IFAQ

InFrequently Asked Questions
Our original FAQ section contained questions that we heard many times in our seminars, presentations, and tastings. As the tea knowledge of our customers grows, we receive many specific questions about green tea through this website. These do not quite fall into the category of FAQ, but we wanted to share some of them with you so you can see the questions our customers are asking. Consequently, this section contains both Infrequently and Frequently Asked Questions, IFAQ. We divided the questions into five categories so you can select topics of a broad interest or a specific product.




General Questions

Q: Most tea merchants say they have the freshest tea, what does Den's Tea do to insure freshness?
A: All teas offered by Den's Tea are grown in the most prestigious growing regions of Shizuoka prefecture. They are processed and packaged by Shirakata Denshiro Shoten, Inc, our parent company, and shipped directly to California. Additionally, once in California, all Den's Tea teas are immediately placed in chilled storage. This greatly enhances the freshness of the tea.


Q: Where are your teas grown?
A: See "About Den's Tea"


Q: What are the main differences between Japanese green teas and green teas from other countries like China?
A: After picking, green tea is processed to stop the oxidizing process of the enzymes in the tea leafs. In Japan, the oxidation is stopped using a steaming process while other green teas use a pan-parching method. The different processes greatly affect the flavor of the tea. One can imagine the difference in taste between boiled spinach and stir-fried spinach.


Q: What is Shincha?
A: "Shin" means new, and "Cha" means tea. Shincha, often called the first flush tea, is made from the tea picked during the first harvest in the spring. See "Types of Japanese Tea"


Q: When do you start to sell Shincha, first flush teas?
A: New tea buds start to bloom (or flush) in late April as the weather warms in Shizuoka prefecture. Our parent company, Shirakata Denshiro Shoten, starts to sell Shincha once the newly harvested tea has been processed, as early as 3 to 4 days after harvesting. Each year Den's Tea makes several special Shinchas available as soon as possible, usually early in May. These special Shinchas are available for a limited time. The shincha crop that is not used immediately goes into cold storage to maintain its freshness. It is then used to produce tea throughout the year. For our normal inventory rotation, the new shincha begins to appear in our regular products about July or August. For a special tea treat, be sure to watch for our special shincha offerings in the spring.


Q: When talking about Matcha, what does "Koicha" or "Usucha" mean?
There are two ways to prepare and drink Matcha - Koi-cha and Usu-cha. Koi-cha is usually translated as thick tea and Usu-cha as light (or thin) tea. For an equal quantity of hot water, twice as much Matcha is used in the preparation of Koicha than Usucha. For Koicha, you slowly knead the tea into the water using a chasen (bamboo tea whisk) then whisk a little faster to produce a creamy and thick liquid. To achieve the taste and sweetness appropriate to Koicha you need to use the highest quality Matcha. Making Koicha with anything else will result in a bitter drink. Sometimes the terms Koicha and Usucha are used for the Matcha that is appropriate for each.

Q: I would like to switch from coffee to green tea, where's a good place to start?
A.Replacing your daily cups of coffee with Japanese green tea has many benefits. I suggest trying three green teas in the Houjicha family; Houjicha Gold, Houji Kukcha and Houji Genmaicha. In general, Houjicha is similar to coffee in terms of robust flavor, hearty aroma, and a dark color. It is made from the"coarser"part of the tea plant and roasted after the usual green tea steaming process. This produces full-bodied flavor and darker color than other green teas. Any of the Houjicha teas would be a good morning cup of tea. Additionally, Houjicha has the least caffeine of Japanese green teas so you will be reducing the daily intake of caffeine along with the other health benefits of green tea.

Another alternative to coffee is Mecha. It is made up of the coarse broken leaves left from processing Sencha and the first appearing baby tea buds which contain vital life-force energy. Mecha brews a hearty strong cup, lighter in color than Houjicha but with more astringency. It would be a good alternative to an after dinner espresso.

One of the great aspects of Japanese green tea is that there are many varieties with many different tastes. I suggest having several varieties of green tea on hand; it will make for great tea times.


Q: What is the difference between Matcha and your Powdered Sencha?
There are two differences in these teas. Matcha is made from Tencha. Tencha is grown in the shade for about a month before harvest. This adds sweetness to the tea and gives Matcha its characteristic taste. My powdered tea is made from quality first flush Sencha not Tencha. The second difference is the fineness of the grind. Matcha is ground finer than Powdered Sencha and is intended to be whisked into a frothy liquid as you see in the tea ceremony. Powdered Sencha is designed to release its entire flavor when it is gently mixed with water in a cup or shaken in a water bottle. One common characteristic of both teas is that are made from plants that are grown in a chemical free environment.


Q: What is the best way to brew Den's Tea?

Q: What is the best way to prepare iced green tea?

The "best" brewing method for iced green tea depends somewhat on your situation. There are two methods, hot brewing and cold infusion. I'll describe both methods and their benefits, and then you can choose the best one for you.

For hot brewing, prepare your favorite tea and put double the amount of tea leaves into a pot. Then steep the tea longer than suggested on the package, up to twice as long. Now, this is the important part, once brewed, immediately pour the tea into a container filled with ice. The rapid cooling locks in the aroma. The longer steeping will brew a more flavorful cup so it will stand up to the ice. This method of making iced tea takes only a little longer than making a hot cup of tea so it is a great spur of the moment treat or when a friend stops in for an unexpected visit.

For cold infusing, you can use loose tea or our cold brew tea bags. Cold infusing with loose leaf tea is especially designed for our premium Sencha and Gyokuro tea. Use the same amount of tea leaves and water as directed for hot brewing, but pour cool water into a teapot. Leave it for at least 10 minutes. You will find an incredible flavor waiting for you; a natural sweetness with absolutely no bitterness. Remember, this brewing method should only be used with premium teas such as Sencha Zuiko, Shinryoku or Gyokuro Suimei. For any other type of tea, the hot brewing method should be used for best flavor. Avoid adding ice to this tea as it will dilute the delicate flavor. This method takes a little longer and is only recommended for premium teas. Cold brew tea bags are an easy way to enjoy refreshing iced green tea. Simply put one or two teabags into water as directed on the package. Stir or shake and put it into the refrigerator for few hours or overnight. The tea leaves in our tea bags are specially cut and processed to infuse in cool water and produce a flavorful glass of iced tea. Using cold brew tea bags is easy, but takes the longest so you need to plan ahead to enjoy this refreshing drink.


Q: How should I store my tea?
A: For unopened packages of tea, we recommend that our products be stored in refrigerator or, even better, the freezer. After opening, store your tea in an air tight container in a dark cool cabinet but not the refrigerator. Storing open tea packages in the refrigerator may cause water to condense in the package and the moisture will harm the quality of the tea. Once the package is opened, tea has a shelf life of about three months.

Q. What are tea species?
A: While all tea is made from the same tree, Camellia Sinensis, there are a number of species in this plant family. The major species are the Chinese plant and Assamica. In Japan, 108 species have been registered. Yabukita is widely used, accounting for 80% of Japanese tea production and probably most of the Sencha you have tasted was Yabukita.
Yabukita was found in Shizuoka in 1908 by a planter named Suzuki. He happened to find this new tea species north of a bamboo bush. In Japanese, "bush" is "Yabu" and "north" is "kita", consequently the named "Yabukita".
The other relatively major tea species in Japan are Yutaka-midori, Sayama-kaori, and Kanaya-midori. These are registered species and sometimes the name is used for the product itself. Each species produces a leaf with a different shape, color, and flavor. Yabukita has been popular because it has very good flavor and is resistant to diseases.

Q: What is Tencha?
Japanese Green Tea: What is TenchaA: Tencha is the raw material of Matcha. Tencha is grown in the shade for about a month before harvest. The shading reduces photosynthesis resulting in leaves with a high level of chlorophyll, responsible for Matcha's deep green color, and theanine, the amino acid responsible for its sweet full-bodied flavor. To produce Matcha only the top youngest leaves are used. Once picked, the leaves are steamed, dried, and cut. Unlike Sencha or Gyokuro, Tencha is not rolled or kneaded because it is made for grinding into Matcha powder. Dried leaves are refined to remove the stems and veins leaving only the meat of the leaves. The leaves are ground into Matcha powder using a granite wheel. The stems are used for one of our specialty teas Tencha-Kuki Houjicha.

Tencha is considered to be the highest grade of Japanese green tea and is somewhat expensive due to its intensive labor process. It all seems worthwhile when we see the resilient green color and taste the sweet flavor of Matcha.

Q: What determines the tea price?
A: There are many factors that determine the price. While supply and demand are important, the quality of the tea is also a key. Higher quality tea will have a higher price, but what is the standard of "high quality"? Like wine, the growing area is important. The tea grown in a specific prefecture, area, or even a specific farm known for high quality tea will generally be more expensive.

Another factor is the harvest season. The 1st flush tea is the most expensive as the quality is the best. Also tea picked earlier among the first flush tea is generally more expensive because the younger leaf is considered to be a higher grade. Growing region and harvest time are the first things we ask when we start to taste and negotiate the tea samples in Japan.

Q: Do you have a Japanese black tea or Oolong tea?
A: In Japan 99% of tea production is green tea so there are only a few facilities that produce black tea or Oolong tea. We do not carry black or Oolong tea here in North America, yet.

Q: What area/region does your Gyokuro come from?
A: Our Gyokuro is from Asahina, Shozuoka. There are three major Gyokuro production areas in Japan - Asahina in Shizuoka, Uji in Kyoto, and Yame in Fukuoka. Since our parent company is in Shizuoka, we have a good source of farms for our Gyokuro in Asahina.

Q: What is the taste of astringency? Is it different from bitterness?
A: Astringency is a feeling rather than a taste. It's something you can feel in the body (a feeling in your mouth) of the tea. It is also the "puckering" sensation. In the medical definition, astringency is the tendency to draw together or constrict tissue, to pucker. People confuse the taste of bitterness and astringency. Bitterness is one of four standard tastes - bitter, sweet, sour and salty - that are picked up in the mouth and sent to the brain. (The existence of a fifth taste, Umami, has recently been confirmed.) The bitterness in tea comes from caffeine, and astringency comes from catechin (tannin). The astringency overlays the tastes and adds a weight or thickness to the tastes.

Q: How long will teas stay fresh?
A: To maintain freshness, our 1lb package is vacuumed sealed and our 2 oz package contains an oxygen absorber. Tea will stay fresh in both packages for 9 months prior to opening. It will be even fresher if you keep them in a refrigerator before opening.


Q: What are tea breeds?
A: See "What are tea species?" Tea breeds and tea species are sometimes used interchangeably. We use the terms "tea species."

Q: How is Houjicha roasted? Are any oils used? What type of machine used?
A: Houjicha is made by roasting Bancha. Bancha is produced from the tea leaves at the bottom of the plant. These leaves are bigger and thicker than the leaves we use for Sencha. We do not use any oils to roast any of Japanese tea.

There are two typical ways to roast Bancha each using a roasting machine. One of the machines has a spinning drum. This drum is heated by fire from the bottom to about 150・ degree. We put the Bancha leaves in the spinning heated drum and roast 2 to 3 minutes or until our Tea Master feels it has reached the desired darkness. In the other type of machine, tea leaves are roasted with ceramic sands which are heated to 300・ degree. This way, tea leaves are roasted by radiant heat and leaves become a little fluffier. The sand is sifted out after roasting. Usually bigger leaves are roasted with the sand. Regardless of the machine used, the roasted leaves are cooled to lock in the fresh aroma.

Q: What is Kabuse-cha? Do you carry it?
A: In comparing tea taste, Kabuse-cha fits between Sencha and Gyokuro, though it is still considered Sencha. For Gyokuro, a special covering is built of wood in the tea garden and dried straw or bamboo screening is laid on top to shade the plants. Gyokuro is usually shaded for 3 weeks prior to picking. For Kabuse-cha, a black screen covers each tea plant directly for one to two weeks. Sun shading eliminates some of the astringency in the leaf and imparts more sweetness. Kabuse-cha has a sweeter taste than Sencha, but less than Gyokuro. Traditionally, Shizuoka does not produce much Kabuse; Kyoto or Kyusu produce more. We do not carry Kabuse currently, but we are looking for a good source of this tea.

