JAPANESE GREEN TEA SPECIALTY STORE

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

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.

A: See "About Den's Tea"

A: After picking, green tea is processed to stop the oxidizing process of the enzymes in the tea leaves. 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.

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"

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.

A: 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.

A: 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.

A: See Brewing under the LEARN tab.

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.

A: See the heading Storing Tea under Brewing

A: While all tea is made from the same tree, Camellia Sinensis, there are a number of varieties in this plant family. The major varieties are the Chinese plant and Assamica. In Japan, 108 cultivars 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 cultivar north of a bamboo bush. In Japanese, "bush" is "Yabu" and "north" is "kita", consequently the named "Yabukita". The other relatively major tea cultivars in Japan are Yutaka-midori, Sayama-kaori, and Kanaya-midori. These are registered cultivars and sometimes the name is used for the product itself. Each cultivar 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.

A: 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 L-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.

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.

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.

A: Yes. See our Black tea and Oolong tea products.

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.

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 five standard tastes - bitter, sweet, sour, salty and umami that are picked up in the mouth and sent to the brain. 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.

A: See the heading Storing Tea under Brewing.

A: Tea Breeds and Tea Cultivars are used interchangeably. See Japanese Tea under the LEARN tab.

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 our 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 150C 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 300C 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.

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.

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.

A: Effective on January 1, 2014, the U.S. established trade partnerships with Japan and several countries so that products certified as organic in those countries to can be sold as organic in the U.S. In Japan the organic standards are called the Japanese Agricultural Standards (JAS). To qualify, those organic products must be either produced or have had final processing or packaging occur within Japan.

Tea Enjoyment

A: I recommend Fukamushi Sencha for Sushi. Fukamushi'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 Fukamushi Sencha
Tempura, Teriyaki Genmaicha, Houjicha
Sandwich Kukicha, Flavored Sencha
Sweets Matcha, Sencha, Gyokuro
Hamburger, Pizza, Fried Chicken, Tacos Genmaicha, Houjicha

A: Houjicha, Genmaicha and Bancha have relatively less caffeine than the other green teas. Both Houjicha and Genmaicha also have an especially nice, relaxing aroma.

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 Kukicha 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.

- 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 L-Theanine.

A2: Teas categorized by flavor?
- Fresh bitterness-Sencha, Fukamushi Sencha or Bancha
- 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

Health & Safety Related Questions

A: See Green Tea Health & Benefits under the LEARN tab.

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 leaves. This breaks down the fibers in the leaf allowing for faster and more complete extraction of the healthy components of the tea.

A: Yes, this is true. Dry tea leaves contain more caffeine than dry coffee beans. However, one pound of dry tea leaves 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.

A: Here is a general comparison of the caffeine content of the brewed liquid for several teas and coffee:

Type of food Type of food
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 L-Theanine (amino acid). L-Theanine counteracts the stimulatory effects of caffeine and promotes relaxation.

While we know that green tea is rich in L-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.

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 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.

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 grown in a safe environment.

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.

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".

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.

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 L-Theanine (amino acid) which promotes relaxation. So I recommend Sencha for the most antioxidants and the overall best health benefits.

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 L-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.

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.

A: Matcha is made of Tencha which contains high amount of L-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!

A: No. There are no GMO in the Japanese tea industry.

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.

A: Yes. No lead is contained in the clay used for our teapots.

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.

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.

A: See “Relaxation & L-Theanine” in GREEN TEA & HEALTH.

A: Yes, Den's Tea considers Matcha a superfood, although we understand that "superfood" is just a marketing term. We think superfoods can be even more super if you consume them often. As well as the health benefits mentioned above, Matcha tastes good and, with our various Matcha products, it can be easily prepared and consumed on a daily basis.

A survey of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists indicates that people’s interest in healthy, nutritional foods has moved green tea into to the top three ranked superfoods. A reason why more people are drinking green tea these days.

Brewing Related Questions

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A: See Brewing under the LEARN tab.

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.

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.

A: 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.

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.

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.

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.

Den's Tea Products Related Questions

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.

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.

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

A: No. Once the bag is open, the absorber will quickly reach its capacity. You can throw it away upon opening.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 the Emperor.

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.

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".

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.

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.

A: 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.

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.

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.

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.

Culture

A: In Japan, Oshogatsu (New Year or literally, "new month") 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". So from Den's 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.

A: 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 "blossom front" 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!

The 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°C or 2280°F. In addition to utilitarian items, the cities are now art centers with potters producing exquisite vases.

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.

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.

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.

A: Traditional East Asian calendars divide the year into 24 solar terms. Shubun 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.

A: 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.