How to Enjoy Green TeaHow to Enjoy Green Tea
Make your teatime more enjoyable. Just follow the instructions below to learn how to brew the perfect cup of Japanese green tea.
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General Brewing Process

  • Note: Before brewing...
    • First of all, it is important to purchase tea leaves kept in good condition.Unlike dry oxidized teas such as black or oolong, Japanese tea leaves easily deteriorate. To keep the tea leaves in good condition, expertise and the right type of storage facilities are required. It seems that it is difficult for many importers and retailers outside of Japan to keep green tea in good condition.
    • Second, it is very important that tea leaves are kept in good condition to brew flavorful green tea by a procedure suitable for each kind of tea. Keep the tea leaves away from heat, light, moisture, and strong odors. Once the package is opened, please use up as soon as possible. See "Preserving Tea Leaves" for more information.
    • Third, when brewing green tea, especially high grade Gyokuro, Matcha, or Sencha, if possible, it is recommended to use soft water that contains fewer minerals. Please take a look at "Best Water for Green Tea" for further information.
    • The illustrations below seem complicated but it is the best way to fully bring out the taste and flavor of Japanese green tea. The illustration is for brewing two cups of Sencha.
  • Brewing Procedure for Two Servings of Sencha
    1. Place 1.5 tablespoons of Sencha into the Kyusu. [Figure 1]
    2. Pour hot water (200ml/7.04fl oz) into two teacups or water cooler (Yuzamashi, it is much better) to adjust the water temperature. On the first pour, it will be about 176F (80C) which is the perfect temperature for brewing Sencha. (On the second pour, it will be 158F (70C) which is the perfect temperature for brewing Gyokuro.) [Figure 2]
    3. Pour the warm water back into the Kyusu and wait for 1minute as the Sencha brews. [Figure 3]
    4. Pour tea from the Kyusu into each teacup alternately little by little, so that the quantity and taste of the tea is equal in each cup. Please pour all of the tea out from the Kyusu until the last drop, or else the second brewed cups will not taste as well. [Figure 4]
    5. High quality tea leaves may be reused three times. Brew for a slightly shorter time (40 - 50 seconds) for the second infusion. Use slightly hotter water and a longer brew time for the third and last infusion.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4
  • Three Flavorful Infusions
    • All of our teas at Hibiki-an may be brewed three times with full flavor and excellent results. Because we use only high quality tea leaves, our tea may be reused three times.
    • Each infusion will have a unique flavor and aroma. For the second infusion, brew a slightly shorter time. For the third and last infusion, use slightly hotter water and a longer brew time to extract the full flavor and constituents.
    • For the best flavor, all three infusions should be brewed within a few hours.

Brewing Various Kinds of Japanese Green Teas

The brewing procedure is the same, but the quantity of tea, water temperature, brewing time, etc. vary for each individual type of tea.
There is no manual that instructs us on one single perfect way to brew the perfect cup of tea. Although certain types of tea should generally be brewed in certain ways, it is most important to tailor the temperature of the water and waiting time to your own personal taste preference. The "Waiting time" for each tea listed below are standard brewing times. Some people may prefer to brew tea longer for a stronger flavor, or due to differences in water mineral content.