Q: When I purchase your 1lb bag, can I put 3 to 4 ounces in my tea can (kept in a cool dark place) and store the remainder in the freezer?
A: Yes, you can. This is a good idea especially if you don't think you will finish the 1 lb bag in a month. Be sure to close the bag tightly; use a sturdy bag clip similar to the ones used for snack foods if you have one. Buying a 1 lb bag will not only save you some money on the tea, but several of our 1 lb bags qualify for free shipping.

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Tea Enjoyment

Q: Which tea is the most popular among Den's Tea products?
A: Our biggest sellers for 2005 were Sencha Fukamidori and Genmaicha Extra Green. That!Cs why we put these in our Green Tea Sampler Kit. We have many fine teas with a range of flavor and aroma. We suggest you try several or them and find your own favorites.

Q: Which tea is the best with Sushi? How about with American foods?
A: I recommend Mecha for Sushi. Mecha's slightly stronger flavor is a good match for the vinegar used in sushi rice. Here are some additional suggestions for pairing food and green tea:
Type of food Recommended Tea
Sushi Mecha, Fukamushi Sencha
Tempura, Teriyaki Genmaicha, Houjicha
Sandwich Kukicha, Flavored Sencha
Sweets Matcha, Sencha, Gyokuro
Hamburger, Pizza, Fried Chicken, Tacos Genmaicha, Houjicha

Q: Which tea is good before going to bed?
A: Houjicha, Genmaicha and Bancha have relatively lower caffeine than the other green teas. Both Houjicha and Genmaicha also have an especially nice, relaxing aroma.


Q: Which tea is best for someone just learning about Japanese Green Tea?
A: A good starting point is our Green Tea Sampler Kit. It contains our best selling teas; Sencha Fukamidori and Genmaicha Extra Green and both the Sencha and Genmaicha Teabags. I think most people start by one of our tea bag products, but I encourage everyone to quickly move on to the loose teas and learn to brew a good cup of tea. For more information, see "Types of Japanese Green Tea"

Q:I would like to switch from coffee to green tea, where's a good place to start?

A.Replacing your daily cups of coffee with Japanese green tea has many benefits. I suggest trying three green teas in the Houjicha family; Houjicha Gold, Houji Kukcha and Houji Genmaicha. In general, Houjicha is similar to coffee in terms of robust flavor, hearty aroma, and a dark color. It is made from the"coarser"part of the tea plant and roasted after the usual green tea steaming process. This produces full-bodied flavor and darker color than other green teas. Any of the Houjicha teas would be a good morning cup of tea. Additionally, Houjicha has the least caffeine of Japanese green teas so you will be reducing the daily intake of caffeine along with the other health benefits of green tea.

Another alternative to coffee is Mecha. It is made up of the coarse broken leaves left from processing Sencha and the first appearing baby tea buds which contain vital life-force energy. Mecha brews a hearty strong cup, lighter in color than Houjicha but with more astringency. It would be a good alternative to an after dinner espresso.

One of the great aspects of Japanese green tea is that there are many varieties with many different tastes. I suggest having several varieties of green tea on hand; it will make for great tea times.



Q: How can I find my favorite tea?

As you can imagine this question could generate a very complicated answer. Let's break it down by what you are looking for in a tea.

A1: Here are teas categorized by specific health benefits:
  • Antioxidant-Sencha containing the most catechin and well balanced vitamins.
  • Diet-Sencha containing the most catechin resulting in a faster calorie burn rate.
  • Preventing flu, colds or cavities-Sencha containing the most catechin and vitamin C that is an anti-bacterial and anti-virus agent.
  • Relaxation-Gyokuro, Kukicha, or Matcha which contain high levels of theanine.
A2: Teas categorized by flavor?
  • Fresh bitterness-Sencha, Fukamushi Sencha or Bancha
  • Bitter or strong-Mecha
  • Non-bitter-Gyokuro, Kukicha or Guricha
  • Nutty-Houjicha or Genmaicha
A3: Teas categorized by time of day:
  • Breakfast or snacks-Genmaicha or flavored tea complimenting a bread meal
  • Night or before bed-Houjicha or Genmaicha with lower caffeine

Q:Can you introduce some recipes using Matcha??

A: Here are some recipes.

Cold Matcha Iced Matcha au Lait
Iced Matcha -1 tsp Matcha
-1 oz hot water
-2 oz cold water
- Ice cubes
Iced Matcha au Lait
-1 1/2 tsp Matcha
-1 tbsp sugar
-2 oz hot water
-6 oz cold milk
-Ice cubes
Pour 1 tsp of Matcha and 1 oz hot water into a Matcha cup. Whisk the Matcha with a Chasen (bamboo whisk) until creamy, then pour in the rest of cold water. Whisk well again and add ice cubes.
Mix the Matcha with sugar and add hot water. Whisk with a Chasen until a smooth paste forms, then add cold milk. Stir it well again, add ice cubes and top with whipped cream if you like.
Ice Cream with Matcha Syrup Green Tea Frozen Yoghurt
matcha syrup (4 Servings)
-1 tsp Matcha + 1 tsp hot water
-1 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 tsp cornstarch + 1/2 tsp water
- 4 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
Topping:
Cereals, fresh fruit or mint
green tea frozen yoghurt (4 Servings)
-1 tsp Matcha
-2 1/2 tbsp sugar
-2 cups plain yoghurt
-1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Topping:
cereals, fresh fruit or mint
Boil water with sugar. Mix the cornstarch and water and stir until cornstarch dissolves. Add to the pan and heat until syrup thickens. Mix the matcha and hot water and stir until the paste becomes smooth. Pout into the syrup and mix well. Put toppings and Matcha Syrup over the ice cream. Mix together the Matcha and sugar. Add in the heavy whipping cream. Add yoghurt and mix well. Place in the freezer, occasionally mixing well to smooth the mixture. Add toppings on frozen yoghurt before serving.
Matcha Crepe
matcha crepe (4 Servings)
-1 tsp Matcha
- 1 cup Flour
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 1 1/2 cup Milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp Melted Butter
- Whipped cream Fruit
Sift together the flour and the Matcha. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, milk and sugar until blended. Combine the Matcha and flour with the egg mixture. When this is well blended, add vanilla and melted butter, mix well. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes. To cook the crepe, heat the pan and apply a little oil. Add a thin layer of the crepe mixture and cook until the bottom is slightly brown. Flip the crepe and cook until edges brown. Wrap your favorite fruit in a crepe, then top with whipped cream and Matcha syrup (introduced in 天anilla Ice Cream with Matcha Syrup・.
Matcha Soda
Iced Matcha -1 tsp Matcha + 1 tsp hot water
- 24 oz plain soda
Mix Matcha and hot water. Put ice and soda into a glass, add the Matcha water and stir gently.

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Health & Safety Related Questions

Q: What are the health benefits of Japanese Green Tea?


Q: Are the health benefits of Japanese green tea different from other green teas?
A: The healthful contents of all tea are similar; however the extractions of those contents into the liquid tea vary depending on the type of tea. Japanese green teas are made by steaming, kneading and rolling the tea leafs. This breaks down the fibers in the leaf allowing for faster and more complete extraction of the healthy components of the tea.


Q: Is it true that tea contains more caffeine than coffee?
A: Yes, this is true. Dry tea leafs contain more caffeine than dry coffee beans. However, one pound of dry tea leaf makes about 200 cups of tea but one pound of dry coffee beans makes only about 50 cups of coffee. This means that, on a liquid basis, coffee contains more caffeine than tea.


Q: How much caffeine is in green tea.
A: Here is a general comparison of the caffeine content of the brewed liquid for several teas and coffee:
Type CAFFEINE(per 100ml liquid)
SENCHA 15-25mg
GENMAICHA 5-15mg
HOUJICHA 5-15mg
OOLONG 15-25mg
BLACK TEA 25-50mg
COFFEE 35-50mg

The caffeine content will, of course, vary depending on brewing method, brewing time, product quality and even the area where the product was grown. As an added note, research shows, that unlike coffee, Japanese green teas, especially premium teas like Sencha and Gyokuro, also have a substantial amount of theanine (amino acid). Theanine counteracts the stimulatory effects of caffeine and promotes relaxation.


Q: Can just the aroma of freshly brewed green tea induce relaxation?

While we know that green tea is rich in theanine (an amino acid) which increases the alpha-wave production in the brain resulting in a relaxed state of mind, I also know people who report being relaxed just by the aroma of tea.

One of the components of the aroma in green tea is Aoba alcohol (xylopyranosyl-(1-6) glucopyranoside). Aoba means green leaves and we suspect it eases stress and stimulates the circulation of blood. By breathing in the aroma of tea, the olfactory receptors would transport it to the brain very quickly and this could result in a sense of relaxation.

However, I also know that the hard science defining the health benefits of aromas is still being developed. So here is another possible explanation. Our sense of smell is highly developed and aromas are very powerful in invoking memories, both pleasant and not so pleasant. Taking time for tea relaxes all of us and the aroma of tea is a signal that it's tea time. By conditioning, we may start to relax just by inhaling the freshly brewed tea.

Some day we may understand all the benefits of green tea, including its aroma. Until then, let's all take time to relax and enjoy our tea break.


Q: Does green tea prolong life?
There are many claims about the health benefits of green tea; some are based on fact and scientific study and unfortunately some are speculation. Here's what we know. Green tea contains a variety of well balanced functional substances. Some of the most familiar are antioxidants and vitamins. Antioxidants help purge the system of active oxygen which oxidizes the protective oils around the cells in our body. Vitamins have proven benefits in preventing diseases. More information on both of these can be found on our website. See Health Benefits of Green Tea.

There is more promise about the health benefits of green tea in a recent study in Japan. This 11 year study of more than 40,000 men and women has found that those who drink about a pint of green tea a day live longer. The study which was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association was conducted in northeastern Japan, a region where 80 percent of the population drinks green tea and more than half drink three or more cups daily. The lower overall death rate among green tea drinkers appears to be due to a lower risk of death from heart disease. The study was conducted by a medical team from Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan and while more study is necessary, it shows that there is a link between green tea and lower death risk from heart disease.


Q: Does powdered green tea have more health benefits than loose leaf green tea?
In a word, yes. In the early history of tea, the leaves were chewed for their health benefits. Today, we receive the health benefits of loose leaf green tea by drinking the tea infused liquid. Brewed green tea is a very healthful drink but since we don't consume the leaf, we miss out on two additional benefits, Vitamin E and fiber. When you brew green tea, you extract most of the healthy ingredients. However, only a very small amount of the Vitamin E and fiber in green tea is extracted in the brewing process. Powdered teas such as Matcha and our Powdered Sencha are ground to a specific size and stay suspended in the liquid. As you drink either of these teas, you also consume the ground leaves getting all of the Vitamin E and the fiber that the tea plant has to offer. It's important to note that since you are consuming the leaf, be sure to select only powdered teas that are made from chemical free tea leaves.


Q: Are organic products just healthy for your body?
The obvious benefit of organic foods is that they do not contain the chemical products used in conventional farming. This is certainly healthier for the consumer, but another benefit of is that it is also good for the land!

Organic agriculture is a safe, sustainable farming system, producing healthy crops without damage to the environment. It avoids the use of artificial chemical fertilizers and pesticides on the land, relying instead on developing a healthy, fertile soil and growing a mixture of crops. In this way, the farm remains biologically balanced, with a wide variety of beneficial insects and other wildlife to act as natural predators for crop pests. The soil also becomes full of micro-organisms and earthworms which help to maintain its vitality. Organic products grown in healthier soil contain higher levels of nutrients, and generally taste better than their conventional counterparts.

