There are many companies producing bottled or canned green tea in Japan. This is because Japan has the highest number of vending machines selling tea in the world.
Here is a list and brief explanations of major Japanese Green Tea Manufacturers in 2019.
I have also included their popular products and link to buy from Amazon.
How many have you tried?
Ito En, the Originator
Ito En is Japan’s #1 manufacturer of canned and bottled green tea products. The company was the first to make a canned green tea drink that was sold in Japanese vending machines when it debuted its canned sencha green tea in 1985.
Today, Ito En’s signature bottled green tea product is Ooi Ocha-Ryokucha, which translates into English as, “Hey, Tea!” Sold in a clear, plastic bottle with a leaf-green wrapper, Ooi Ocha-Ryokucha is Japan’s best-selling vending machine green tea.
The tea is made from tea leaves grown in Japan, using only water and vitamin C as its other ingredients for a natural, fresh taste. Light-tasting beverages without sugar are a popular tea trend in Japan, and these drinks are beginning to be increasingly consumed worldwide. Ito En’s tea products come in two different plastic bottles: one that is designed to be served cold, and the other that is designed to be held at a specific, warm temperature range inside a vending machine.
Ito En’s other bottled green teas include:
Ooi Ocha-Koicha: This variety has a stronger taste than the Ryokucha variety.
Ooi Ocha-Hojicha: While other varieties of bottled tea are light yellowish-green in color, this tea is brown due to a light roasting of the tea leaves.
Ooi Ocha-Genmaicha: Genmaicha is a mild green tea that pairs well with tempura and other fried foods. The ingredients include a combination of green tea and lightly roasted brown rice, giving this bottled tea a distinctive yellow color.
Jasmine Green Tea: This blend combines green tea with jasmine flowers for a very fragrant yet delicate-tasting brew.
Golden Oolong Tea: Oolong tea has less caffeine than Ito En’s other green tea offerings, so this iced tea variety can be drunk closer to bedtime.
Ito-en's oolong tea is known as the first oolong tea sold in Japan in 1979. Ito-en also introduced can version of oolong tea in 1981 which surprised the industry as all the can products at that time were only for soda or sweet drink. They were the first to introduce non-sweet can drink to Japan and to the world.
Vending machines in Japan continue to offer Ito En’s canned sencha in addition to other canned versions of matcha and oolong tea. Over 2.5 billion green tea cans are sold in Japan per year with Sapporo making up an 80% share of the entire market. Ito En began importing Chinese tea leaves in 1979, thus making it Japan’s first importer of Chinese oolong tea.
Suntory: A Functional Favorite
Iyemon: The #2 selling bottled green tea in Japan. To make this blend, Suntory partnered with a traditional Fukujuen tea grower in Kyoto for a rich flavor.
Iyemon Tokucha: A functional drink, this green tea variation is specifically for those drinkers who are trying to lose weight as it contains a polyphenol that is said to help break down stored body fat. This is part of the FOSHU drink trend (i.e., Food for Specified Health Uses).
- Suntory Oolong Tea Known for less bitter taste than other type of Oolong tea which is being loved by many Japanese.
- Suntory Black Oolong Tea: Combining oolong green tea with black tea, Suntory produces this bottled cold tea for consumers looking to avoid the bitter aftertaste that green teas can sometimes have.
Ayataka, the American Upstart
Ayataka is a Japanese arm of the U.S. based Coca-Cola company. The Kyoto-based company’s bottled green tea products are known for their cloudiness–unlike the clear beverages made by Ito En and Suntory–which comes from the use of specially milled powdered tea leaves of very high quality.
Ayataka Heaven and Earth Green Tea: Available in vending machines as cans and bottles, this unsweetened green tea blend is noted for its cloudiness and is said to taste very similar to tea poured from a teapot.
Sokenbicha: Available in five flavors. Some of Sokenbicha’s brews are green or oolong teas, and others are barley teas which contain no actual tea leaves. Each flavor represents one of Japan’s traditional five elements.
