Perfect Brewing

japanese green tea brewing




Brewing System
The taste of Japanese green tea is considered a harmony of fresh bitterness and natural sweetness. The bitterness comes from Catechin and caffeine, and sweetness comes from Theanine, amino acid.
Taste of main components chart:
Component Taste
Polyphenol
(mainly Catechins)
Astringency
Bitterness
Amino acid
(mainly Theanine)
Sweetness
Body
Caffeine Bitterness
The relationship between water temperature and amount of extraction of the 3 major components affects the taste very much. Catechin and caffeine are more easily extracted with hot water, while the extraction of theanine is relatively stable regardless of water temperature.
Amount of component dissolution by water
chart2
How good of a cup you brew depends on how you extract theanine - sweetness, in another words, how you control the bitterness by adjusting water temperature.
Many people say that green tea should be brewed with a low water temperature (160 to 180 degrees). This is correct for some teas, but it does not apply to all types of green teas. For example, premium teas like Gyokuro or a high quality Sencha have a lot of theanine and are enjoyed mainly for their sweet and full bodied taste. So you use low water temperature to control the bitterness. Genmaicha, Kukicha, and Houjicha are teas where you want to enjoy the aroma as well as the taste, similar to oolongs and Black teas. Use boiled water to extract the aroma as much as possible.
Taste of main components chart:
Water Temp. Aroma Taste Steeping
High Strongly Aromatic Bitter Short
Low Moderate Aromatic Full bodied Long
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Brewing Basics
In January 2010, we celebrated our 10th Anniversary of business in the North American tea market. When we started our business in 2000, tea drinkers in North America did not seem ready for the traditional taste of Japanese green tea. Consequently we developed our brewing parameters to make a slightly lighter and milder cup of tea. For example, we suggested one level teaspoon of tea with 6 oz water for Fuka-midori instead of a rounded teaspoon with 3 oz water which is the more traditional amount. Since many of our patrons have developed into tea fanatics we thought our 10th Anniversary was a good time to introduce the more traditional measures, These new parameters will brew a slightly strong cup for tea novices and we've included a suggestion to "soften" the cup. But we know that novices soon become tea lovers and eventually tea fanatics and we believe the traditional parameters will be the way you want your tea to taste.
The Brewing of Japanese Tea
the brewing of japanese teaBrewing tea can be as casual as dropping a tea bag into hot water or as formal as the Japanese Tea Ceremony. At Den's Tea, we think tea should be enjoyed for its flavor and aroma. If you start with good quality tea, it only takes a little care and attention to have a great tea experience. Here are our recommended brewing techniques. Please consider these as a starting point, not as hard and fast rules for brewing. As you brew your favorite tea, make a note of the taste and aroma and adjust the next brewing to suit your taste.

Brewing Basics
Tea is an elegant yet simple beverage. It has only two ingredients, tea and water; consequently it's important to have quality ingredients to produce a good cup of tea. Some considerations for both are:
greentealeaf Tea:Use fresh, good quality tea that has been stored properly. Unopened Japanese green tea should be stored in a refrigerated space. Once opened, the package should be re-sealed or closed tightly or better yet, the tea should be transferred to an air tight container and stored in a dark, cool place, but not in a refrigerator. Light has an adverse effect on tea so avoid glass containers.
greentealeaf Water: Use bottled or filtered water. For Japanese green teas where you tend to enjoy the taste more than the aroma, soft water is best since it is easily absorbed by tea leaves and extracts the rich contents of the tea to the maximum level. Since soft water leaves little or no mineral deposits, it is also good for your teapots and tea ware.

Soft water is water that contains little or no calcium or magnesium. Generally soft water has under 100 ppm of these chemicals.

In addition to the tea and water, two additional factors in the brewing process are water temperature and steeping time. High water temperatures (180F to boiling) will produce a cup of tea that is highly aromatic and slightly bitter. Lower water temperatures (140F to 160F) will produce tea that has a mild aroma and a sweeter taste.

Adjusting Water Temperature Without A Thermometer:
The best method to reach the desired temperatures is to bring the water to a boil then let it cool to the desired temperature. One way to do this without a thermometer is to pour boiling water into the teacups to be used. The temperature of boiled water cools to approximately 180F when you pour it into a cup at room temperature. If you transfer the water to another cup, the temperature cools down by another 20F and you have the water at 160F. By doing this, you can have water at 180F, 160F or 140F as suggested in the chart below.

Brewing Japanese Green Tea/ Water Temperature
Water temperature is approximate and variable depending on room temperature.
This method also warms the teacup so the tea will stay warm longer. We also recommend that you warm the teapot with hot water prior to brewing.