Since tea is processed after it is picked, the processing facility must also be certified organic to maintain the integrity of the organic tea. The processing facility must be free of chemicals and pesticides. Our parent company, Shirakata Denshiro Shoten, developed an organic sanitizing and cleaning program which controlled insects to the required level and met the requirements for an organic certificate. The organic tea we offer is organic from start to finish and we believe it is another step in supporting your health and the health of the earth's environment.

Q: So, which of your product is the best for dieting?
A: As mentioned in "GREEN TEA & HEALTH - Tea & Diet", catechins are a powerful substance for dieting. The tea containing the most catechin is Sencha. But there is a little more to the answer than just Sencha. There is a type of Sencha which is the best among the best when it comes to dieting, powdered Sencha.

When you brew green tea, you extract most of the healthy compounds and the liquid tea is a very healthful drink. However, not all of the compounds are completely infused into the liquid. For example, Vitamin E and fiber are extracted in only small amounts. If you were to consume the entire leaf you would realize even more health benefits. I guess you could chew the tea leaves after you've brewed a cup of tea, but there is an easier way.

Our powdered Sencha is ground to a specific size and is designed to stay suspended in the liquid. Therefore, by drinking powdered tea, you can consume all the catechins in the green tea efficiently. Another benefit from using powdered tea is you take in the fiber contained of the tea leaf. As you know, fiber is important for regularity and you don't want to miss this in your diet. So the complete answer to your question is Powdered Sencha.

Please note that green tea helps your dieting, but drinking tea is only one part of any weight loss program. See "GREEN TEA & HEALTH - Tea & Diet".

Q: Which tea is healthier, Japanese green tea or Chinese green tea?
A: Unfortunately, there are so many variables that the answer is not straightforward, but here are some of the differences between the teas.

Japanese tea is made with a steaming process and is rolled and kneaded after steaming. Chinese tea is made using a roasting method. It is roasted early in the production process to stop the oxidation of tea leaves. The different procedures obviously bring out different flavors and aroma, but do they also affect the health benefits?

The amount of the healthy components (catechin, vitamins and amino acid) in dry tea leaves is almost same whether it's Japanese tea or Chinese tea. However, after you brew the tea, the amount of the components extracted in the liquid is different. The liquid in Japanese tea has more catechins than Chinese tea. This is because Japanese tea is rolled and kneaded after steaming. This process breaks down the fibers resulting in better extraction of the healthy components. So it would seem that Japanese tea is healthier than Chinese tea. However, there is more to the issue. There are so many variables in the brewing process that we cannot answer the question directly. For example, we generally brew only 2 cups with the same Japanese leaf tea but you can brew about 5 cups with Chinese tea. Consequently, with all the variables, we never know how much of any substances we will be consuming.

Q: Which tea has the most antioxidants?
A: Among Japanese green teas, Sencha has the most antioxidants. Sencha has a well balanced content of catechins and vitamins C & E. Most people pay attention to these as an antioxidant source. Further Sencha contains theanine (amino acid) which promotes relaxation. So I recommend Sencha for the most antioxidants and the overall best health benefits.

Q: Is Green Tea healthier than the other teas?
A: The main reason that green tea is seen as the leader in health benefits is that more research has been done on the components of green tea than black tea.
Catechin and theanine are available as industrial products and have been produced in Japan for some time. Consequently, it became easy to experiment with these compounds. More research produces more evidence and generates more public awareness. So we have more hard evidence for green tea and it is generally considered that green tea is the symbol of healthy tea.

Q: Are your organic tea products from tea farm(s) certified under the National Organic Program (NOP)?
A: Yes, our organic teas are certified by NOP. There are many organic tea fields; however it is rare for a tea farm to have a USDA organic certification in Japan. Also our parent company Shirakata Denshiro Shoten, inc. has acquired a certificate for the factory and facility where they are allowed to process USDA organic teas.

Q: Does your powdered Sencha contain all the health benefits of Matcha (e.g., phytonutrients, amino acids, anti-oxidants, etc.)?
A: Matcha is made of Tencha which contains high amount of theanine (amino acid). On the other hand, Sencha contains more anti-oxidants (catechin and Vitamin C) than Matcha. Our powdered Sencha has well balanced natural healthy contents and you will also enjoy the taste!

Q: Do you, in any way, use genetically modified products?
A: No. There are no GMO in the Japanese tea industry.

Q: How is the non-organic tea grown? Do you use many pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, etc?
A: While our non-organic tea is not grown and processed to organic standards, they are very safe and carefully grown within the strict standard of pesticide guidelines in Japan. Also we use mostly 1st flush teas in our products. This harvest is an early spring harvest and the weather is rather cool. Consequently, there are very few harmful insects and diseases and little or no need for pesticides. Additionally, we often submit our teas to the lab to check pesticide residue and to confirm their safety. We are confident of the safety of our teas even those without an organic certificate.

Q: Are all of your tea pots 'lead free'?
A: Yes. No lead is contained in the clay used for our teapots.


Does the green tea have caffeine? I am pregnant and worried about caffeine intake.
A: Yes, green tea has caffeine. (See Q: How much caffeine is in green tea?) The research says that pregnant women are advised to consume caffeine in moderation as they should with other food and beverages. The general guidelines are to limit their daily intake of caffeine to no more than 300 mg/day. In very simple terms this equates to about 16 oz of coffee or 32 oz of tea. So it looks like you can drink a few cups of coffee or more cups of teas. There are many variables which impact your tolerance to caffeine and you may want to ask your doctor's advice about your specific situation.

Why does green tea have a higher antioxidant level than other teas?
A: All the raw tea leaves, as long as they are made from the Camellia Sinensis plant, have a powerful antioxidant known as catechin. Shortly after the tea leaf is picked, it begins the natural process of fermentation or oxidation. Green tea is steamed to stop the fermentation process and green tea is often referred to as unfermented tea. If the tea leaf is allowed to fully ferment, it becomes black tea. This fermentation process gives each tea their distinct color, aroma and taste. Besides affecting color and aroma, fermentation also impacts the health benefits of tea. During the production of black tea, the fermentation process changes the catechins to theaflavin.

Theaflavin is also an antioxidant, but we know more about catechin since more research has been done on it. Catechins are available as industrial products and have been produced in Japan for some time. Consequently, it is easy to experiment with these compounds. More research produces more evidence and generates more public awareness. Also green tea contains Vitamin C; black tea does not. There tends to be higher level of other vitamins in green tea, too, and some of them are also antioxidants. This may be another reason why green tea is considered a high antioxidant tea. Since we have more hard evidence about green tea, it is generally considered that green tea is the symbol of a healthy tea.

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Brewing Related Questions

Q: How many servings are in the 2oz/56g package, assuming 1 teaspoon of tea for a single serving cup of tea?
A: 1 teaspoon is 2 grams. So you can have 28 cups of a single serving. Usually you can brew a second flavorful cup of tea from the one teaspoon. Using 2 grams is general rule and you may use more or less depending on your flavor preferences.

Q: Your brewing guide suggests 2-3 oz of water and 1.5 teaspoons of tea for premium Sencha Zuiko. Isn't that too little water?
A: "2-3 oz" is very little water, but it means that this tea can be enjoyed as a very strong cup of tea. Since Sencha Zuiko or any high quality Sencha and Gyokuro contain a lot of theanine (amino acid), the cup will be very sweet with little bitterness if you brew it at a lower water temperature, about 160 degrees. Regular Senchas will not have such a sweet taste when brewed this way. The suggested brewing parameters will allow you to experience the exceptional flavor that you can get only from this tea. Of course, this is a suggestion and you can adjust the amount of water to suit your taste.

Q: How long should a tea bag stay in hot water before removing? I have been leaving the bag in the cup until I finished the tea and a friend told me that I shouldn't be leaving the bag in that long.
A: Our tea bag brewing instructions suggests "30 seconds" and that is considered general rule for green tea. However, there is no hard and fast rule; it's personal preference. Den actually leaves the bag until he finishes the cup exactly like you. It is simply because he likes a strong cup of tea. It takes longer to get the tea strong enough for him with the hard water in the US than soft water in Japan. Please enjoy however it tastes the best for you.

Q: Can cold brew iced tea be brewed with hot water in a teapot? Will this affect the taste or flavor?
A: You can brew cold brew iced tea with hot water. It is not a problem and actually it is very good because the tea leaf used for cold brew is very high quality and designed to infuse quickly.

Q: What about subsequent infusions for Sencha and Gyokuro?
A: We recommend 180-195 degrees and 15 seconds for Sencha and 160-175 degrees and 30 seconds for Gyokuro. The higher water temperature makes a cup slightly more bitter or fresher. Please adjust temperature and time to your preferred taste.

Q: How many infusions can one expect?
A: We usually advise up to 2 infusions and Den usually follows the guideline. You can go beyond two, but of course, the tea will get weaker.


Q: What is the best way to brew Den's Tea?

Q: What is the best way to prepare iced green tea?

A: The "best" brewing method for iced green tea depends somewhat on your situation. There are two methods, hot brewing and cold infusion. I'll describe both methods and their benefits, and then you can choose the best one for you.

For hot brewing, prepare your favorite tea and use 50% more tea leaves than recommended in the Brewing Parameters. Steep as directed for hot tea. Now, this is the important part, once brewed, immediately pour the tea into a container filled with ice. The rapid cooling locks in the aroma. The longer steeping will brew a more flavorful cup so it will stand up to the ice. This method of making iced tea takes only a little longer than making a hot cup of tea so it is a great spur of the moment treat or when a friend stops in for an unexpected visit.

For cold infusing, you can use loose tea or our cold brew tea bags. Cold infusing with loose leaf tea is especially designed for our premium Sencha and Gyokuro tea. Use the same amount of tea leaves and water as directed for hot brewing, but pour cool water into a teapot. Leave it for at least 10 minutes. You will find an incredible flavor waiting for you; a natural sweetness with absolutely no bitterness. Remember, this brewing method should only be used with premium teas such as Sencha Zuiko, Shinryoku or Gyokuro Suimei. For any other type of tea, the hot brewing method should be used for best flavor. Avoid adding ice to this tea as it will dilute the delicate flavor. This method takes a little longer and is only recommended for premium teas. Cold brew tea bags are an easy way to enjoy refreshing iced green tea. Simply put one or two teabags into water as directed on the package. Stir or shake and put it into the refrigerator for few hours or overnight. The tea leaves in our tea bags are specially cut and processed to infuse in cool water and produce a flavorful glass of iced tea. Using cold brew tea bags is easy, but takes the longest so you need to plan ahead to enjoy this refreshing drink.



Q: For Matcha blended teas, can I make a second cup or is most of the Matcha gone with the first brewing?
A: As you know Matcha does not dissolve in the brewing water but is in a suspension. You can certainly make a second cup with all of our Matcha Blended teas such as Sencha Extra Green. Your first cup will likely contain more Matcha than the second and consequently will be sweeter. The second cup will have more Sencha flavor and is still a wonderful cup of tea.


Q: What is Umami?
A: In Japan, Umami is considered to be the fifth human taste sense rounding out sweet, sour, salt and bitter. Umami refers to the savoriness of glutamine acid, a type of amino acid found in many protein-heavy foods such as meat, cheese, and broth. It is considered the most influential factor in determining how delicious a food is. It is Umami that lets you "feel" the taste of seaweed when you drink Gyokuro.


Q: Your brewing instruction suggests 120 seconds steeping for Tencha-Kuki Houjicha while other Houjicha is for 30 seconds. Isn't that too long?
A: Tencha-Kuki Houjicha is a hard twig tea. Since it is not rolled or kneaded, fibers are not broken down as they are in other regular leaf teas. Thus it takes longer for the water to extract its unique flavor and aroma. Note that we suggest a 30 second steep time for the second brewing.

Q: How cold should the water be for your cold brew teas?
A: Cold brew tea bags are designed to be used in water that is not heated. You can use water that is anywhere from room temperature to refrigerator temperature. For lower water temperatures, try using a longer infusion time, maybe 2 hours instead of one hour.