UCC (Ueshima Coffee Company): Not Just Coffee Anymore
Ueshima Coffee Company, or UCC, originated the canned coffee beverage available in vending machines in Japan. Although coffee remains the company’s most important product, recently it has branched out into tea. UCC makes a traditional canned green tea without sugar or calories as well as a canned oolong tea.
UCC Barista is a canned beverage available in many coffee flavors, however, there is also one Uzi Matcha variety. Matcha lattes contain sugar and whole milk powder and are said to be lightly sweet.
Beer Companies That Also Brew Tea
Another trend in the Japanese beverage market is companies that sell beer and other alcoholic beverages producing lines of tea products and other soft drinks that can be found in vending machines across the nation. Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo are three of the most prominent.
Asahi’s soft drinks include bottled 16 Blended tea, which is a barley-based herbal tea product that–ironically–doesn’t actually contain any tea leaves. The Asahi company also makes the extremely popular lactic acid beverage, Calpis (a sports drink). Additionally, under the Calpis name Asahi makes a FOSHU green tea called Calpis Kenchao.
Like Asahi, the Kirin company is mostly known in Japan as a manufacturer of alcoholic drinks. Kirin does make soft drinks, however, including Japan’s most popular line of black tea beverages, Gogo-no-Kocha. Kirin introduced this ready-to-drink black tea blend in 1986. Kirin makes an unsweetened black tea called This Afternoon, which is also available in a milk tea version that has whole milk and sugar added. Kirin also sells a peach-flavored tea made with Dimbula tea leaves imported from Sri Lanka. Interestingly, Dimbula is a kind of black tea, but Kirin’s peach tea has a light yellow color, similar to an oolong tea.
Gogo-no-kocha - This Afternoon Tea - Plain
Gogo-no-kocha - This Afternoon Tea - Milk tea version
Gogo-no-kocha - This Afternoon Tea - Peach flavored version
Kirin’s green tea product is called Nama-cha. With the popularity of Ayataka’s cloudy products, Nama-cha recently underwent a makeover to make the tea cloudier. Japanese consumers approve of the change, even though (by Japanese standards) Nama-cha is one of the sweetest of the bottled green tea beverages.
Pokka is Singapore’s top food and beverage company and the #1 seller of green tea in Singapore. In partnering with the Sapporo Brewery, the oldest beer brewery in Japan, Pokka sells Japanese consumers bottled green, white, and oolong tea beverages along with iced fruit teas and Afternoon Tea (black tea) in unsweetened and sweetened/milk varieties. One of its specialties is a roasted green tea.(Hojicha)
Pokka Green Tea - This one has gyokuro in the can!
Pokka Oolong Tea
Pokka Black Tea
Pokka Roasted Green Tea (Kaga Hojicha)
This article is part of Kei Nishida’s published book: Green Tea Cha – How Japan and the World Enjoy Green Tea in the 21st Century
This article was also published on T-Ching where my article is featured.
Please Click Below Image to Get My Book Green Tea Cha : How Japan and the World Enjoy Green Tea in the 21st Century from Amazon (Both Printable Format and Kindle Version Available)
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
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Kei Nishida is back with his latest book on the subject of Green Tea, Green Tea Cha, How Japan and the world Enjoys Green Tea in the 21st Century. In this 143 page book Tokyo native Nishida covers the changing use and appreciation for tea in the 21st Century. He brings together a collection of facts and observances that allows the reader to peer into the cultural mindset of those who enjoy Green Tea. He begins by explaining how tea is enjoyed in Japan today and the merger of traditional Japanese culture with that of the jihanki (vending machines) and ends with a discussion of Green Tea Beverages that “you’ve never heard of before but are drop dead delicious.” Each chapter brings together a plethora of information about the uses of Green Tea in his pleasant, informative style, encouraging the reader to seek out these drinks and dishes for themselves. By the end of the book readers will not only have a list of “must try” drinks and dishes but also an appreciation for this powerful, tasty antioxidant.
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- Kei and Team at Japanese Green Tea Co.