Tea 201 - Chinese vs Japanese Green Teas

In the beginning there was a plant.  A green plant. Well…Green tea.   Grown in either Japan or China, this plant is harvested the same way but when it comes to the processing, there are differences:

Chinese – these green teas are mainly roasted or oven dried or sometimes steamed.  Other times the methods are combined.  Some examples are Biluochen (roasted then oven), Zhuyeqing (all three methods) or Houkui (simply ovened).

Japanese – is mainly steamed because it allows the tea to maintain its bright green color and more attractive.  There are sometimes that the tea is pan-roasted.

There are also a lot of varieties in the Chinese green teas.  There are about nine different shapes like loose balls (Dragon Pearls), tight balls (Gunpowder), or gently curled (White Monkey Paw).  There are those with flowers and fruits and others have jasmine.  It is also said that Chinese teas are more likely to be hand-processed instead of made in a factory; however that is only speculation.

Japanese green teas only come in two varieties: needles shaped pieces (Sencha and Gyokuro) and powder (Matcha).   There is also a type of green tea (Sencha) that is mixed with roasted rice that is quite popular in Japan.  It is called Genmaicha.  It is said that it goes quite well with stir-fried foods.

There is also the geographic variety between the teas.  In China, green teas are grown in 15 different provinces while Japan is not big enough to have 15 different provinces.

Who would have thought that there would be such a difference in green teas?  Here’s a challenge: the next time you go to buy green tea, try to found out its origin.  Is it Chinese?  Is it Japanese? Then consider and compare the flavors, do you notice a difference?

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