Q: What effect does longer steeping times have on caffeine, theanine and catechins?
A: Longer steeping times result in more ingredients being extracted. If you want more healthy ingredients in your cup, you may want to brew a little longer. The important words are a "little longer"; steeping too long will make the tea bitter. Japanese tea is unique in that ingredients are extracted faster than the other teas. This is because it is processed through rolling and kneading which breaks the fibers in the tea leaves. The broken fibers give up their ingredients easily. Generally, 80% of ingredients are extracted in the first cup with our recommended brewing times. Try adding seconds to your brewing time until the tea becomes too bitter for your taste then remove several seconds. At that brewing time you have probably depleted the leaves of their ingredients.

Q: Re: water temperature --- is there any difference is bringing water to a boil and allowing it to cool to the desired temperature or just heating the water to the desired temperature (never letting it go past that temperature to boiling)? One Japanese green tea manufacturer even recommends boiling the water at a full boil for 3-5 minutes before cooling. Does that make any difference rather than taking the water off the boil as soon as it reaches boiling temperature?
A: There are two reasons to bring the water to a boil once then remove from heat.

1. If you are using tap water it may help to deodorize the water.

2. A water molecule has a slightly positive end and a slightly negative end. As a result, a water molecule can interact with other water molecules and form a highly organized network. Each water molecule can form up to four bonds; this is called Hydrogen Bonding. It's a relatively weak bond and is broken when the water is boiled. After boiling, the resulting single water molecules can more easily permeated tea leaves.

Notice I recommended that you boil the water once. Continued boiling removes oxygen from the water, so if you boil the water for several minutes you may find the water a little "flat". Oxygen enhances the flavor of tea as it does in wine. Continued boiling also evaporates the water leaving behind any minerals in the water. This will certainly affect the taste of the brewed tea.
You may see some tea companies in Japan suggest boiling water for 3-5 minutes. This is because they assume the drinker is using tap water and they want to remove any odor completely. (In rural areas, Japanese use more tap water than bottled spring water.) If you use bottled spring water, you just need to boil the water once.

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Den's Tea Products Related Questions

Q: Do you have a retail store or do you only take orders online?
A: We do not have a retail store and most of our products are only available online, though some teabag products are available at Japanese super markets.


Q: Is your premium Sencha teapot made of porcelain or white clay? Is it glazed inside the pot?
A: Our premium Sencha teapot is made of white clay. This teapot is glazed inside and outside. It does not look glossy because a special glaze called "mat glaze" is used.


Q: What is the difference in your Premium Restaurant Matcha and Restaurant Matcha, and are they Koicha or Usucha?
A: Koicha and Usucha are used for the tea ceremony. Both Premium Restaurant and Restaurant Matcha are usually used as an ingredient in beverages and pastries. So we do not call them either Koicha or Usucha. Premium Matcha is richer, brighter green and less bitter than Restaurant Matcha. Our other Matcha, Chiyo-no-shiro, is higher quality than Premium Restaurant Matcha and often used as a practice Matcha for the tea ceremony.


Q: As for the tea gifts, does the tea come packed in storage tins or in the usual foil bag so that it will stay fresh if the tea isn't used for a while?
A: Tea is packed in an aluminum bag with oxygen absorber, so it stays fresh. But that bag is not re-sealable like our regular 2 oz bag.


Q: Is Sencha Zuiko hand picked?
A: Sencha Zuiko is neither hand picked nor machine picked. It is harvested using a process called scissor picking.


Q: Is there any reason to keep the oxygen absorber in the bag once the bag is opened?
A: No. Once the bag is open, the absorber will quickly reach its capacity. You can throw it away upon opening.


Q: Which of your Matchas is Koicha or Usucha?
A: The Koicha at Den's Tea is Matcha Miyabi, and Usucha is Matcha Kaze. As you may know, there are two ways to prepare and drink Matcha - Koi-cha and Usu-cha. Koi-cha is usually translated as thick tea and Usu-cha as light (or thin) tea. For an equal quantity of hot water, twice as much Matcha is used in the preparation of Koicha than Usucha. For Koicha, you slowly knead the tea into the water using a chasen (bamboo tea whisk) then whisk a little faster to produce a creamy and thick liquid. To achieve the taste and sweetness appropriate to Koicha you need to use the highest quality Matcha. Making Koicha with anything else will result in a bitter drink. Sometimes the terms Koicha and Usucha are used for the Matcha that is appropriate for each type of preparation.


Q: Where is Honyama?
A: Honyama holds the distinction of being the oldest tea area recorded in Shizuoka history. The area called "Honyama" is located between the Warashina river and Abe river. Most teas are grown on mountain slopes and the tea leaves are softer and brighter green than leaves grown in the plains area. The shape is beautifully sharp and the brewed tea has a fresh aroma and deep savoryness.


Q: Where is Yame?
A: Yame is on Kyushu Island and is one of the three major Gyokuro production areas. Yame also produces premium Sencha and Matcha and has an ideal climate and good soil for tea production. The fog in the mountain areas naturally softens the sunshine resulting in teas that have a strong natural sweetness and full body.


Q: Where is Makinohara?
A: Makinohara is the biggest tea production city in Shizuoka Prefecture and consequently in Japan. Warm weather and long daylight hours result in leaves that are large and thick but also soft. The tea in Makinohara is generally suitable for Fukamushi-Sencha (deep steamed Sencha) where the deep steaming draws out the body and taste of the tea. Makinohara tea is abundant in both flavor and aroma.



Q: Where is Ogasa?
A: Ogasa is one area in Makinohara city. See where is Makinohara?



Q: Where is Asahina?
A: Asahina is located in Shizuoka Prefecture and is one of the three major Gyokuro production areas in Japan. Throughout history it has received many awards for the tea grown there and Asahina tea is one of teas offered to Emperor.



Q: Where is Uji?
A: Uji is located just outside of Kyoto city in the Kyoto prefecture. It is well known as an important site for the development of the Japanese tea culture. Similar to Shizuoka Prefecture Uji is considered a region which grows high quality Senchas, Gyokuro and Matcha.



Q: Where is Ureshino?
A: Ureshino is located in Saga prefecture on Kyushu Island. In the 15th century, a Chinese potter brought the tea culture to Ureshino. Consequently, tea in Ureshino tea is generally the Chinese pan fired style of tea called "Kamairi-cha". Ureshino also produces a flavorful tea processed with a more traditional Japanese steaming technique. The tea is called "Guricha".




Q: Where is Nishio?
A: Nishio is located in Aichi prefecture. It is the biggest production area of Tencha, (see what is Tencha?) and consequently Matcha. The Matcha made in Nishio is used for a variety of purposes ranging from the formal Tea ceremony to an ingredient in sweets.

Q: Where is Kakegawa?
A: Kakegawa is located in western part of Shizuoka. It has mild weather and long daylight hours and is a prime tea growing area. Most of the tea produced in Kakegawa is Fukmushi (deeply steamed) Sencha and teas from this area have received many awards at Fukamushi Sencha competitions.



Q. How is the tea packed?
tea packedA: There are two types of packages, 2oz and 1 pound. All our 2 oz packages are re-sealable foil bags and include an oxygen absorber to maintain a low level of oxygen in the bag. The bag and the absorber prevent damage from light, moisture, and air and keep the tea fresh until you have consumed all of it. Den's Tea one-pound packages are designed for high volume users and are vacuumed and heat sealed foil bags. This packaging assures that the tea you receive is as fresh as possible.



Q: Some of your teas do not include the year of the harvest in their description. Why is that?
A: For some teas, we want a fairly consistent flavor throughout the year and consequently we do not make a "sudden" introduction of a new harvest. Matcha is a good example of one of these teas. For Matcha, we will add the new harvest to the blend little by little. Sometime in the autumn, Matcha will be all "new" harvest tea. The other teas in this category are Houjicha, Organic Teas, and Flavored Senchas.



Q: (This question was posed to us in May, 2010.) I am curious about the issue of how long tea stays fresh. In the IFAQ it says it will stay fresh for 9 months if unopened, but most of your teas are from the spring of 2009. Wouldn't that mean that they are all passed this date at this point? My main concern is: How does this amount of time affect the tea? Is it less tasty? Does it lose antioxidants? Is it still safe?

A: The date on our packages is 9 months after the tea was processed and packaged not harvested. As you said, most of our teas are produced from the first flush which can be as early as April and as late as June. Once picked, the tea leaves are stored in our chilled warehouse to maintain their freshness. We monitor this storage carefully and consider our teas fresh as long as we manage their quality in our facility. When we process and package some of that tea in September, for example, we will put a "Freshest if used by" date of May. Once we ship the tea, we lose control of how it is stored. Since storage conditions vary in the home, we want to give our customers a general idea of how long they can expect the tea to be fresh and flavorful.

Green tea is manufactured with tea leaves that are not oxidized and its quality and freshness are slightly more fragile than Oolong or black teas. I don't think it loses much of its health benefits during storage; it just loses the fresh flavor. Also I would say it is safe to brew and drink our tea several months after the freshest date.


Q: Do you have any tips for cleaning the kyusu?

A: After you use your Kyusu for a while, tea residues or stains may develop inside the spout. If you see it, try using bleach to clean out the residue. You can clean the screen in the same way. Of course, you need to rinse them thoroughly after using bleach. I also suggest that you let the Kyusu dry completely before using. Letting the teapot sit for a day should eliminate any odor from the bleach.


Q: Do you have a Japanese black tea or Oolong tea?

A: Den's Tea does not currently carry black or Oolong tea. We did offer a sample of Shizuoka Black Tea as a gift during our 10th anniversary celebration in 2010 and we received good comments from several customers. The production of black tea in Japan is very limited and the price is rather high. We are starting to see a slight increase in production and I frequently talk with farmers to see what their plans are for each year's harvest. I hope we can find a stable supply of good quality black tea at a reasonable price so we can introduce a black tea in the near future.


Q: What does "Karigane" mean?

A: "Karigane" is a Japanese term for wild goose. Folklore says that some of these wild geese often hold small branches in their beaks while they fly. They then put them on the water and sit on them. The branches they carry resemble twigs from tea bushes and Kukicha (twig tea) has been called "Karigane" in some areas of Japan.


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General Questions

Q: Most tea merchants say they have the freshest tea, what does Den's Tea do to insure freshness?
A: All teas offered by Den's Tea are grown in the most prestigious growing regions of Shizuoka prefecture. They are processed and packaged by Shirakata Denshiro Shoten, Inc, our parent company, and shipped directly to California. Additionally, once in California, all Den's Tea teas are immediately placed in chilled storage. This greatly enhances the freshness of the tea.


Q: Where are your teas grown?


Q: What are the main differences between Japanese green teas and green teas from other countries like China?
A: After picking, green tea is processed to stop the oxidizing process of the enzymes in the tea leafs. In Japan, the oxidation is stopped using a steaming process while other green teas use a pan-parching method. The different processes greatly affect the flavor of the tea. One can imagine the difference in taste between boiled spinach and stir-fried spinach.


Q: What is Shincha?
A: "Shin" means new, and "Cha" means tea. Shincha, often called the first flush tea, is made from the tea picked during the first harvest in the spring. See "Types of Japanese Tea"


Q: When do you start to sell Shincha, first flush teas?
A: New tea buds start to bloom (or flush) in late April as the weather warms in Shizuoka prefecture. Our parent company, Shirakata Denshiro Shoten, starts to sell Shincha once the newly harvested tea has been processed, as early as 3 to 4 days after harvesting. Each year Den's Tea makes several special Shinchas available as soon as possible, usually early in May. These special Shinchas are available for a limited time. The shincha crop that is not used immediately goes into cold storage to maintain its freshness. It is then used to produce tea throughout the year. For our normal inventory rotation, the new shincha begins to appear in our regular products about July or August. For a special tea treat, be sure to watch for our special shincha offerings in the spring.


