard water does not fully bring out the flavour of green tea. In areas where the water is particularly hard, water softeners or bottled water can be used. Matsu Kaze tests its teas with local hard water to ensure that the flavour is not compromised. We bring local hard water to Japan to test the teas with farmers and tea experts there to ensure our teas can maintain good flavour even steeped in very hard water.

The chlorine smell in tap water affects the flavour of tea and can be removed by either allowing the water to boil for more than two minutes or by letting the water stand in an uncovered pitcher for 5 to 10 hours before brewing.

Quality Japanese green teas can be steeped at least three times and still maintain good flavour. The first steeping opens up the tea leaves and generally provides the best aroma and flavour. After each steeping, ensure you drain all of the water from the teapot and remove the lid to let the steam out and lower the moisture; this will stop the infusion process and ensure better flavour in subsequent steepings. Brew the second steeping for about half the time of the first and use slightly hotter water and a longer brew time for the third steep. After the first steeping the tea leaves have opened, so steeping times and temperatures. Each infusion will have a unique flavour and aroma.

When serving green tea, pour a little into each cup, then go back and fill each cup so that the tea in each is uniform in strength and flavour.  This pouring process applies to all Japanese green teas.

Sencha and Fukamushicha

1.   Boil water, pour it into a small teapot, and let it sit for about 30 seconds for high grade sencha and 15 seconds for regular sencha, fukamushicha, kukicha or konacha.

2.   Pour the water from the teapot into the teacups and let it sit for another 30 seconds for high grade sencha and 15 seconds for regular sencha, fukamushicha, kukicha or konacha.

3.   Pour out any water left in the teapot.

4.   Add the tea leaves to the teapot. Use 2 teaspoons for high grade sencha and 2 1/3 teaspoons for regular sencha, fukamushicha, kukicha or konacha.

5.   Pour the water from the teacups into the teapot, cover the pot and let steep 2 minutes for high grade sencha and 30 to 60 seconds for regular sencha, fukamushicha, kukicha or konacha. This will make three cups of tea.

Following this process cools the water to the appropriate temperature for these teas and ensures that the right amount of tea and water is used.

For high grade sencha, the water should be at 176°F (80°C). At this temperature, the steam from a kettle drifts sideways rather than shooting straight up. Sencha’s refreshing, yet mellow aroma and balance of sweet and bitter taste (of catechin and caffeine) are enhanced at this temperature. At lower temperatures, the flavour becomes more mellow and less brisk. Medium grade tea should be made with water at 194°F (90° C) and should steep for about half the time of high grade sencha before being served. If sencha is brewed too long, it may become very bitter.

The flavour components of high grade sencha emerge at 140°F (60°C) and astringency components at 176°F (80°C). The first pouring will taste lighter than subsequent ones.

Gyokuro

Follow the process for sencha and fukamushicha, but let the boiling water sit for 1 minute each in the teapot and the cups. The water should be at 140°F (60°C) to enhance the sweetness of gyokuro tea. Use 3 teaspoons of leaves and steep for 2 to 3 minutes in order to extract as much of the rich flavour as possible. Using porcelain cups will show off the colour of the tea. Thin porcelain is not a problem, as this tea is not served very hot. The temperature feels pleasantly warm when holding the cup. This will make 3 cups of tea. 

Bancha, Houjicha and Genmaicha

For these teas, use boiling water. To make 5 servings, use 5 teaspoons of leaves and pour in 2 cups of water. Steep for 30 seconds. The secret for these teas is to use boiling water and pour the tea quickly. This tea tastes best when served immediately after it is poured. Using a large teapot and thick teacups that will retain heat well is recommended.

Steeping Instructions

Type of Tea

Number of Teacups

Amount of Tea

Water Temperature

Amount of Water

Steeping Time

(tsp)

(g)


(°F)


(°C)

(cup)

(min)

Sencha (high grade)

3

2

6

176

80

2/3

2

Sencha (regular)Fukamushicha

3

2 1/3

7

194

90

1

1/2 – 1

Gyokuro

3

3

9

140

60

1/3

2 – 3

BanchaHojicha

Genmaicha

5

5

15

212

100

1 3/4

1/2

Adapted from – New Taste in Green Tea (2007)

Matcha

Matcha is ground into a fine powder so it froths well. Because static electricity builds up easily, making the matcha lumpy, it is recommended that the matcha be sifted before whisking. When whisking, use the motion of your wrist to move the whisk in a “W” motion. This is not a circular stirring motion, but rather a series of short, quick jerks back and forth, to make a frothy foam.

There are two kinds of matcha: Usucha (standard) and Koicha (strong – used in the tea ceremony). When making Usucha, sift and remove any lumps, put 1 teaspoon of matcha into the bowl, add 70cc (1/4 cup) of water that is between 185°F (85°C) F and 212°F; 85 and (100° degrees C), then whisk the mixture.

Use the same procedure to make Koicha, but use only high quality matcha, using 2 teaspoons and 50cc (1/5 cup) of water.

Most nutrients found in green tea are water-soluble and can be extracted in water when making tea. However, some green tea nutrients such as beta carotene and vitamin E are oil-soluble and are best extracted in oil. If you drink matcha, you can ingest the tea in its entirety, including beta carotene, vitamin E, and other oil-soluble nutrients that are not usually extracted in water.

Flavours of Green Tea

Catechin (tannin) contributes a refreshing aroma and astringency to green tea. It is extracted in water in temperatures over 176°F (80°C). Catechin is also known for its beneficial effects and is found in leaves that are flooded with sunlight, such as sencha or bancha tea leaves.

Theanine, which contributes sweet taste and mellow aroma to green tea, is found in first-picked leaves. Gyokuro and matcha teas are rich in theanine because the leaves are grown in diffuse sunlight before being harvested. Theanine is known to relax the mind. It is extracted equally well in low and high temperatures.

Caffeine contributes a mildly bitter taste and is extracted best at high temperatures. It stimulates the central nervous system.

 

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