Japanese tea (日本茶)

"Japanese tea" is the term used in daily conversation and refers to 'tea of Japan,' that is, 'tea made in Japan' or 'a kind of tea which is often drunk in Japan.'
It is not a term defined as tea in a scholarly classification.

Variety of Japanese tea

Many types Japanese tea are made through a process of heat-treating by steaming to prevent oxidization and fermentation, crumpled (some tea is not crumpled) and dried. Tea leaves stop fermenting immediately when they are heat-treated soon after being picked. Therefore, Japanese tea usually means green tea. Some Japanese tea is heat-treated by roasting in an iron pot instead of steaming. Japanese tea processed like this is called "Kamairicha." Ureshino-cha in Kyushu (southernmost of the four main islands of Japan) is one of the famous Kamairicha. The process of steaming is seen only in Japan and the process of roasting is similar to that done with Chinese tea.

The term 'Sencha' (green tea) is often used both in a narrow sense and in a broad sense. 'Sencha' in the narrow sense refers to middle class green tea between Gyokuro (refined green tea) (high-quality tea) and Bancha (coarse tea) (low-quality tea) (in detail, see Gyokuro, Sencha, and Bancha). 'Sencha' in a broad sense, is a term for the tea that is not made into powder, and which was transmitted from China since recent times, as opposed to Macha (the powdered green tea used for ceremonies) (steamed and dried before being stone-ground) which was established before medieval times.

Green tea is almost synonymous with unfermented tea (不発酵茶) in scholarly classification, but in Japan it generally means Sencha (in a broad sense) simply, the green tea which is produced most often. In other words, it means Gyokuro, Bancha, Hojicha (roasted green tea), Genmaicha (tea with roasted rice) and so on, other than Sencha (in a narrow sense). Moreover, in a broader sense, Macha is also included.

In some parts of Japan, a fermented tea which is similar to the black tea of China, is produced and called Tsukemono-cha (漬物茶). It is produced mainly in the Shikoku region, such as Awa-bancha in Tokushima Prefecture, Goishi-cha in Kochi Prefecture and Ishizuchikuro-cha in Ehime Prefecture. Batabata-cha in Toyama Prefecture is also included in areas other than Shikoku region.

Macha (powdered green tea) (=> tea ceremony)
Sencha (in a broad sense) (=> Sencha-do)
Sencha (in a narrow sense)
Boiled tea
Kukicha (bocha)
Bancha of Kamairicha
Tukemono-cha (fermented tea)

Production areas and brands of Japanese tea
Following are production areas of Japanese tea in numerical order of prefectures without regard to name recognition.

Kesen-cha (Iwate Prefecture)
Mono-cha (Miyagi Prefecture)
Hiyama-cha (Akita Prefecture) - regarded as the northern limit for tea production. Not sold on the open market.

Sashima-cha, Okukuji-cha and Furuuchi-cha (Ibaraki Prefecture)
Sayama-cha and Kawagoe-cha (Saitama Prefecture)
Sakura-cha (Chiba Prefecture)
Tokyo Sayama-cha (Tokyo)
Ashigara-cha (Kanagawa Prefecture)
Murakami-cha (Niigata Prefecture) - the northern limit among teas sold on the open market.
Batabata-cha (Toyama Prefecture)
Kaga-cha (Ishikawa Prefecture)
Nanbu-cha (Yamanashi Prefecture)
Ina-cha and Akaishimei-cha (Nagano Prefecture)
Ibi-cha and Shirakawa-cha (Gifu Prefecture)
Shizuoka-cha (Shizuoka Prefecture); Kawane-cha, Yabukita-cha, Numazu-cha, Fuji-cha, Asahina-gyokuro, Ashikubo-cha, Honyama-cha, Ryokochi-cha, Ihara-cha, Umegashima-cha, Okabe-cha, Haibara-cha, Kanaya-cha, Tenryu-cha, Fujieda-cha, Kakegawa-cha, Kikugawa-cha, Ogasa-cha, Fukuroi-cha, Shibukawa-cha, Guri-cha (Ito City) and so on. Shizuoka-cha is produced all over Shizuoka Prefecture.