Q: When talking about Matcha, what does "Koicha" or "Usucha" mean?
There are two ways to prepare and drink Matcha - Koi-cha and Usu-cha. Koi-cha is usually translated as thick tea and Usu-cha as light (or thin) tea. For an equal quantity of hot water, twice as much Matcha is used in the preparation of Koicha than Usucha. For Koicha, you slowly knead the tea into the water using a chasen (bamboo tea whisk) then whisk a little faster to produce a creamy and thick liquid. To achieve the taste and sweetness appropriate to Koicha you need to use the highest quality Matcha. Making Koicha with anything else will result in a bitter drink. Sometimes the terms Koicha and Usucha are used for the Matcha that is appropriate for each.

Q: I would like to switch from coffee to green tea, where's a good place to start?

A.Replacing your daily cups of coffee with Japanese green tea has many benefits. I suggest trying three green teas in the Houjicha family; Houjicha Gold, Houji Kukcha and Houji Genmaicha. In general, Houjicha is similar to coffee in terms of robust flavor, hearty aroma, and a dark color. It is made from the"coarser"part of the tea plant and roasted after the usual green tea steaming process. This produces full-bodied flavor and darker color than other green teas. Any of the Houjicha teas would be a good morning cup of tea. Additionally, Houjicha has the least caffeine of Japanese green teas so you will be reducing the daily intake of caffeine along with the other health benefits of green tea.

Another alternative to coffee is Mecha. It is made up of the coarse broken leaves left from processing Sencha and the first appearing baby tea buds which contain vital life-force energy. Mecha brews a hearty strong cup, lighter in color than Houjicha but with more astringency. It would be a good alternative to an after dinner espresso.

One of the great aspects of Japanese green tea is that there are many varieties with many different tastes. I suggest having several varieties of green tea on hand; it will make for great tea times.



Q: What is the difference between Matcha and your Powdered Sencha?
There are two differences in these teas. Matcha is made from Tencha. Tencha is grown in the shade for about a month before harvest. This adds sweetness to the tea and gives Matcha its characteristic taste. My powdered tea is made from quality first flush Sencha not Tencha. The second difference is the fineness of the grind. Matcha is ground finer than Powdered Sencha and is intended to be whisked into a frothy liquid as you see in the tea ceremony. Powdered Sencha is designed to release its entire flavor when it is gently mixed with water in a cup or shaken in a water bottle. One common characteristic of both teas is that are made from plants that are grown in a chemical free environment.


Q: What is the best way to brew Den's Tea?

Q: What is the best way to prepare iced green tea?

The "best" brewing method for iced green tea depends somewhat on your situation. There are two methods, hot brewing and cold infusion. I'll describe both methods and their benefits, and then you can choose the best one for you.

For hot brewing, prepare your favorite tea and put double the amount of tea leaves into a pot. Then steep the tea longer than suggested on the package, up to twice as long. Now, this is the important part, once brewed, immediately pour the tea into a container filled with ice. The rapid cooling locks in the aroma. The longer steeping will brew a more flavorful cup so it will stand up to the ice. This method of making iced tea takes only a little longer than making a hot cup of tea so it is a great spur of the moment treat or when a friend stops in for an unexpected visit.

For cold infusing, you can use loose tea or our cold brew tea bags. Cold infusing with loose leaf tea is especially designed for our premium Sencha and Gyokuro tea. Use the same amount of tea leaves and water as directed for hot brewing, but pour cool water into a teapot. Leave it for at least 10 minutes. You will find an incredible flavor waiting for you; a natural sweetness with absolutely no bitterness. Remember, this brewing method should only be used with premium teas such as Sencha Zuiko, Shinryoku or Gyokuro Suimei. For any other type of tea, the hot brewing method should be used for best flavor. Avoid adding ice to this tea as it will dilute the delicate flavor. This method takes a little longer and is only recommended for premium teas. Cold brew tea bags are an easy way to enjoy refreshing iced green tea. Simply put one or two teabags into water as directed on the package. Stir or shake and put it into the refrigerator for few hours or overnight. The tea leaves in our tea bags are specially cut and processed to infuse in cool water and produce a flavorful glass of iced tea. Using cold brew tea bags is easy, but takes the longest so you need to plan ahead to enjoy this refreshing drink.


Q: How should I store my tea?
A: For unopened packages of tea, we recommend that our products be stored in refrigerator or, even better, the freezer. After opening, store your tea in an air tight container in a dark cool cabinet but not the refrigerator. Storing open tea packages in the refrigerator may cause water to condense in the package and the moisture will harm the quality of the tea. Once the package is opened, tea has a shelf life of about three months.

Q. What are tea species?
A: While all tea is made from the same tree, Camellia Sinensis, there are a number of species in this plant family. The major species are the Chinese plant and Assamica. In Japan, 108 species have been registered. Yabukita is widely used, accounting for 80% of Japanese tea production and probably most of the Sencha you have tasted was Yabukita.
Yabukita was found in Shizuoka in 1908 by a planter named Suzuki. He happened to find this new tea species north of a bamboo bush. In Japanese, "bush" is "Yabu" and "north" is "kita", consequently the named "Yabukita".
The other relatively major tea species in Japan are Yutaka-midori, Sayama-kaori, and Kanaya-midori. These are registered species and sometimes the name is used for the product itself. Each species produces a leaf with a different shape, color, and flavor. Yabukita has been popular because it has very good flavor and is resistant to diseases.

Q: What is Tencha?
Japanese Green Tea: What is TenchaA: Tencha is the raw material of Matcha. Tencha is grown in the shade for about a month before harvest. The shading reduces photosynthesis resulting in leaves with a high level of chlorophyll, responsible for Matcha's deep green color, and theanine, the amino acid responsible for its sweet full-bodied flavor. To produce Matcha only the top youngest leaves are used. Once picked, the leaves are steamed, dried, and cut. Unlike Sencha or Gyokuro, Tencha is not rolled or kneaded because it is made for grinding into Matcha powder. Dried leaves are refined to remove the stems and veins leaving only the meat of the leaves. The leaves are ground into Matcha powder using a granite wheel. The stems are used for one of our specialty teas Tencha-Kuki Houjicha.

Tencha is considered to be the highest grade of Japanese green tea and is somewhat expensive due to its intensive labor process. It all seems worthwhile when we see the resilient green color and taste the sweet flavor of Matcha.

Q: What determines the tea price?
A: There are many factors that determine the price. While supply and demand are important, the quality of the tea is also a key. Higher quality tea will have a higher price, but what is the standard of "high quality"? Like wine, the growing area is important. The tea grown in a specific prefecture, area, or even a specific farm known for high quality tea will generally be more expensive.

Another factor is the harvest season. The 1st flush tea is the most expensive as the quality is the best. Also tea picked earlier among the first flush tea is generally more expensive because the younger leaf is considered to be a higher grade. Growing region and harvest time are the first things we ask when we start to taste and negotiate the tea samples in Japan.

Q: Do you have a Japanese black tea or Oolong tea?
A: In Japan 99% of tea production is green tea so there are only a few facilities that produce black tea or Oolong tea. We do not carry black or Oolong tea here in North America, yet.

Q: What area/region does your Gyokuro come from?
A: Our Gyokuro is from Asahina, Shozuoka. There are three major Gyokuro production areas in Japan - Asahina in Shizuoka, Uji in Kyoto, and Yame in Fukuoka. Since our parent company is in Shizuoka, we have a good source of farms for our Gyokuro in Asahina.

Q: What is the taste of astringency? Is it different from bitterness?
A: Astringency is a feeling rather than a taste. It's something you can feel in the body (a feeling in your mouth) of the tea. It is also the "puckering" sensation. In the medical definition, astringency is the tendency to draw together or constrict tissue, to pucker. People confuse the taste of bitterness and astringency. Bitterness is one of four standard tastes - bitter, sweet, sour and salty - that are picked up in the mouth and sent to the brain. (The existence of a fifth taste, Umami, has recently been confirmed.) The bitterness in tea comes from caffeine, and astringency comes from catechin (tannin). The astringency overlays the tastes and adds a weight or thickness to the tastes.

Q: How long will teas stay fresh?
A: To maintain freshness, our 1lb package is vacuumed sealed and our 2 oz package contains an oxygen absorber. Tea will stay fresh in both packages for 9 months prior to opening. It will be even fresher if you keep them in a refrigerator before opening.


Q: What are tea breeds?
A: See "What are tea species?" Tea breeds and tea species are sometimes used interchangeably. We use the terms "tea species."

Q: How is Houjicha roasted? Are any oils used? What type of machine used?
A: Houjicha is made by roasting Bancha. Bancha is produced from the tea leaves at the bottom of the plant. These leaves are bigger and thicker than the leaves we use for Sencha. We do not use any oils to roast any of Japanese tea.

There are two typical ways to roast Bancha each using a roasting machine. One of the machines has a spinning drum. This drum is heated by fire from the bottom to about 150・ degree. We put the Bancha leaves in the spinning heated drum and roast 2 to 3 minutes or until our Tea Master feels it has reached the desired darkness. In the other type of machine, tea leaves are roasted with ceramic sands which are heated to 300・ degree. This way, tea leaves are roasted by radiant heat and leaves become a little fluffier. The sand is sifted out after roasting. Usually bigger leaves are roasted with the sand. Regardless of the machine used, the roasted leaves are cooled to lock in the fresh aroma.

Q: What is Kabuse-cha? Do you carry it?
A: In comparing tea taste, Kabuse-cha fits between Sencha and Gyokuro, though it is still considered Sencha. For Gyokuro, a special covering is built of wood in the tea garden and dried straw or bamboo screening is laid on top to shade the plants. Gyokuro is usually shaded for 3 weeks prior to picking. For Kabuse-cha, a black screen covers each tea plant directly for one to two weeks. Sun shading eliminates some of the astringency in the leaf and imparts more sweetness. Kabuse-cha has a sweeter taste than Sencha, but less than Gyokuro. Traditionally, Shizuoka does not produce much Kabuse; Kyoto or Kyusu produce more. We do not carry Kabuse currently, but we are looking for a good source of this tea.

Q: When I purchase your 1lb bag, can I put 3 to 4 ounces in my tea can (kept in a cool dark place) and store the remainder in the freezer?
A: Yes, you can. This is a good idea especially if you don't think you will finish the 1 lb bag in a month. Be sure to close the bag tightly; use a sturdy bag clip similar to the ones used for snack foods if you have one. Buying a 1 lb bag will not only save you some money on the tea, but several of our 1 lb bags qualify for free shipping.

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Tea Enjoyment

Q: Which tea is the most popular among Den's Tea products?
A: Our biggest sellers for 2005 were Sencha Fukamidori and Genmaicha Extra Green. That!Cs why we put these in our Green Tea Sampler Kit. We have many fine teas with a range of flavor and aroma. We suggest you try several or them and find your own favorites.

Q: Which tea is the best with Sushi? How about with American foods?
A: I recommend Mecha for Sushi. Mecha's slightly stronger flavor is a good match for the vinegar used in sushi rice. Here are some additional suggestions for pairing food and green tea:
Type of food Recommended Tea
Sushi Mecha, Fukamushi Sencha
Tempura, Teriyaki Genmaicha, Houjicha
Sandwich Kukicha, Flavored Sencha
Sweets Matcha, Sencha, Gyokuro
Hamburger, Pizza, Fried Chicken, Tacos Genmaicha, Houjicha

Q: Which tea is good before going to bed?
A: Houjicha, Genmaicha and Bancha have relatively lower caffeine than the other green teas. Both Houjicha and Genmaicha also have an especially nice, relaxing aroma.


Q: Which tea is best for someone just learning about Japanese Green Tea?
A: A good starting point is our Green Tea Sampler Kit. It contains our best selling teas; Sencha Fukamidori and Genmaicha Extra Green and both the Sencha and Genmaicha Teabags. I think most people start by one of our tea bag products, but I encourage everyone to quickly move on to the loose teas and learn to brew a good cup of tea. For more information, see "Types of Japanese Green Tea"

Q:I would like to switch from coffee to green tea, where's a good place to start?