  • Gyokuro or Gyokuro Karigane (2cups)
    • Tea leaves: 1 1/2 tablespoons (7 - 8g)
    • Water temperature: 140 - 158F (60 - 70C)
    • Amount of water: 200ml (7.04fl oz)
    • Waiting time: 1 1/2 - 2min.
    Gyokuro's best features are its sweetness and mellow aroma. It is better to brew with low temperature water to enhance the sweetness and avoid any bitter taste.
  • Sencha or Sencha Karigane (2cups)
    • Tea leaves: 1 1/2 tablespoons (7 - 8g)
    • Water temperature: 176F (80C)
    • Amount of water: 200ml (7.04fl oz)
    • Waiting time: 1min.
    Sencha's best features are its refreshing yet mellow aroma, and balance of sweet and bitter taste. It's better to brew Sencha with 176F (80C) water so that the refreshing aroma and the mildly bitter taste of Catechin and Caffeine are enhanced. If Sencha is brewed for too long, it may become a little too bitter. Brewed with a lower water temperature such as 167F (75C), the flavor will become more mellow and less brisk. Please try the different brewing times and temperatures to find the one you prefer.
  • Sencha Fukamushi (2cups)
    • Tea leaves: 1 1/2 tablespoons (7 - 8g)
    • Water temperature: 176F (80C)
    • Amount of water: 200ml (7.04fl oz)
    • Waiting time: 40 - 45sec.
    Sencha Fukamushi is brewed much more quickly than standard Sencha. So it is best to brew Fukamushi Sencha for only a short time.
  • Genmaicha or Genmaicha Matcha-iri (2cups)
    • Tea leaves: 1 1/2 tablespoons (7-8g)
    • Water temperature: 176F (80C)
    • Amount of water: 200ml (7.04fl oz)
    • Waiting time: 1min.
  • Houjicha or Houjicha Karigane (2cups)
    • Tea leaves: 3 tablespoons (7-8g)
    • Water temperature: boiling water
    • Amount of water: 200ml (7.04fl oz)
    • Waiting time: 15 - 30sec.
    Houjicha / Houjicha Karigane is only half the weight of Sencha tea leaves; it is 50% lighter. So, please put about two times (2x) the cubical content of tea leaves in the tea pot (Kyusu). To extract the excellent nutty and smooth aroma from Houjicha, please brew the tea leaves in boiling water for a short time.
  • Teabag Gyokuro, Teabag Sencha, or Teabag Genmaicha Matcha-iri (1cup)
    • Put one tea bag in a teapot or teacup.
    • Water temperature: about 176F (80C)
    • Amount of water: 120ml (4.22fl oz)
    • Waiting time: 1min.
  • Teabag Houjicha (1cup)
    • Put one tea bag in a teapot or teacup.
    • Water temperature: boiling water
    • Amount of water: 120ml (4.22fl oz)
    • Waiting time: 15 - 30sec.

Adjusting Water Temperature for Fine Brew

You can easily adjust water temperature by the following procedure
  • If you pour boiling water directly into teapot (Kyusu), the water temperature is 194F (90C).
  • If you pour boiling water into teacup or water cooler (Yuzamashi) once and then pour into teapot (Kyusu), the water temperature is 176F (80C), which is the perfect temperature for brewing Sencha.
  • If you pour into teacup or water cooler (Yuzamashi) two times before pouring into Kyusu, the water temperature is 158F (70C), which is the perfect temperature for brewing Gyokuro. If you pour three times, the water temperature is 140F (60C), which is also the perfect temperature for brewing Gyokuro.

Preparation of Matcha

High grade Matcha is ground into very fine powder, so it gets rich foam on top when whisked with the bamboo Chasen. However it is also easy for static electricity to build up and for Matcha to clump. In order to improve the taste and avoid lumps, we recommend that you sift the Matcha before whisking for a smooth texture.

To create a rich and foamy bowl of Matcha, move the bamboo Chasen quickly like writing the letter "W." It is not a circular stirring motion. Move your wrist back and forth very quickly in short jerks. This method creates a nice frothy lather.

There are two ways to prepare Matcha: Usucha (thin matcha, the standard way) and Koicha (strong Matcha, the special way for tea ceremony). While most Matcha consumed on a daily basis is Usucha, the Matcha enthusiast cannot resist an occasional bowl of Koicha. Traditionally, Koicha is for tea ceremony and other special events. For those who are new to Matcha, we recommend starting with Usucha.
  • Preparation of Usucha (thin and weak Matcha, the standard way)
    • Sift the Matcha for a more mellow flavor and to remove any lumps.
    • Place 2 Chashaku or 1 teaspoon of Matcha (2g) into the Chawan bowl.
    • Pour 70ml (2.46fl oz) of hot water into the Chawan. The water temperature should be 176F (80C).
    • Using the bamboo Chasen, whisk the Matcha until it has a rich foam on top.
    For the best flavor, drink the Usucha within approximately 3 minutes. If you wait too long, the rich foam will vanish and Matcha powder can collect at the bottom. The key is to whisk and then drink it right away, when it is fresh and covered in foam.
  • Preparation of Koicha (thick and strong Matcha, the special way in tea ceremony)
    • Sift the Matcha for a more mellow flavor and to remove any lumps.
    • Place 4 Chashaku or 2 teaspoons of Matcha (4g) into the Chawan bowl.
    • Pour 50ml (1.76fl oz) of hot water into the Chawan and whisk with the bamboo Chasen. Unlike Usucha, Koicha will not get a rich foam on top.
    Only high quality Matcha is suitable for Koicha, such as our Matcha Pinnacle, Matcha Super Premium, or Matcha Premium. Otherwise the tea may taste quite bitter.





Elements of Tea Flavor

The most important elements which create the taste and aroma of Japanese green tea are Catechin, Theanine (amino acid), and Caffeine.