The following chart shows "traditional" guidelines for water and tea measures and brewing temperature and steeping times. Make changes to suit your own preferences. For most Japanese teas, brewing is done in small teapots that hold about three cups of tea (8 to 12 oz total). This is the optimum way to brew a premium Sencha.
Suggested Brewing Parameters
Teaspoons
* These brewing parameters result in a cup of tea that most Japanese prefer. Consequently the cup may be a bit strong for new tea drinkers. You can brew a milder cup by reducing the steeping time. For the first brewing, try 10 second reductions until you find your level of "strongness".

Gentle Brewing
Gentle Brewing is used for teas where flavor is slightly more important than the aroma. The goal is to draw out the taste from the leaves by using water that is not too hot. This is the technique for any tea that uses water below the boiling point.
gentle brewing japanese green tea

Robust Brewing
This type of brewing is used for more aromatic teas. Here the aroma is an important part of enjoying the tea. Water is boiled and poured directly onto the tea in the pot.
robust brewing

Making Matcha
Brewing Matcha powdered tea is very different than steeping tea leaves. You should have at least one special tool, a bamboo whisk called a chasen. Start with boiling water and two teacups .
making matcha

Matcha is a fine powder made from tea leaves. The powdered leaf doesn't dissolve in the water, but is suspended in the liquid. Consequently, it is important to enjoy this drink before the tea powder settles to the bottom of the cup. To help prevent lumps, we recommend that you sift the Matcha through a fine strainer before whisking.

While we prefer the traditional brewing method for Japanese tea, we recognize that there are others. Here are two:

English Teapots
english teapotsAn English teapot is much larger than the traditional Japanese teapot. It may hold up to 2 liters of water and is designed for brewing black loose tea and tea bags. For these teas, the suggested measure is one teaspoon of leaves or one tea bag per 6 - 8 oz cup of water. (Some suggest adding an additional teaspoon or tea bag "for the pot". This of course will result in a stronger cup of tea.) To brew, use boiling water or very close to it and steep for 4 - 5 minutes for most black teas. If you will be brewing green tea in an English teapot, try our brewing parameters first; it might take several tries of tea and water measures to achieve the desired results.

Infusers
Japanese Teapot with infusersTea pots with infusers have become popular probably due to their convenience. An infuser is a usually a metal mesh basket that keeps the tea from spreading throughout the teapot. They are used in all sizes of teapots, both Japanese and English. You can use teapots with infusers to brew all loose leaf teas using the brewing methods discussed here (except Matcha). Several notes of caution when using infusers for green tea:
greentealeaf As you brew green tea, you will notice that it expands. Consequently, make sure the infuser basket is large enough to let the green tea expand during brewing. Confining the tea to a small area will not allow all of the tea leaves to come in contact with the water.
greentealeaf Since infusers may not let the tea expand fully, our experience is that the steeping time should be longer, up to twice the time used in a regular Japanese teapot to get the same strength of cup.
greentealeaf Choose an infuser made from good, non-reactive material. Stainless steel is a good choice here. Clean the infuser after brewing to remove any residue.

Iced Tea
Iced Japanese Green TeaAny variety of green tea will make a good glass of iced tea. To add to the refreshing taste, we suggest a tea with a strong aroma. For Japanese teas, Genmaicha, Bancha, Houjicha and flavored Senchas are great choices. The brewing method is relatively simple. For one cup, 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 cup filled with ice. The rapid cooling locks in the aroma.

Additional Tea Tips
greentealeaf You can generally get two infusions from each pot. Be sure to empty the pot of all liquid after the first brewing. This will help avoid the second cup becoming too bitter.
greentealeaf Keep your tea ware clean. Remove any stains that start to appear. If necessary use bleach to clean hard-to-remove stains. (Be sure to thoroughly rinse the pot after using bleach.) The spout of the pot is sometimes neglected in the cleaning process so pay special attention to it.
greentealeaf Try using Matcha in recipes much like any seasoning. It's especially good in deserts.
greentealeaf Have several different teas in your pantry for drinking throughout the day. For example, start the day with a premium Sencha, enjoy Genmaicha or a flavored tea at tea breaks, and end the day with Houjicha.
greentealeaf Take time for tea. One or two tea breaks during a busy day will lift your spirits.
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Storing Tea
For unopened packages of tea, we recommend that our products be stored in the refrigerator or even better, the freezer. Our one pound packages are vacuumed sealed and are good for 9 months in the refrigerator. Our 2 oz packages have an oxygen absorber to keep the tea fresh until opened. (Once the package is opened. please discard the oxygen absorber.) After opening, store your tea in an air tight container in a cool dry place. We don't recommend glass jars since the light will impact the color and quality of the tea. Also do not store open tea in the refrigerator. Storing open packages of tea in the refrigerator may cause drops of water to condense in the package and the moisture will harm the quality of the tea. Once the tea is in an air tight container and in a dark and cool environment, it will be fine for a month or more.
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