A.Replacing your daily cups of coffee with Japanese green tea has many benefits. I suggest trying three green teas in the Houjicha family; Houjicha Gold, Houji Kukcha and Houji Genmaicha. In general, Houjicha is similar to coffee in terms of robust flavor, hearty aroma, and a dark color. It is made from the"coarser"part of the tea plant and roasted after the usual green tea steaming process. This produces full-bodied flavor and darker color than other green teas. Any of the Houjicha teas would be a good morning cup of tea. Additionally, Houjicha has the least caffeine of Japanese green teas so you will be reducing the daily intake of caffeine along with the other health benefits of green tea.

Another alternative to coffee is Mecha. It is made up of the coarse broken leaves left from processing Sencha and the first appearing baby tea buds which contain vital life-force energy. Mecha brews a hearty strong cup, lighter in color than Houjicha but with more astringency. It would be a good alternative to an after dinner espresso.

One of the great aspects of Japanese green tea is that there are many varieties with many different tastes. I suggest having several varieties of green tea on hand; it will make for great tea times.



Q: How can I find my favorite tea?

As you can imagine this question could generate a very complicated answer. Let's break it down by what you are looking for in a tea.

A1: Here are teas categorized by specific health benefits:
  • Antioxidant-Sencha containing the most catechin and well balanced vitamins.
  • Diet-Sencha containing the most catechin resulting in a faster calorie burn rate.
  • Preventing flu, colds or cavities-Sencha containing the most catechin and vitamin C that is an anti-bacterial and anti-virus agent.
  • Relaxation-Gyokuro, Kukicha, or Matcha which contain high levels of theanine.
A2: Teas categorized by flavor?
  • Fresh bitterness-Sencha, Fukamushi Sencha or Bancha
  • Bitter or strong-Mecha
  • Non-bitter-Gyokuro, Kukicha or Guricha
  • Nutty-Houjicha or Genmaicha
A3: Teas categorized by time of day:
  • Breakfast or snacks-Genmaicha or flavored tea complimenting a bread meal
  • Night or before bed-Houjicha or Genmaicha with lower caffeine

Q:Can you introduce some recipes using Matcha??

A: Here are some recipes.

Cold Matcha Iced Matcha au Lait
Iced Matcha -1 tsp Matcha
-1 oz hot water
-2 oz cold water
- Ice cubes
Iced Matcha au Lait
-1 1/2 tsp Matcha
-1 tbsp sugar
-2 oz hot water
-6 oz cold milk
-Ice cubes
Pour 1 tsp of Matcha and 1 oz hot water into a Matcha cup. Whisk the Matcha with a Chasen (bamboo whisk) until creamy, then pour in the rest of cold water. Whisk well again and add ice cubes.
Mix the Matcha with sugar and add hot water. Whisk with a Chasen until a smooth paste forms, then add cold milk. Stir it well again, add ice cubes and top with whipped cream if you like.
Ice Cream with Matcha Syrup Green Tea Frozen Yoghurt
matcha syrup (4 Servings)
-1 tsp Matcha + 1 tsp hot water
-1 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 tsp cornstarch + 1/2 tsp water
- 4 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
Topping:
Cereals, fresh fruit or mint
green tea frozen yoghurt (4 Servings)
-1 tsp Matcha
-2 1/2 tbsp sugar
-2 cups plain yoghurt
-1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Topping:
cereals, fresh fruit or mint
Boil water with sugar. Mix the cornstarch and water and stir until cornstarch dissolves. Add to the pan and heat until syrup thickens. Mix the matcha and hot water and stir until the paste becomes smooth. Pout into the syrup and mix well. Put toppings and Matcha Syrup over the ice cream. Mix together the Matcha and sugar. Add in the heavy whipping cream. Add yoghurt and mix well. Place in the freezer, occasionally mixing well to smooth the mixture. Add toppings on frozen yoghurt before serving.
Matcha Crepe
matcha crepe (4 Servings)
-1 tsp Matcha
- 1 cup Flour
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 1 1/2 cup Milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp Melted Butter
- Whipped cream Fruit
Sift together the flour and the Matcha. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, milk and sugar until blended. Combine the Matcha and flour with the egg mixture. When this is well blended, add vanilla and melted butter, mix well. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes. To cook the crepe, heat the pan and apply a little oil. Add a thin layer of the crepe mixture and cook until the bottom is slightly brown. Flip the crepe and cook until edges brown. Wrap your favorite fruit in a crepe, then top with whipped cream and Matcha syrup (introduced in vanilla Ice Cream with Matcha Syrup.
Matcha Soda
Iced Matcha -1 tsp Matcha + 1 tsp hot water
- 24 oz plain soda
Mix Matcha and hot water. Put ice and soda into a glass, add the Matcha water and stir gently.

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Health & Safety Related Questions

Q: What are the health benefits of Japanese Green Tea?


Q: Are the health benefits of Japanese green tea different from other green teas?
A: The healthful contents of all tea are similar; however the extractions of those contents into the liquid tea vary depending on the type of tea. Japanese green teas are made by steaming, kneading and rolling the tea leafs. This breaks down the fibers in the leaf allowing for faster and more complete extraction of the healthy components of the tea.


Q: Is it true that tea contains more caffeine than coffee?
A: Yes, this is true. Dry tea leafs contain more caffeine than dry coffee beans. However, one pound of dry tea leaf makes about 200 cups of tea but one pound of dry coffee beans makes only about 50 cups of coffee. This means that, on a liquid basis, coffee contains more caffeine than tea.


Q: How much caffeine is in green tea.
A: Here is a general comparison of the caffeine content of the brewed liquid for several teas and coffee:
Type CAFFEINE(per 100ml liquid)
SENCHA 15-25mg
GENMAICHA 5-15mg
HOUJICHA 5-15mg
OOLONG 15-25mg
BLACK TEA 25-50mg
COFFEE 35-50mg

The caffeine content will, of course, vary depending on brewing method, brewing time, product quality and even the area where the product was grown. As an added note, research shows, that unlike coffee, Japanese green teas, especially premium teas like Sencha and Gyokuro, also have a substantial amount of theanine (amino acid). Theanine counteracts the stimulatory effects of caffeine and promotes relaxation.


Q: Can just the aroma of freshly brewed green tea induce relaxation?

While we know that green tea is rich in theanine (an amino acid) which increases the alpha-wave production in the brain resulting in a relaxed state of mind, I also know people who report being relaxed just by the aroma of tea.

One of the components of the aroma in green tea is Aoba alcohol (xylopyranosyl-(1-6) glucopyranoside). Aoba means green leaves and we suspect it eases stress and stimulates the circulation of blood. By breathing in the aroma of tea, the olfactory receptors would transport it to the brain very quickly and this could result in a sense of relaxation.

However, I also know that the hard science defining the health benefits of aromas is still being developed. So here is another possible explanation. Our sense of smell is highly developed and aromas are very powerful in invoking memories, both pleasant and not so pleasant. Taking time for tea relaxes all of us and the aroma of tea is a signal that it's tea time. By conditioning, we may start to relax just by inhaling the freshly brewed tea.

Some day we may understand all the benefits of green tea, including its aroma. Until then, let's all take time to relax and enjoy our tea break.


Q: Does green tea prolong life?
There are many claims about the health benefits of green tea; some are based on fact and scientific study and unfortunately some are speculation. Here's what we know. Green tea contains a variety of well balanced functional substances. Some of the most familiar are antioxidants and vitamins. Antioxidants help purge the system of active oxygen which oxidizes the protective oils around the cells in our body. Vitamins have proven benefits in preventing diseases. More information on both of these can be found on our website. See Health Benefits of Green Tea.

There is more promise about the health benefits of green tea in a recent study in Japan. This 11 year study of more than 40,000 men and women has found that those who drink about a pint of green tea a day live longer. The study which was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association was conducted in northeastern Japan, a region where 80 percent of the population drinks green tea and more than half drink three or more cups daily. The lower overall death rate among green tea drinkers appears to be due to a lower risk of death from heart disease. The study was conducted by a medical team from Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan and while more study is necessary, it shows that there is a link between green tea and lower death risk from heart disease.


Q: Does powdered green tea have more health benefits than loose leaf green tea?
In a word, yes. In the early history of tea, the leaves were chewed for their health benefits. Today, we receive the health benefits of loose leaf green tea by drinking the tea infused liquid. Brewed green tea is a very healthful drink but since we don't consume the leaf, we miss out on two additional benefits, Vitamin E and fiber. When you brew green tea, you extract most of the healthy ingredients. However, only a very small amount of the Vitamin E and fiber in green tea is extracted in the brewing process. Powdered teas such as Matcha and my Powdered Sencha are ground to a specific size and stay suspended in the liquid. As you drink either of these teas, you also consume the ground leaves getting all of the Vitamin E and the fiber that the tea plant has to offer. It's important to note that since you are consuming the leaf, be sure to select only powdered teas that are made from chemical free tea leaves.


Q: Are organic products just healthy for your body?
The obvious benefit of organic foods is that they do not contain the chemical products used in conventional farming. This is certainly healthier for the consumer, but another benefit of is that it is also good for the land!

Organic agriculture is a safe, sustainable farming system, producing healthy crops without damage to the environment. It avoids the use of artificial chemical fertilizers and pesticides on the land, relying instead on developing a healthy, fertile soil and growing a mixture of crops. In this way, the farm remains biologically balanced, with a wide variety of beneficial insects and other wildlife to act as natural predators for crop pests. The soil also becomes full of micro-organisms and earthworms which help to maintain its vitality. Organic products grown in healthier soil contain higher levels of nutrients, and generally taste better than their conventional counterparts.

Since tea is processed after it is picked, the processing facility must also be certified organic to maintain the integrity of the organic tea. The processing facility must be free of chemicals and pesticides. Our parent company, Shirakata Denshiro Shoten, developed an organic sanitizing and cleaning program which controlled insects to the required level and met the requirements for an organic certificate. The organic tea we offer is organic from start to finish and we believe it is another step in supporting your health and the health of the earth's environment.

Q: So, which of your product is the best for dieting?
A: As mentioned in "GREEN TEA & HEALTH - Tea & Diet", catechins are a powerful substance for dieting. The tea containing the most catechin is Sencha. But there is a little more to the answer than just Sencha. There is a type of Sencha which is the best among the best when it comes to dieting, powdered Sencha.

When you brew green tea, you extract most of the healthy compounds and the liquid tea is a very healthful drink. However, not all of the compounds are completely infused into the liquid. For example, Vitamin E and fiber are extracted in only small amounts. If you were to consume the entire leaf you would realize even more health benefits. I guess you could chew the tea leaves after you've brewed a cup of tea, but there is an easier way.

Our powdered Sencha is ground to a specific size and is designed to stay suspended in the liquid. Therefore, by drinking powdered tea, you can consume all the catechins in the green tea efficiently. Another benefit from using powdered tea is you take in the fiber contained of the tea leaf. As you know, fiber is important for regularity and you don't want to miss this in your diet. So the complete answer to your question is Powdered Sencha.

Please note that green tea helps your dieting, but drinking tea is only one part of any weight loss program. See "GREEN TEA & HEALTH - Tea & Diet".

Q: Which tea is healthier, Japanese green tea or Chinese green tea?
A: Unfortunately, there are so many variables that the answer is not straightforward, but here are some of the differences between the teas.

Japanese tea is made with a steaming process and is rolled and kneaded after steaming. Chinese tea is made using a roasting method. It is roasted early in the production process to stop the oxidation of tea leaves. The different procedures obviously bring out different flavors and aroma, but do they also affect the health benefits?

The amount of the healthy components (catechin, vitamins and amino acid) in dry tea leaves is almost same whether it's Japanese tea or Chinese tea. However, after you brew the tea, the amount of the components extracted in the liquid is different. The liquid in Japanese tea has more catechins than Chinese tea. This is because Japanese tea is rolled and kneaded after steaming. This process breaks down the fibers resulting in better extraction of the healthy components. So it would seem that Japanese tea is healthier than Chinese tea. However, there is more to the issue. There are so many variables in the brewing process that we cannot answer the question directly. For example, we generally brew only 2 cups with the same Japanese leaf tea but you can brew about 5 cups with Chinese tea. Consequently, with all the variables, we never know how much of any substances we will be consuming.

