Tea is the one of the most commonly consumed beverages in Japan. You can drink it at any time of the day, regardless of the season. Tea is widely available in restaurants, kiosks, convenience stores, or even in vending machines, hot or cold.
To create the tea, the leaves have to undergo a certain process involving steaming and rolling, and maybe some fermentation of the tea leaves in order to get the right taste, aroma, and colour for the drinks. Three of the more popular teas in Japan, Japanese green tea, black tea, and oolong tea, come from the same leaves, which are actually Japanese green tea leaves.
Japanese green tea is an unfermented tea. This means that after the leaves are picked, the oxidation process of the leaves has to be stopped. Japanese green tea is always served during the Tea Ceremony in Japan. It has a lot of medical benefits such as reducing high blood pressure, lowering blood sugar, slowing down the aging process, promoting fat loss, and fighting cancer.
Black tea is a fermented tea. The tea leaves were left to oxidize, which results in the dark colour of the tea. In the Japanese language, ‘kocha’ actually means ‘red tea’, referring to the reddish-brown colour of the tea. Black tea has a stronger taste compared to less oxidized tea such as green tea and oolong. Due to the long oxidation process, black tea is able to retain its taste for several years. Black tea helps in increasing one’s energy, boosting the immune system, acting as a stress reliever, lowering the risk of strokes, reducing premature wrinkles and restricting bacteria growth that forms cavities and tooth decay.
Oolong tea is a half-fermented tea. The tea leaves are left to oxidize, but not as long as black tea. As it is half-fermented, it takes a skillful person to determine when to stop the oxidation process, in order to get the unique taste of oolong tea. The taste is often described as fruity or floral. Oolong tea is popularly served hot and cold in Japan. It helps to reduce cholesterol levels, revitalize mental alertness, help with digestion, make hair become thicker and shinier, prevent hair loss, slow down the aging process, and prevent osteoporosis.
Who knew that you could get a few types of tea from the same tea leaves before right? Don’t forget to try these teas when you go to Japan!