Choosing a Tea in Japan: 8 Most Popular Types

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  • Different from some other cultures, the question “Would you like some tea?” is not that simple in Japan. Besides western tea, Japan has around five basic teas to offer next to three foreign tastes, without counting various variations and differences in-between the basic teas.

    Wherever you go, there are plenty of chances to get tea: in any convenience store they sell cold and in winters even hot tea in plastic bottles, when eating lunch or dinner in a restaurant you will be able to order a nice blend or receive one as a part of service upon arrival. When visiting someone at their home, you will definitely be offered a cup of tea. They might be specific about the tea or just simply say “お茶”, which is a rather wide term. Get to know the various tea types to make and be sure what exactly you are drinking!

    1. Green Tea / Ryoku-cha (緑茶)

    This is probably one of the most basic Japanese teas. It can be served cold or hot and is a healthy choice in comparison to any fizzy drink. The color is greenish and sometimes has a powder like ingredients in it.

    2. Wheat Tea / Mugi-cha (麦茶)

    Mugi-cha is another basic choice in Japan. It is often drunk cold in summer and hot in winter. The color is brownish and it has a slightly “wooden” taste to it.

    3. Hojicha (ほうじ茶)

    hoji-cha

    This is a variation of Japanese green tea. It is a rather modern kind of tea: its special process of making started in Kyoto in the 1920s. The color is brownish too and it has a toasty taste to it.

    4. Brown Rice Tea / Genmai-cha (玄米茶)

    genmai-cha

    This blend of roasted rice with green tea has a very elegant flavour. It has a light green to yellowish color and is sometimes referred to as popcorn tea.

    5. Matcha Tea / Matcha (抹茶)

    matcha

    Matcha is a very traditional type of Japanese green tea. It is used in tea ceremony and real matcha tea is seldom drunk casually. Made of finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea, this powder is popular in many other foods and is added frequently to chocolates, noodles, Japanese wagashi sweets and even ice cream.

    6. Oolong tea / U-ron cha (烏龍茶)

    oolong-cha

    Oolong tea is a popular tea from China, its color is reddish brown.

    7. Jasmine Tea (ジャスミンティー)

    jasmine-tea

    Another popular tea from China with the aroma of the Jasmine blossoms.

    8. Black Tea / Ko-cha (紅茶)

    black-tea

    This is the regular western black tea. Due to its color, the Chinese characters in its name refer to it as “brown tea”.

    Which is your favorite? Next time you go to a restaurant in Japan, try and guess which of the teas you are enjoying!

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