Q: Which tea has the most antioxidants?
A: Among Japanese green teas, Sencha has the most antioxidants. Sencha has a well balanced content of catechins and vitamins C & E. Most people pay attention to these as an antioxidant source. Further Sencha contains theanine (amino acid) which promotes relaxation. So I recommend Sencha for the most antioxidants and the overall best health benefits.

Q: Is Green Tea healthier than the other teas?
A: The main reason that green tea is seen as the leader in health benefits is that more research has been done on the components of green tea than black tea.
Catechin and theanine are available as industrial products and have been produced in Japan for some time. Consequently, it became easy to experiment with these compounds. More research produces more evidence and generates more public awareness. So we have more hard evidence for green tea and it is generally considered that green tea is the symbol of healthy tea.

Q: Are your organic tea products from tea farm(s) certified under the National Organic Program (NOP)?
A: Yes, our organic teas are certified by NOP. There are many organic tea fields; however it is rare for a tea farm to have a USDA organic certification in Japan. Also our parent company Shirakata Denshiro Shoten, inc. has acquired a certificate for the factory and facility where they are allowed to process USDA organic teas.

Q: Does your powdered Sencha contain all the health benefits of Matcha (e.g., phytonutrients, amino acids, anti-oxidants, etc.)?
A: Matcha is made of Tencha which contains high amount of theanine (amino acid). On the other hand, Sencha contains more anti-oxidants (catechin and Vitamin C) than Matcha. Our powdered Sencha has well balanced natural healthy contents and you will also enjoy the taste!

Q: Do you, in any way, use genetically modified products?
A: No. There are no GMO in the Japanese tea industry.

Q: How is the non-organic tea grown? Do you use many pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, etc?
A: While our non-organic tea is not grown and processed to organic standards, they are very safe and carefully grown within the strict standard of pesticide guidelines in Japan. Also we use mostly 1st flush teas in our products. This harvest is an early spring harvest and the weather is rather cool. Consequently, there are very few harmful insects and diseases and little or no need for pesticides. Additionally, we often submit our teas to the lab to check pesticide residue and to confirm their safety. We are confident of the safety of our teas even those without an organic certificate.

Q: Are all of your tea pots 'lead free'?
A: Yes. No lead is contained in the clay used for our teapots.


Does the green tea have caffeine? I am pregnant and worried about caffeine intake?
A: Yes, green tea has caffeine. (See Q: How much caffeine is in green tea?) The research says that pregnant women are advised to consume caffeine in moderation as they should with other food and beverages. The general guidelines are to limit their daily intake of caffeine to no more than 300 mg/day. In very simple terms this equates to about 16 oz of coffee or 32 oz of tea. So it looks like you can drink a few cups of coffee or more cups of teas. There are many variables which impact your tolerance to caffeine and you may want to ask your doctor's advice about your specific situation.

Why does green tea have a higher antioxidant level than other teas?
A: All the raw tea leaves, as long as they are made from the Camellia Sinensis plant, have a powerful antioxidant known as catechin. Shortly after the tea leaf is picked, it begins the natural process of fermentation or oxidation. Green tea is steamed to stop the fermentation process and green tea is often referred to as unfermented tea. If the tea leaf is allowed to fully ferment, it becomes black tea. This fermentation process gives each tea their distinct color, aroma and taste. Besides affecting color and aroma, fermentation also impacts the health benefits of tea. During the production of black tea, the fermentation process changes the catechins to theaflavin.

Theaflavin is also an antioxidant, but we know more about catechin since more research has been done on it. Catechins are available as industrial products and have been produced in Japan for some time. Consequently, it is easy to experiment with these compounds. More research produces more evidence and generates more public awareness. Also green tea contains Vitamin C; black tea does not. There tends to be higher level of other vitamins in green tea, too, and some of them are also antioxidants. This may be another reason why green tea is considered a high antioxidant tea. Since we have more hard evidence about green tea, it is generally considered that green tea is the symbol of a healthy tea.

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Brewing Related Questions

Q: How many servings are in the 2oz/56g package, assuming 1 teaspoon of tea for a single serving cup of tea?
A: 1 teaspoon is 2 grams. So you can have 28 cups of a single serving. Usually you can brew a second flavorful cup of tea from the one teaspoon. Using 2 grams is general rule and you may use more or less depending on your flavor preferences.

Q: Your brewing guide suggests 2-3 oz of water and 1.5 teaspoons of tea for premium Sencha Zuiko. Isn't that too little water?
A: "2-3 oz" is very little water, but it means that this tea can be enjoyed as a very strong cup of tea. Since Sencha Zuiko or any high quality Sencha and Gyokuro contain a lot of theanine (amino acid), the cup will be very sweet with little bitterness if you brew it at a lower water temperature, about 160 degrees. Regular Senchas will not have such a sweet taste when brewed this way. The suggested brewing parameters will allow you to experience the exceptional flavor that you can get only from this tea. Of course, this is a suggestion and you can adjust the amount of water to suit your taste.

Q: How long should a tea bag stay in hot water before removing? I have been leaving the bag in the cup until I finished the tea and a friend told me that I shouldn't be leaving the bag in that long.
A: Our tea bag brewing instructions suggests "30 seconds" and that is considered general rule for green tea. However, there is no hard and fast rule; it's personal preference. Den actually leaves the bag until he finishes the cup exactly like you. It is simply because he likes a strong cup of tea. It takes longer to get the tea strong enough for him with the hard water in the US than soft water in Japan. Please enjoy however it tastes the best for you.

Q: Can cold brew iced tea be brewed with hot water in a teapot? Will this affect the taste or flavor?
A: You can brew cold brew iced tea with hot water. It is not a problem and actually it is very good because the tea leaf used for cold brew is very high quality and designed to infuse quickly.

Q: What about subsequent infusions for Sencha and Gyokuro?
A: We recommend 180-195 degrees and 15 seconds for Sencha and 160-175 degrees and 30 seconds for Gyokuro. The higher water temperature makes a cup slightly more bitter or fresher. Please adjust temperature and time to your preferred taste.

Q: How many infusions can one expect?
A: We usually advise up to 2 infusions and Den usually follows the guideline. You can go beyond two, but of course, the tea will get weaker.


Q: What is the best way to brew Den's Tea?

Q: What is the best way to prepare iced green tea?

A: The "best" brewing method for iced green tea depends somewhat on your situation. There are two methods, hot brewing and cold infusion. I'll describe both methods and their benefits, and then you can choose the best one for you.

For hot brewing, prepare your favorite tea and use 50% more tea leaves than recommended in the Brewing Parameters. Steep as directed for hot tea. Now, this is the important part, once brewed, immediately pour the tea into a container filled with ice. The rapid cooling locks in the aroma. The longer steeping will brew a more flavorful cup so it will stand up to the ice. This method of making iced tea takes only a little longer than making a hot cup of tea so it is a great spur of the moment treat or when a friend stops in for an unexpected visit.

For cold infusing, you can use loose tea or our cold brew tea bags. Cold infusing with loose leaf tea is especially designed for our premium Sencha and Gyokuro tea. Use the same amount of tea leaves and water as directed for hot brewing, but pour cool water into a teapot. Leave it for at least 10 minutes. You will find an incredible flavor waiting for you; a natural sweetness with absolutely no bitterness. Remember, this brewing method should only be used with premium teas such as Sencha Zuiko, Shinryoku or Gyokuro Suimei. For any other type of tea, the hot brewing method should be used for best flavor. Avoid adding ice to this tea as it will dilute the delicate flavor. This method takes a little longer and is only recommended for premium teas. Cold brew tea bags are an easy way to enjoy refreshing iced green tea. Simply put one or two teabags into water as directed on the package. Stir or shake and put it into the refrigerator for few hours or overnight. The tea leaves in our tea bags are specially cut and processed to infuse in cool water and produce a flavorful glass of iced tea. Using cold brew tea bags is easy, but takes the longest so you need to plan ahead to enjoy this refreshing drink.



Q: For Matcha blended teas, can I make a second cup or is most of the Matcha gone with the first brewing?
A: As you know Matcha does not dissolve in the brewing water but is in a suspension. You can certainly make a second cup with all of our Matcha Blended teas such as Sencha Extra Green. Your first cup will likely contain more Matcha than the second and consequently will be sweeter. The second cup will have more Sencha flavor and is still a wonderful cup of tea.


Q: What is Umami?
A: In Japan, Umami is considered to be the fifth human taste sense rounding out sweet, sour, salt and bitter. Umami refers to the savoriness of glutamine acid, a type of amino acid found in many protein-heavy foods such as meat, cheese, and broth. It is considered the most influential factor in determining how delicious a food is. It is Umami that lets you "feel" the taste of seaweed when you drink Gyokuro.


Q: Your brewing instruction suggests 120 seconds steeping for Tencha-Kuki Houjicha while other Houjicha is for 30 seconds. Isn't that too long?
A: Tencha-Kuki Houjicha is a hard twig tea. Since it is not rolled or kneaded, fibers are not broken down as they are in other regular leaf teas. Thus it takes longer for the water to extract its unique flavor and aroma. Note that we suggest a 30 second steep time for the second brewing.

Q: How cold should the water be for your cold brew teas?
A: Cold brew tea bags are designed to be used in water that is not heated. You can use water that is anywhere from room temperature to refrigerator temperature. For lower water temperatures, try using a longer infusion time, maybe 2 hours instead of one hour.

Q: What effect does longer steeping times have on caffeine, theanine and catechins?
A: Longer steeping times result in more ingredients being extracted. If you want more healthy ingredients in your cup, you may want to brew a little longer. The important words are a "little longer"; steeping too long will make the tea bitter. Japanese tea is unique in that ingredients are extracted faster than the other teas. This is because it is processed through rolling and kneading which breaks the fibers in the tea leaves. The broken fibers give up their ingredients easily. Generally, 80% of ingredients are extracted in the first cup with our recommended brewing times. Try adding seconds to your brewing time until the tea becomes too bitter for your taste then remove several seconds. At that brewing time you have probably depleted the leaves of their ingredients.

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Den's Tea Products Related Questions

Q: Do you have a retail store or do you only take orders online?
A: We do not have a retail store and most of our products are only available online, though some teabag products are available at Japanese super markets.


Q: Is your premium Sencha teapot made of porcelain or white clay? Is it glazed inside the pot?
A: Our premium Sencha teapot is made of white clay. This teapot is glazed inside and outside. It does not look glossy because a special glaze called "mat glaze" is used.


Q: What is the difference in your Premium Restaurant Matcha and Restaurant Matcha, and are they Koicha or Usucha?
A: Koicha and Usucha are used for the tea ceremony. Both Premium Restaurant and Restaurant Matcha are usually used as an ingredient in beverages and pastries. So we do not call them either Koicha or Usucha. Premium Matcha is richer, brighter green and less bitter than Restaurant Matcha. Our other Matcha, Chiyo-no-shiro, is higher quality than Premium Restaurant Matcha and often used as a practice Matcha for the tea ceremony.


Q: As for the tea gifts, does the tea come packed in storage tins or in the usual foil bag so that it will stay fresh if the tea isn't used for a while?
A: Tea is packed in an aluminum bag with oxygen absorber, so it stays fresh. But that bag is not re-sealable like our regular 2 oz bag.


Q: Is Sencha Zuiko hand picked?
A: Sencha Zuiko is neither hand picked nor machine picked. It is harvested using a process called scissor picking.


Q: Is there any reason to keep the oxygen absorber in the bag once the bag is opened?
A: No. Once the bag is open, the absorber will quickly reach its capacity. You can throw it away upon opening.