Nishio-Tencha, Asuke-kancha, Shinshiro-cha, Miyazaki-bancha and Mikawa-cha (Aichi Prefecture). Ise-cha (Mie Prefecture) - Watarai-cha, Inan-cha, Suzuka-cha, Odai-cha, Kameyama-cha, Suizawa-cha, Iga-cha, etc. It leads Japan in the production of Kabusecha (covered tea).

Asamiya-cha, Mandokoro-cha and Tsuchiyama-cha (Shiga Prefecture)
Uji tea, Uji Bancha, Wazuka-cha and Ryotan-cha (Kyoto Prefecture) - in a broad sense the tea in Yamashiro area is called Uji tea.

Tanba-cha, Moshi-cha, Yashiro-cha, Asagiri-cha and Asagomidori (Hyogo Prefecture)
Yamato-cha (Nara Prefecture) - Tsukigase-cha, Fukusumi-cha, Yagyu-cha and Yamazoe-cha.

Irokawa-cha, Kawazoe-cha and Otonashi-cha (Wakayama Prefecture). Izumo-cha and Daito-bancha (Shimane Prefecture).
Mimasaka-cha and Sakushu-bancha (Okayama Prefecture)
Sera-cha (Hiroshima Prefecture)
Yamaguchi-cha (Yamaguchi Prefecture)
Awa-bancha and Aioi-bancha (Tokushima Prefecture)
Takase-cha (Kagawa Prefecture)
Shingu-cha, Kuma-cha, Kihoku-cha, Uwa-cha, etc. (Kagawa Prefecture)
Goishi-cha, Tosa-bancha and Tosa-cha (Kochi Prefecture)
Yame-cha (Fukuoka Prefecture) - it is famous for Gyokuro and dominates high ranking in bench shows (See related link). Ureshino-cha (Saga Prefecture) - famous for Kamairicha.

Sonogi-cha, Sechihara-cha and Shimabara-cha (Nagasaki Prefecture)
Kumamoto-cha (Kumamoto Prefecture) -Yabe-cha, Yabe-cha, Sagaramidori, Takema-cha, Suigen-cha, etc. Inbi-cha, Tsue-cha, etc. (Oita Prefecture). Hyuga-cha (Miyazaki Prefecture) - Gokase-cha, Miyakonojo-cha, Hyuga-cha, etc. Kagoshima-cha (Kagoshima Prefecture) - Chiran-cha, Ei-cha, Satsuma-cha, Miyanojo-cha, Mizobe-cha, Takarabe-cha, etc.

In addition, there is a proverb that "the best colored tea is Shizuoka-cha, the best flavored tea is Uji tea and the tea with the best taste is Sayama-cha," but these are words of Sayamachatsumi-uta and there is no theoretical reason for these being the three major teas in Japan.

The classification by sesonal periods when tea leaves are picked.

In Japan, the classification by the sesonal periods when tea leaves are picked follows;

Classification by seasonal periods
Ichibancha (first picking) - from March 10 to May 31
Nibancha (second picking) - from June 1 to July 31
Sanbancha (third picking) - from August 1 to September 10
Yobancha (fourth picking) - from September 11 to October 20
Shuto bancha (Autumn - Winter bancha) - from October 21 to December 31
Toshun bancha (Winter - Spring bancha) - from January 1 to March 9

With regard to qualifications related to Japanese tea, 'Nihoncha instructor' and 'Nihoncha adviser' are certified by Japan Tea Industry Central Association.

Iruma City Museum: displaying 'tea' mainly as a major place of production for Sayama Tea. A special exhibition was held 'Journey to the northern limit - visiting nature and the history of tea' in 1999. It has a collection of bottles of tea.

[Original Japanese]