Did you know that Japan’s longest series of annual holidays—known as ‘Golden Week’—coincides with the country’s first green tea harvest of the year? Talk about double the celebration!
While imported bottled tea reigns supreme in Tokyo and Yokohama (who can resist those cute vending machines), Japan’s unique green tea industry remains small but mighty.
Golden Week starts on April 29 with Showa Day and the first tea harvest also began this month. As such, The Tea Centre feels like now is the perfect time to pay homage to all the pristine green teas Japan has to offer.
Found nowhere else in the world, here’s our list of favourite Japanese teas.
Closely tied with ideas of tradition and Japanese tea ceremony, it makes sense to kick off Golden Week with one of Japan’s most customary brews.
Showa Day marks the beginning of Golden Week in Japan and is a time of reflection where the Japanese peacefully contemplate their past emperor’s reign. The purpose of a Japanese tea ceremony is similarly about gaining inner peace, and brewing matcha is one way to get you there.
Boasting 100 prongs whittled from a single piece of bamboo, our whisk brings out the best froth and flavours from matcha powder. The end result is a clump-free, smooth-tasting matcha every time.
A Japanese tea that looks more golden than green? That’s what makes the unique Japanese hōjicha tea so interesting!
Unlike other Japanese green teas that are typically steamed, hōjicha is roasted over charcoal. This is what gives the tea its golden tint…matching perfectly with Golden Week!
What else makes hōjicha unique other than its method of production, smoky taste, and nutty aroma?
It’s also one of the few teas where the inclusion of twigs is preferable!
Historically, hōjicha is made from the offshoots and remaining leaves of a bancha or kukicha tea batch.
Tea merchants soon found that brewing twigs brought about a toasty flavour that was just as delicious as loose leaves.
As such, this brew contains many twigs and is the perfect tea for sippers who don’t enjoy a grassy green tea.
Between Golden Week’s Constitution Day (May 3) and Children’s Day (May 5) is Greenery Day (May 4). Taking inspiration from the Showa emperor’s love of nature, this holiday is about celebrating the environment and all that it grows.
Therefore, what better way to celebrate than with one of the greenest green teas to come from Japan? Of course, we’re talking about the premium Gyokuro tea!
Sipping on any Japanese tea would be a fantastic way to celebrate Greenery Day. However, Gyokuro, as Japan’s most luxurious green tea, is THE perfect choice. What makes this tea decadent is its laborious production process.
Part of Japan’s mid-April spring harvest, Gyokuro’s production process actually begins twenty days beforehand. At this time, farmers cover the precious tea plant with bamboo and fibre mats. This halts the photosynthesis process, which gives the final tea leaf its unique dark green hue.
The shading also influences flavour. Specifically, Gyokuro’s less bitter taste and sweet flavour is the reason why the expensive tea is reserved for special occasions only. A relaxing Greenery Day afternoon tea sounds like the perfect occasion to us!
Finally, what’s a list of Japanese teas without sencha? Specifically, Shimizu sencha is our most premium sencha tea. Not only is this organic green tea part of a spring harvest flush, but it’s also handpicked by artisan farmers and irrigated by the run-off water from Mt. Fuji itself!
Grown in Shizuoka, the natural minerals in the spring water are thought to be the catalyst for the final tea’s brisk aroma and fresh astringent taste. In fact, this green tea’s name—Shimizu—literally means ‘pure water’ in Japanese.
Also, did you know that the Shizuoka prefecture is responsible for 40% of the country’s green tea production? It’s for good reason too! The region’s elevated terrain, nutrient-rich soil, and proximity to the crystal clear freshwater lakes of Mt. Fuji, Shizuoka is known to be home to many of Japan’s best tasting green teas.
With these brews in your hand, every week is set to look golden! Explore The Tea Centre’s entire range of refreshing green teas here.