The Japanese people are great fans of tea. In fact, there is tea for the mornings, afternoons, and nights. In addition, there is a tea to go with oily foods, tea to help you lose weight. Whatever it is, you are sure to find your cup of tea at the combini (convenience stores). Here is a taste of what the Japanese bottled tea you can expect on the shelves at a Japanese convenience store.
Japanese Bottled Tea: Ryokucha (Green Tea)
Ryokucha is a collective term for all green tea that is steamed. Japanese green teas are steamed giving them a more “vegetative” or “leafy” taste. The most common types of green tea are:
- Sencha: First round of harvest and the leaves are exposed to the sun
- Bancha: Low-grade tea from the later rounds of harvesting
- Gyokuro: The highest grade from the first round of harvest. The leaves are shaded from the sun.
Japanese bottled teas are not commonly made with high-grade tea. However, there are exceptions. The most well-known green tea is Oi-Ocha from ITOEN. This company was the first to introduce bottled tea to the Japanese market and they currently handle more than 20% of all the tea leaves in Japan.
Japanese Bottled Tea: Hojicha
Hojicha is a roasted green tea that has a more sweet, caramel-like flavor. Hojicha comes from Bancha, the earlier mentioned low-grade tea. The caffeine level in this tea is lower than that of regular green tea. As a result, Hojicha is ideal to drink during the evening.
Japanese Bottled Tea: Genmaicha
Japanese Bottled Tea: Oolong Cha (Oolong Tea)
Japanese Bottled Tea: Mugicha
Japanese Bottled Tea: Jasmine Cha (Jasmine Tea)
Although this tea is most popular in Okinawa, it is also drunk on mainland Japan. Some may also know it as sanpincha. According to some, Jasmine tea represents a mixture of Chinese and Japanese culture, as it likely originated from trade between China and the Ryukyu Kingdom, which is modern-day Okinawa. Jasmine flowers are added to the green tea to give everything a more flowery aroma. If you are a fan of scented teas you should try it.
Japanese Bottled Tea: Kocha
Kocha is also known in general as “black tea” or “foreign tea”. However, its name literally translates to “red tea” because of its dark reddish-brown color. As for the flavor, this Japanese bottled tea is fully oxidized and has a more astringent taste.
Japanese Bottled Tea: Matcha
Matcha is the highest grade of green tea ground into a fine powder. In addition, the leaves of the tea are infused with the water giving this tea a strong bitter taste. Matcha is served during tea ceremonies or temple visits and needs special preparation. As a result, finding it in a bottled form will be very difficult. However, there are plenty of Matcha-flavored snacks at the conbini. So if you’re on a budget and can’t afford a big tea ceremony or a high-class package of matcha, you can always snack on some Matcha sweets.