Q: Which of your Matchas is Koicha or Usucha?
A: The Koicha at Den's Tea is Matcha Miyabi, and Usucha is Matcha Kaze. As you may know, there are two ways to prepare and drink Matcha - Koi-cha and Usu-cha. Koi-cha is usually translated as thick tea and Usu-cha as light (or thin) tea. For an equal quantity of hot water, twice as much Matcha is used in the preparation of Koicha than Usucha. For Koicha, you slowly knead the tea into the water using a chasen (bamboo tea whisk) then whisk a little faster to produce a creamy and thick liquid. To achieve the taste and sweetness appropriate to Koicha you need to use the highest quality Matcha. Making Koicha with anything else will result in a bitter drink. Sometimes the terms Koicha and Usucha are used for the Matcha that is appropriate for each type of preparation.


Q: Where is Honyama?
A: Honyama holds the distinction of being the oldest tea area recorded in Shizuoka history. The area called "Honyama" is located between the Warashina river and Abe river. Most teas are grown on mountain slopes and the tea leaves are softer and brighter green than leaves grown in the plains area. The shape is beautifully sharp and the brewed tea has a fresh aroma and deep savoryness.


Q: Where is Yame?
A: Yame is on Kyushu Island and is one of the three major Gyokuro production areas. Yame also produces premium Sencha and Matcha and has an ideal climate and good soil for tea production. The fog in the mountain areas naturally softens the sunshine resulting in teas that have a strong natural sweetness and full body.


Q: Where is Makinohara?
A: Makinohara is the biggest tea production city in Shizuoka Prefecture and consequently in Japan. Warm weather and long daylight hours result in leaves that are large and thick but also soft. The tea in Makinohara is generally suitable for Fukamushi-Sencha (deep steamed Sencha) where the deep steaming draws out the body and taste of the tea. Makinohara tea is abundant in both flavor and aroma.



Q: Where is Ogasa?
A: Ogasa is one area in Makinohara city. See where is Makinohara?



Q: Where is Asahina?
A: Asahina is located in Shizuoka Prefecture and is one of the three major Gyokuro production areas in Japan. Throughout history it has received many awards for the tea grown there and Asahina tea is one of teas offered to Emperor.



Q: Where is Uji?
A: Uji is located just outside of Kyoto city in the Kyoto prefecture. It is well known as an important site for the development of the Japanese tea culture. Similar to Shizuoka Prefecture Uji is considered a region which grows high quality Senchas, Gyokuro and Matcha



Q: Where is Ureshino?
A: Ureshino is located in Saga prefecture on Kyushu Island. In the 15th century, a Chinese potter brought the tea culture to Ureshino. Consequently, tea in Ureshino tea is generally the Chinese pan fired style of tea called "Kamairi-cha". Ureshino also produces a flavorful tea processed with a more traditional Japanese steaming technique. The tea is called "Guricha".




Q: Where is Nishio?
A: Nishio is located in Aichi prefecture. It is the biggest production area of Tencha, (see what is Tencha?) and consequently Matcha. The Matcha made in Nishio is used for a variety of purposes ranging from the formal Tea ceremony to an ingredient in sweets.



Q. How is the tea packed?
tea packedA: There are two types of packages, 2oz and 1 pound. All our 2 oz packages are re-sealable foil bags and include an oxygen absorber to maintain a low level of oxygen in the bag. The bag and the absorber prevent damage from light, moisture, and air and keep the tea fresh until you have consumed all of it. Den's Tea one-pound packages are designed for high volume users and are vacuumed and heat sealed foil bags. This packaging assures that the tea you receive is as fresh as possible.



Q: Some of your teas do not include the year of the harvest in their description. Why is that?
A: For some teas, we want a fairly consistent flavor throughout the year and consequently we do not make a "sudden" introduction of a new harvest. Matcha is a good example of one of these teas. For Matcha, we will add the new harvest to the blend little by little. Sometime in the autumn, Matcha will be all "new" harvest tea. The other teas in this category are Houjicha, Organic Teas, and Flavored Senchas.



Q: (This question was posed to us in May, 2010.) I am curious about the issue of how long tea stays fresh. In the IFAQ it says it will stay fresh for 9 months if unopened, but most of your teas are from the spring of 2009. Wouldn't that mean that they are all passed this date at this point? My main concern is: How does this amount of time affect the tea? Is it less tasty? Does it lose antioxidants? Is it still safe?

A: The date on our packages is 9 months after the tea was processed and packaged not harvested. As you said, most of our teas are produced from the first flush which can be as early as April and as late as June. Once picked, the tea leaves are stored in our chilled warehouse to maintain their freshness. We monitor this storage carefully and consider our teas fresh as long as we manage their quality in our facility. When we process and package some of that tea in September, for example, we will put a "Freshest if used by" date of May. Once we ship the tea, we lose control of how it is stored. Since storage conditions vary in the home, we want to give our customers a general idea of how long they can expect the tea to be fresh and flavorful.

Green tea is manufactured with tea leaves that are not oxidized and its quality and freshness are slightly more fragile than Oolong or black teas. I don't think it loses much of its health benefits during storage; it just loses the fresh flavor. Also I would say it is safe to brew and drink our tea several months after the freshest date.


Q: Do you have any tips for cleaning the kyusu?

A: After you use your Kyusu for a while, tea residues or stains may develop inside the spout. If you see it, try using bleach to clean out the residue. You can clean the screen in the same way. Of course, you need to rinse them thoroughly after using bleach. I also suggest that you let the Kyusu dry completely before using. Letting the teapot sit for a day should eliminate any odor from the bleach.


Q: Do you have a Japanese black tea or Oolong tea?

A: Den's Tea does not currently carry black or Oolong tea. We did offer a sample of Shizuoka Black Tea as a gift during our 10th anniversary celebration in 2010 and we received good comments from several customers. The production of black tea in Japan is very limited and the price is rather high. We are starting to see a slight increase in production and I frequently talk with farmers to see what their plans are for each year's harvest. I hope we can find a stable supply of good quality black tea at a reasonable price so we can introduce a black tea in the near future.


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Culture
Q: What is Oshogatsu (New Year)?
A: In Japan, Oshogatsu (New Year or literally, !Enew month!E) is a very important celebration. It is a festive occasion typically spent with the family and evokes good feelings and nostalgia. It is more than just a day and, depending on the region, it may last anywhere from three days to a week starting January 1st.

The Japanese New Year's celebrations evolved out of rituals associated with the changes of season, which are of utmost importance in Japanese farming including tea farming. As with most Japanese traditions, Oshogatsu is full of ceremonial rituals and good food. One tradition involves ringing the end-of-the-year bell at a nearby Buddhist temple. The bell tolls 108 times representing leaving behind 108 worldly concerns of the old year. The last toll of the bell is struck at midnight, coinciding with the first few seconds of the New Year; thus a new beginning dawns, enabling the start of a prosperous and joyous year.

In some regions, each day of the celebration involves its own special food including noodles, soups, pork, sushi and rice cakes. There is even a little sake and lots of good green tea.

New Year's resolutions in Japan are made to bring prosperity and happiness for the future. An important custom in the New Year is to wish each person you speak to or meet a Happy New Year. The phrase to do this is pronounced "akemashite omedeto gozaimasu!E. So from Den!Cs Tea we wish you health and prosperity in the New Year and we look forward to providing you with fresh and authentic Japanese green tea.


Q: What is Hanami?
hanami-sakuraA: Hanami, which literally translates to "flower viewing", is the Japanese tradition of enjoying the beauty of flowers. Flower in this case almost always means the cherry blossoms or sakura. Hanami is one of the most popular events of spring in Japan and, as with most Japanese traditions, involves family, friends, and food. The tradition is said to have started in the 8 th century when the sakura was used to predict the year's harvest and announce the rice-planting season. People believed in a divine existence inside the trees and made offerings at the base of sakura trees. Afterwards, they partook of the offering with sake which was the beginning of the festivities.

In modern-day Japan, hanami mostly consists of an outdoor party beneath the sakura. Families, friends, and groups from companies sit under the fully open cherry blossoms and have a picnic celebration. The picnic fare consists of a wide variety of foods, snacks, sake and, of course, green tea. The activities often start during the day and go well into the night with dancing and karaoke in addition to the cherry blossom viewing.

Since the sakura blossoms last only about a week, the timing of hanami is important. So important that there is a blossom forecast announced by the weather bureau. The trees blossom first in the southern part of Japan about the end of March. The !Eblossom front!E moves north as the weather warms into April. The forecast is watched carefully by those planning hanami since the blossoms are on the tree for a relatively amount of time and no one in Japan wants to miss a good party!


Q: What are the "six old kilns" of Japan?
kilnsThe six old kilns of Japan are six cities in Japan where pottery has been produced since medieval times. The cities are: Shigaraki, Bizen, Tanba, Echizen, Seto and Tokoname. (Den's premium tea pots are produced in Tokoname.) While these weren't the only cities producing stoneware at this point in history, they are considered typical and major centers of the craft. At the height of the craft, each city had hundreds of kilns and potters turning out a variety of unglazed products including bowls, flasks, jars, drinking cups and even funeral urns. The quality and beauty of the work caught the attention of enthusiasts of the tea ceremony and the potters began producing artistic tea ware to enhance the experience. The kilns used in each of the six cities are rather unique. The kiln, called an anagama, is often made by the potter. The kilns are a subterranean design, usually dug into the slope of a hill. This design allows the pottery to be fired at temperatures of about 1250!e C or 2280!e F. In addition to utilitarian items, the cities are now art centers with potters producing exquisite vases.

Q. What is Hachijuhachiya?
A: Hachijuhachiya is the Japanese word that literally means the 88th night. It refers to the passing of 88 days from the first day of spring in the traditional Japanese calendar. It is a special day in Japanese agriculture since it is considered the time all the plants and vegetation begin to sprout. It usually falls around May 2nd. Eighty Eighth Night Shincha refers to Shincha picked on the 88th day. It has been celebrated since the old-times as a good fortune beverage among the Japanese. The legend has been handed down that on the 88th day the young energetic leaf of the tea plant will bring you eternal health and long life.

Q. What is Arita & Bizen?
A: Arita is on the island of Kyushu (southern Japan, present-day Saga Prefecture). The history of pottery in Arita goes back to the 17th Century and in early years produced mostly white and blue porcelain. Arita porcelain has evolved from the original white and blue and today is usually characterized by bright colors and a combination of traditional Japanese designs and Western style elements.
Bizen is next to the Inland Sea in the Okayama prefecture and has been a pottery production area since the 12th century. Bizen ceramic wares are prized for their warm colors and restrained understated beauty. Each piece of Bizen pottery has a unique personality, making it highly collectible.


Q. What is Yuzu?
A: Yuzu is a traditional Japanese citrus, used almost exclusively for its aromatic rind. Yuzu is about the size of a tangerine and has an aroma that's distinct from lemons, limes, or any other Western citrus fruit. It is not usually consumed by itself due to its sourness; instead, its rind is used as a garnish or small slivers are added to dishes to enhance their flavor. If you are familiar with Japanese cuisine, you will remember this fragrance. Yuzu is usually available only in the winter in Japan.

Q. What is Shūbun?
A: Traditional East Asian calendars divide the year into 24 solar terms. Shūbun is the 16th solar term and is considered to be the day Autumn starts. It is a national holiday in Japan and occurs between September 22nd and 24th.

Q: What is Sakura Zensen?
sizuoka zensenA: The cherry blossom front, called “Sakura Zensen” in Japanese, refers to the advance of the cherry blossoms across Japan. Every March, the Japan Meteorological Agency announces the timetable for the blooming of cherry blossoms throughout Japan. The line connecting the areas where the blossoms will bloom on the same date is called the cherry blossom front and it is illustrated by a line on the map of Japan.

The cherry blossom front is of great public interest in Japan because many Japanese want to know the best time to have a Hanami (flower viewing) party since the cherry blossoms last only a week or so. Why do the Japanese like cherry blossom so much? It is said that the Sakura symbolizes the ephemeral nature of life in that it blooms spectacularly but only for a short while.

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