All Japanese green tea is the same kind of tea. The
differences are a matter of grade and additives. Japan's tea-making
style is similar to that during China's Tang dynasty, when the Buddhist
monk Eisai brought tea from China to Japan. The fresh-picked leaves are
steamed thoroughly before drying, rather than withered before drying.
The steaming makes the tea leaves immune to oxidation. Then the leaves
are dried and rolled into shape. Heat is further applied during that
Japanese teas include: bancha, Genmaicha (tea with popped and roasted rice), hojicha (roasted tea), kukicha (twig tea), sencha, gyokuro, and matcha.
The difference is what grade of leaf that you use to
create the tea. Bancha uses the largest leaves and so has a
less-refined flavor. Sencha is crafted from the smaller leaves, which
have a more refined taste. Gyokuro is sencha grown in the shade and
thus the most subtle in flavor (reflected in the prices it commands).
Matcha is powdered gyokuro whisked into water. It is what is used in
the Japanese tea ceremony.
Uji, Japan, just south of Kyoto, is the most famous
tea-growing region in Japan. Most of the finest teas come from this
region even though it produces on 4 percent of Japan's tea.
In its bright green, unoxidized state, Japanese tea
retains the natural bitterness of raw leaf. For this reason sencha
needs to be steeped at a lower temperature than other green teas. Use
water at 165 F to prevent the resulting brew from being overly