1. Flavor and Features of Each Element

Flavor Water Temperature for Extraction Healthy Benefits (*) Related Japanese Tea
Catechin refreshing aroma,
astringent taste
extracted best at over 167 - 176F (75 - 80C) removing free radicals, reducing cholesterol and fat, antibacterial and sterilizing Much Catechin is found in tea leaves that are grown in bright sunlight. Sencha and Houjicha (Bancha) are rich in Catechin.
Theanine mellow aroma,
sweet taste
equally extracted at low and high temperatures relaxes body, brain and nerves, restores mental balance, moderates the effects of Caffeine Much Theanine is found in leaves of young tea sprouts or tea shaded from sunlight before harvest. Ichibancha (first pick of the year), Gyokuro, and Matcha are especially rich in Theanine.
Caffeine mild bitter taste extracted best at high temperatures stimulates the central nervous system, increases energy and alertness Caffeine is found in Sencha, Gyokuro, and Matcha. Houjicha has very little Caffeine.

(*) For more information, please visit Green Tea for Health page.


2. Tips to Modify or Adjust the Flavor
- If you would like a softer and mellower flavor, we recommend you brew with lower temperature water for a longer time. In this way, more Theanine is extracted and less Catechin and Caffeine are extracted.
- If you would like a sharper or more astringent flavor, we recommend you brew with higher temperature water for a shorter time. In this way, more Catechin and Caffeine are extracted. However, please be careful not to use water that is too hot, as the flavor can become quite bitter.


Best Water for Japanese Green Tea

When brewing green tea, especially Gyokuro and Sencha, it is recommended to use soft water that contains fewer minerals. Hard water is not suitable for Japanese green tea because it does not fully bring out the tea's flavor. (Although it is said that generally hard water is not suitable for Japanese green tea because it does not fully bring out the tea's flavor, some hard water too, seems not to spoil Japanese green tea's sensitive taste and aroma as follows.)
Recommended Soft Water
  • Volvic (France)
  • Mont Calm (France)
  • S.Bernardo (Italy)
  • Spa (Belgium)
  • Luso (Portugal)
  • Norwater (Norway)
  • Viking Springwater (Norway)
  • Alaskan Glacier Gold Water (United States)
  • Crystal Geyser (United States)
  • Rocky Mountain (United States)
  • Aquator (Canada)
  • Bourassa Canadian (Canada)
  • Bottled water from Japan
Recommended moderately-Hard Water
  • Evian (France)
  • Valvert (Belgium)
  • Highland Spring (United Kingdom)
  • Naya(Canada)
We tried brewing Japanese green tea with Contrex (France), a common brand of hard water. Though the taste and aroma was a little different from green tea brewed with soft water or moderately-hard water, the taste and aroma was fine and did not diminish the Japanese green tea's sensitive taste and aroma.
  • Contrex (Mineral constituents of 100ml/3.52fl oz)
    Calcium: 48.6mg, Magnesium: 8.4mg, Sodium: 0.91mg

Removing Chlorine Smell of Tap Water

To enjoy the excellent flavor of Japanese tea, water is an important factor. If you brew tea by chlorinated tap water and the chlorine smell affects the tea flavor, you will be able to resolve the problem quite easily. You can almost fully remove the chlorine smell of tap water by either of following two methods.
  • Method 1
    When you boil water, please allow the water to boil for more than two minutes.

  • Method 2
    Fill a pitcher with water and let it sit uncovered in open air for 5 to 10 hours before brewing tea. If you brew tea in the morning, please let the water air out overnight.




Preserving Tea Leaves

  • Cardinal Rules for Preserving Tea Leaves
    Freshness is one of Japanese green tea's most important qualities. Unlike dry oxidized teas such as black or oolong, it does not last forever. Tea leaves easily deteriorate from contact with oxygen, ultraviolet light, humidity, or high temperatures.
    Green tea should be kept away from heat, light, air, moisture, and strong odors. Once the package is opened, we strongly recommend that you use the tea leaves up as soon as possible. We also recommend that you purchase a small amount of tea leaves that you can use up in a short time.
  • Procedures for Preserving Tea Leaves
    Green tea should always be kept sealed in a clean, odor-free, airtight container, and should be opened as little as possible to minimize its exposure to the elements. The container should be as small as possible to keep the amount of air in contact with the leaves to a minimum. The original packaging may also be used to hold the tea inside its storage container. It's best to keep green tea in an airtight steel canister known as a Chazutsu.
    A package of our Japanese green tea is specially designed to preserve fresh taste and flavor for a long time. An unopened package of our green tea will keep ideal freshness for six months if stored at cool temperature (under 68F, 20C) in a dark place.
    If you would like to keep your tea leaves fresh for a longer time, we recommend that you put the unopened package in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for one year.
  • Procedures for Preserving Matcha
    Matcha is ground into a fine powder, so it deteriorates more easily than other tea leaves such as Gyokuro and Sencha because there is more surface area exposed to the air. Once the package is opened, we strongly recommend that you use it up as soon as possible.
    An unopened package of our Matcha will keep ideal freshness for about three months if stored at cool temperature (under 68F, 20C) in a dark place.
    If you would like to keep your Matcha fresh for a longer time, we recommend that you put the unopened package in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for one year.
  • About Long Term Tea Storage in the Refrigerator
    Though the refrigerator is an ideal place to keep green tea fresh, it should be stored away from anything with a strong odor. The air easily builds up condensation on the tea package some minutes to hours after being taken out from the refrigerator. So, we do not recommend storing open packages in the refrigerator. Please store only unopened packages in the refrigerator. After taking an unopened package out of the refrigerator, we recommend waiting a few hours to a day until the temperature of the package is the same as room temperature. In this way, condensation will not adversely affect the tea quality.

