Glossary of Japanese Green Tea

Green tea is omnipresent in Japan. It is commonly known as tea. Most Japanese teas are from Yabukita and are a variety of the camellia sinensis plant. When compared to Chines green tea, the Japanese version is steamed and not pan-fired. The steaming gives the tea a leafier and greener taste. one exception is hōjicha, which is roasted.

Green tea is also classified by the age of the leaves; large mature leaves are called bancha and young leaves are called sencha. Moreover, the grades of tea are determined by the quality, processing and the parts of the tea plants that are used.

World of Japanese Green Tea is very wide and wonderful, but it is sometimes confusing with all the terms used. Here are glossary of commonly used terms when talking about Japanese Green Tea.

Type of Japanese Green Tea

  • Aracha (Crude Tea) : Aracha translates to "Wild Tea" in English. Aracha is green tea where the process of green tea keeps the original shape as it is cropped. Most green tea consumed are refined and processed green tea. In Japan, green tea is usually sold from the farmer to wholesaler where the wholesaler process and refine the tea. When green tea is provided to the wholesaler, the form of the green tea is usually Aracha where it has not been processed yet. This type of green tea is usually not distributed to consumers. However, due to being able to enjoy rich and natural taste and flavor, some fans prefer drinking this type.
  • Bancha (Coarse Tea): Ban means "late" in Japanese. When tea is harvested later in the year making the leave to be larger and mature, it is called Bancha. When it is harvested earlier, it is generally called "Sencha" (see below). Sencha is picked between Spring and Summer, Bancha is harvested between Summer and Autumn.  Bancha is usually considered lower grade and provides lower market value in Japan.   (Note: JapaneseGreenTea.com does not provide any of these lower grade tea, rather we focus on first crop and quality tea which are picked earlier in the year.) 
  • Cha: Cha means "tea" in Japanese and does not specify specific kind of tea. Therefore you often see "cha" in names of tea. The word is written in Chinese Character in Japan, and the origin of the word is from China where it is also called "cha" in many dialect including Mandarin. Word "Chai" also originate to the same word from China.
  • Fukamushi-cha (Deep Steam Tea): "Fukamushi" translates to "deeper steam" in Japanese. This approach only works well for thicker tea leaves. In order to take advantage of richer nutrients contained in thicker tea leaves, they are steamed for three to four times longer than regular Sencha green tea. All of our green tea are of this type. On contrast, when the tea is lightly steamed, it is referred as Asamushi-cha.
  • Ichiban-cha (First Crop Tea): In Japan, green teas are categorized as first, second and third based on when the tea is being harvested. First harvest of the season is called Ichiban-cha. This is also called "New Crop" (or Shin-cha). Since it is the first harvest, this is refereed as "syun" or seasonable. (Japanese culture value the concept of "syun" (seasonable), and example of it is famous haiku where it must use a word of season "syun" in the short poem.) The characteristic of the first harvest is that the tea leaves are still "young" and brings in richer and clearer aroma. It is also called Shin-cha or Shincha.
  • Kabuse-cha (Covered Green Tea): Kabuse-cha translates as "Covered Green Tea" in English. ery few farms are capable of using this methodology. The green tea is covered by special net to block sunlight for few days before new sprout comes out. By purposely blocking sun light for timed few days before new sprout comes out, the tea creates very unique aroma and taste.
  • MachaWhen green tea leaves are powdered and mixed into hot water, it is called Macha. Macha is sub-category of Ryokucha which has two types: Macha and Sencha. Macha is the form used for the Japanese traditional tea ceremony though most common type of tea consumed in Japan is Sen-cha.
  • Pu-Erh Tea (Microbial fermentation tea): Pu-Erh tea is made by steaming and fermenting freshly cut tea leaves. Traditionally, Pu-Ert tea was consumed by minority ethnics in China, Tibet, Mogolia and other South East Asian regions. The name of Pu-Erh comes from a town called pu-erh in Yunnan district of China where it was stocked for trading. Our Japanese Pu-Erh tea uses quality fresh green tea and go through careful fermentation process.
  • Ryoku-cha (Row Green Tea): Word Ryoku-cha directly translates to "Green Tea" in English, and it is referred as the parent category of all other Japanese Green Tea; row green tea is usually referred as Ryokucha. Ryokucha has two commonly known sub categories: Sen-Cha and Macha.
  • Sen-cha (Green Tea): This is the most commonly consumed green tea in Japan, and when people call "Green Tea", it is mostly referring to this type of tea. Original form of Sen-cha is Ryoku-cha (row green tea); when the row green tea is made into beverage by infusing in hot water, it is called Sen-cha. Japanese style green tea is steamed whereas Chinese style is generally pan heated; Sen-cha refers to the type of tea which is steamed in Japanese style. Above mentioned Kabuse-cha (Covered Tea), Fukamushi-cha (Deep Steam Tea), Ichiban-cha (First Crop Tea) and Aracha (Crude Tea) are all considered sub-type of Sen-cha.
  • Shin-cha: This is another way of saying Ichiban-cha mentioned above. It translates in English as "New Tea".

We have created a diagram to show different categories of tea and how they are related or different from one another.

type of green tea

Steeping Guide

Steeping Guide - Hot

  1. Dissolve 2 teaspoon of powder into 8 Oz of hot water. We recommend about 175°F for most common green tea.

    Please note that our product page has different recommended temperature based on type of tea between 175°F- 185°F; however, 175°F can be the most common and standard temperature that would work for any type of our green tea.

    Steeping guide

  2. Wait for 60-120 seconds  (Please follow steeping guide on the product for specific time based on type of tea.)

  3. Use mesh strainer to filter out the green tea leave and serve hot

Steeping Guide - Cold

  1. Dissolve 3-4 teaspoon of powder into 30 Oz of cold water.  For best result, use filtered water, bottled water. Alternatively, you can boil water and let it cool down until room temperature. 

  2. Keep in refrigerator for 3 hours or more. Key point is to use longer time to dissolve. This way, sweetness increases, and it does not break down theanine and vitamin C.  For best result, let it sit for overnight. 

  3. Stair the water first, then use mesh strainer to filter out the green tea leave and serve cold.