Japanese teas have a reputation around the world for being high quality. There are 5 major types of green tea in Japan. Each of these teas has a set of precise growing and processing steps that yields a unique final product.
The five teas are:
1. Sencha: This is the every day drinking tea in Japan. The tea leaves are grown uncovered (meaning in full sunlight) and steamed after they are picked. In terms of flavor, this tea is grassy and light.
2. Hojicha: This is the only tea of the ones listed here that is roasted as opposed to steamed after the harvesting stage. This gives the tea a nuttier and less grassy flavor.
3. Genmaicha: This is a blend of green tea and toasted rice. This is the only traditional Japanese tea blend you will find, as most traditional teas are simple "pure" teas. This tea has a popcorn, or roasted flavor from the rice against a grassy backdrop from the tea.
4. Gyokuro: This is a high quality steamed green tea. The tea is shade-grown for the last few weeks of growth. This method slows down the growth of the leaves, and yields a leaf that has a high concentration of flavor and other compounds. This is why this tea looks so green! The flavors you'll encounter here are a deep grassy green, umami, and more complexity than you would with a Sencha.
5. Matcha: Matcha is made from tea grown in a similar way to gyokuro tea leaves. The plants are shaded and yield a highly flavorful and beautiful bright green product. Matcha is ground into a fine powder so that instead of enjoying an infusion of the leaf, you are consuming the entire leaf. This is why matcha tea has higher levels of caffeine than tea that is simply infused!
Overall, you can't go wrong with any of these teas. The best is to try them all and decide for yourself what your favorite is! Cheers!
Check out The Counter for Tea By C's Japanese tea offering, linked here.