Purchasing Tea Leaves Kept in Good Condition

It is very important to purchase tea leaves that have been kept in good condition. Even if you follow all the instructions above on how to carefully store and brew green tea, if you purchase tea leaves that have not been kept in good condition by the farmer, wholesaler, importer, and retailer, you will never enjoy the excellent flavor of Japanese green tea.
Japanese green tea usually deteriorates when it is transported out of Japan and afterward, because of poor quality control procedures. To keep tea leaves in good condition, expertise and the right storage facilities are required.
To transport Japanese green tea leaves out of Japan, it is necessary to specially consider the temperature, packaging, transportation route, and other elements that adversely affect the tea quality. Unfortunately, most groceries, online shops, and other sellers of Japanese tea do not keep their tea leaves in good condition because they lack expertise and the correct type of storage facilities.

Three Methods to Enhance Your Tea Experience

Would you like to try Japanese tea a little specially? We would like to introduce three different ways to enhance your tea brewing experience. We are certain that they will deepen and expand your green moment.
  1. You can "slow-brew" Gyokuro or Sencha with lower temperature water for a longer time. Matcha may also be prepared with lower temperature water. In addition, this method can be used for Kuradashi teas. It enhances the soft and mellow characteristics of each tea and creates a more relaxing atmosphere as you wait for your tea to brew.

    - Gyokuro is usually brewed with 140-158F (60-70C) water for 1 1/2 to 2 min. For a softer, mellower flavor, use lower temperature water: 131F (55C) for 2 to 2 1/2 min.
    - Sencha is usually brewed with 176F (80C) water for 1 min. For a softer, mellower flavor, use lower temperature water: 167F (75C) for 1 1/2 min.
    - Matcha is usually prepared with 176F (80C) temperature water. For a softer, mellower flavor, use lower temperature water: 158F (70C).

  2. To intensify the depth of flavor, you can increase the quantity of tea leaves or Matcha. Use 1.2 times the usual amount of tea leaves or Matcha. The enhanced deep and mellow flavor intensifies the differences between and unique characteristics of each individual tea. Especially in the case of Sencha, we recommend you brew with lower temperature water as above to avoid a taste that is too bitter.

  3. Special tea ware, such as handcrafted tea ware or Hohin teapot, also creates a different tea experience. The flavor and aroma of tea will subtly change, depending on the shape, size, thickness, and material (ceramic, porcelain, glass, etc.) of the vessel. In addition, the appearance of the tea ware has an effect on your perception of the experience. Handcrafted tea ware, especially earthenware is subtly different in individual details and has a special, personal warmth of the artisan. It is relaxing to gaze at handcrafted tea ware and enjoy Japanese tea leisurely. Hohin is a small size Kyusu teapot without a handle and is used to brew only the highest grade Uji tea. The size is usually 100ml (3.52fl oz) or more, and should be used together with small size Yunomi cups like 50ml (1.76fl oz) or more. It is a unique experience to brew high grade Japanese green tea by Hohin.

    In the case of Matcha, curious to say, the style of bowl has a profound effect on the tea drinking experience. The feel of holding the bowl in your hands, the texture of the smooth or rough ceramic on your mouth, and the visual appearance makes you experience the Matcha flavor differently. Would you try to prepare Kuradashi Matcha with a Matcha Bowl that differs from your everyday bowl? For example, Raku Yaki feels very soft and warm to the touch by hands or mouth, elegant painted Matcha Bowl soothes your eyes and heart, earthenware Matcha Bowl reminds you of the beauty and depth of clay, fire, and nature.

The three methods above can be tried separately or all together at once. The methods are not difficult to try, but the result provides a truly unique experience of flavor and atmosphere.