How to Prepare All Japanese Green Tea Types Like a Tea Sommelier

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Billie Modified: February 27, 2024
How to Prepare All Japanese Green Tea Types Like a Tea Sommelier

Want to learn how to make the perfect cup of tea? The Tea masters at Nio Teas are here to help! In this article, their tea heads specialists are going to be breaking down the different types of teas and how you can prepare them.

Let’s get started!

Different Types of Tea

There are two different types of green tea, loose leaf tea and matcha. Each tea type requires different tools, techniques and brewing parameters, so let’s start out with a brief introduction.

Loose leaf Tea

This is likely the type of green tea you are already familiar with. It looks just like dried leaves, but within those leaves there is an explosion of flavor just waiting to be released! Some common ones include sencha, hojicha and genmaicha.

You just need to brew the tea leaves in a kyusu teapot which will allow them to expand and release their flavor into the water.

The teapot will also automatically filter out the leaves as you pour so they don’t end up in your cup!

Matcha

Matcha is a type of powdered green tea. It’s made from the same tea leaves, but it is carefully ground into a fine powder in a large stone mill. It requires more utensils than leaf tea to prepare, but luckily you can get a matcha kit which includes everything you need.

Rather than being prepared in a teapot, matcha is made in a chawan or tea bowl and whisked directly into water using a bamboo tea whisk.

Leaf to Water Ratio

When it comes to preparing green tea, the first thing you’ll want to figure out is how much leaf (or powder) you are going to use, and how much water. It’s best to use a weight measurement in grams rather than a measuring spoon, because all teas have different densities.

Leaf Teas

When you are preparing loose leaf teas, it’s best to use 5 grams of leaves and 150ml of water. As mentioned before, it’s best to go based on weight, but if you don’t have a scale you can use a tablespoon of leaves as a rough measure.

For water, you can use 150ml of filtered water for the 5 grams of tea leaves.

Matcha

If you are preparing matcha, you don’t need to use as much powder because the flavor is very concentrated. Just use 2 grams of matcha, or about 1 teaspoon

You can use 100ml of filtered water with the matcha powder. In the next section, we’ll talk about the best temperature for each type of tea.

Temperature

Temperature is more important than you might think, as it determines what is extracted from the tea leaf. It’s almost like following a recipe and deciding which ratio of ingredients are included in the final drink. If the temperature is too hot, the tea will become bitter.

If the temperature is too cold, it will lack complexity or intensity.

140 degrees Fahrenheit

This lower temperature works well for gyokuro, a premium Japanese green tea. It is meant to be a celebration of these sweet and savory flavors which are best extracted at a slightly cooler temperature.

If you brew it too hot, the sweet and savory flavors of the tea will have to compete with a slight bitterness.

160 degrees Fahrenheit

This is the temperature that works best for most types of green tea from Japan. Sencha, matcha and kamairicha are examples of teas that work well at this temperature. Here, you want to extract a little bit of the grassy or slightly bitter flavors from the leaf, but not too much.

175+ Degrees Fahrenheit

A temperature of around 175 degrees works well for certain teas that can stand up to higher temperatures. This includes teas like bancha, hojicha, kukicha and genmaicha.

These teas tend to be made from the older leaves and stems of the tea plant, and they are less sensitive to temperatures. These can actually be good teas to start with because they are easier to prepare.

Brewing Time

This is something that applies only to leaf teas, but depending on the type of leaf tea, you may want to use a different brewing time. Let’s go through the 3 different brewing times and which teas they work best for.

45 seconds

This shorter brewing time is perfect for Fukamushi sencha or deep steamed tea. This tea has smaller leaf particles that have more surface area, allowing them to brew very quickly.

1 Minute

This is the standard brewing time for green tea in Japan. This should work well for most types of sencha, hojicha, kukicha, genmaicha, bancha and kamairicha. 1 minute gives the leaves enough time to open up and fully release their flavor into the water.

2 Minutes

This longer brewing time is good for Gyokuro. Because the leaves are tightly rolled into these needle shapes, they need an extra minute to open up. Because this tea is prepared at a lower temperature, it won’t become too bitter even with this longer brewing time

20 seconds – for the 2nd Steeping

After the leaves have been brewed, you can reinfuse them with the same temperature water for a brewing time of 20 seconds. The leaves are already opened up so 20 seconds is all it takes to release more flavor from them.

How to Prepare Leaf Tea

Now that we’ve gone over the basic parameters for each tea type, let’s learn how to prepare it! If you are using leaf tea, you will follow the following procedure:

Step 1: Heating the Water

Pour some filtered water into an electric kettle and heat it up to the desired temperature.

Step 2: Adding the Leaves

Add in 5 grams of tea leaves to the bottom of the teapot.

Step 3: Pouring in the Water

Once the water has been heated, gently pour 150ml into the teapot

Step 4: Letting the Tea Brew

Allow the tea brew for between 45 seconds and 2 minutes, depending on the type you are preparing.

Step 5: Pouring out the Tea

Once the brewing time is up, it is time to pour out your tea! The teapot should have a built-in strainer which will separate out the leaves as you pour and also stop the tea from brewing further.

How to Prepare Matcha

If you want to prepare matcha, you may have to use different tools, but it is just as simple. Just follow these 5 steps and you should have a beautiful bowl of matcha tea.

Step 1: Heating the water

Heat up some filtered water to a temperature of about 160 degrees Fahrenheit

Step 2: Sifting the Matcha

Position a metal sifter on top of the tea bowl and sift 2 grams of powder into the bowl. This will help remove the clumps from the matcha and lead to a smoother tea.

Step 3: Adding the Water

Once the water has been heated, pour in 100ml. One trick you can use is start by pouring in a small amount of water in order to blend the matcha into a smooth paste. This will make it even less likely that you get clumps in your matcha.

Step 4: Combining the Matcha

Once all the water has been poured in, gently scrape off the sides of the bowl so that all the matcha is combined into the water.

Step 5: Whisking the Matcha

Now comes the fun part! Take your bamboo tea whisk and start to whisk the matcha and the water together. By whisking the tea in rapid, zigzag motions using your wrist, you should be able to create a light layer of foam on top.

This foam is not just for looks, it also gives the matcha a smoother and airier texture, almost like a latte. Once you have it, you are ready to go!

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