E: info@chaya.co.jp
T: +81 54 255 6855

HOME > Japanese Tea 108 > All About Brewing


All About Brewing




THE THREE ELEMENTS THAT DECIDE THE TASTE OF JAPANESE GREEN TEA.
Amino acids, Catechins and Caffeine are the three main elements that decide the overall taste of Japanese green tea. The amount of all three elements flowing into the tea depends mainly on the temperature of the water used in brewing. The amount of each element present in the tea decides the final taste of the tea.



HOW DOES THE TEMPERATURE OF WATER AFFECT THE TASTE OF JAPANESE GREEN TEA?
  • Amino acids - drawn out easily from tea leaves irregardless of the temperature of hot water (warm or boiling hot).
  • Catechins - drawn out in huge amount when high temperature hot water is used.
  • Caffeine - drawn out in minimal amount when warm water is used but is drawn out in higher amount when higher temperature water is used.

Warm water (50
℃ - 60℃) - Tea highly rich in umami and sweetness from the amino acids but weak in aroma. Catechins and Caffeine are almost not present in the tea.

Hot water (70
) - Tea with a well-balanced taste of umami, sweetness, bitterness and astringency with a mild aroma. Amino acids, Catechins and Caffeine are drawn out in moderate proportions.

Boiling water (100
℃) - Tea with a strong bitterness and astringency but highly aromatic. Amino acids, Catechins and Caffeine are drawn out in slightly high proportions. It is thus important to brew tea with a short steep time, about 30 seconds, when using high temperature water.

The above shows how the temperature of water can affect the taste of Japanese green tea. This implies that Japanese green tea can be enjoyed in various ways by using water of different temperature, and of course, by altering the amount of tea leaves used and adjusting the steep time.


HOW DOES THE HARDNESS OF WATER AFFECT THE TASTE OF JAPANESE GREEN TEA?
A cup of Japanese green tea is made up of 99.7% water and 0.3% nutrients from the tea leaves. It is thus important to choose the right water type for brewing a good cup of Japanese green tea. Hard water contains a higher content of calcium and magnesium as compared to that of soft water. The calcium and magnesium in hard water helps in minimizing the bitterness and astringency in the tea but in turn, makes the tea tastes flat. In Japan, soft water is used in brewing Japanese green tea. Although soft water does not contain much calcium and magnesium that minimizes the bitterness and astringency in the tea, it does not rid the tea of its flavor. By managing the temperature of soft water and steep time used in brewing well, it is not difficult to brew a good cup of Japanese green tea.


THE IMPORTANCE OF USING BOILED WATER.
Japanese green tea is prepared by using boiling water cooled to the desired temperature before pouring into the teapot. Water which is not boiled but just warmed will give the tea a 'watery' taste. It is especially important to boil tap water if tap water is used. Boiling tap water helps to remove the smell of chlorine from the hydrochloric acid in tap water.



HOW TO MEASURE THE TEMPERATURE OF WATER WITHOUT USING A THERMOMETER?
This is easily done by simply transferring
water from one tea ware to the next tea ware. Each transfer will lower the temperature of the water by approximately 10℃. For instance, to bring down the temperature of a 100 °C water to approximately 70°C, we begin by first pouring the 100 °C water into a water cooler. This process brings down the temperature of the water to about 90 °C. Immediately after, pour the water from the water cooler into another tea ware, say a bowl. This process further brings down the temperature of the water to 80 °C. Without waiting, pour the water in the bowl into the teapot with tea leaves in it. This brings the temperature of the water to approximately 70 °C.


THE GOLDEN DROP.
The last drop of tea from the tea pot is also called the 'Golden Drop'. It is packed with the most umami elements of the tea. As such, it is a common practice in Japanese tea brewing to pour the last drop of tea from the tea pot by shaking the teapot hard. Tea served with and without this last drop show a difference in richness of taste.


UMAMI BREW VERSUS AROMATIC BREW.
Japanese green tea can be enjoyed in two ways, namely, the umami-brew way and the aromatic-brew way. Tea brewed by the umami-brew way is rich in taste but weak in aroma. On the contrary, tea brewed by the aromatic-brew way has a strong aroma but is lighter in taste. These two ways of brewing are easily achieved by using different water temperatures and steep time. Umami-brew is achieved by using low temperature water, about 60 to 70
°C, steeped for a slightly longer time duration of about 2 minutes. Low temperature water draws out the amino acids from the tea leaves, thus giving the tea a rich umami taste. Aromatic-brew is achieved by using high temperature water, approximately 90 to 100 °C, steeped for a shorter time duration of about 30 seconds. High temperature water draws out the aroma of the tea leaves, resulting in a tea which is highly aromatic but less umami taste.


COLD-BREW VERSUS ICED JAPANESE GREEN TEA.
Cold-brew Japanese green tea, known as Mizu-dashi Japanese green tea, is cold Japanese green tea brewed by putting Japanese green tea leaves and water (room-temperature) into a pitcher or similar container and sitting the mixture in the refrigerator for at least two hours. As room-temperature water is used, deep-steamed Fukamushi tea leaves is recommended for use in making Mizu-dashi Japanese green tea. Iced Japanese green tea, or Rei-cha,  is prepared by first brewing the tea with a low temperature water of about 70
°C. The tea is cooled considerably and then served over ice cubes in a glass. As the taste of the tea gets lighter when the ice starts to melt, it is advisable to brew a stronger tea by using more tea leaves.


HOW MANY BREWS CAN JAPANESE GREEN TEA BE ENJOYED?
Experiments showed that 80% of the amino acids present in the tea leaves would have flowed into the tea by the third brew. Catechins, the elements responsible for the bitterness and astringency of the tea, are drawn out mostly from the fourth brew onwards. As such, the first, second and third brews of Japanese green tea are for the enjoyment of the natural sweetness of the tea while the fourth and later brews contain more of the health-benefiting groups of Catechin.
 


UNDERSTANDING AND ENJOYING THE SECOND BREW.
If the last few drops of tea from the first brew are not removed completely from the teapot, the nutrients of the tea leaves will flow into the water, which will affect the taste of the second brew greatly. As such, it is important to remove the last drop of tea from the teapot after the first brew. Also, if the lid of the teapot is left closed after serving the first brew, the heat from the water inside the teapot will cause the leaves to become steamed further, resulting in over-steaming the leaves, which will affect the taste of the second brew negatively. Hence, it is important to slide the lid open a little after the first brew to avoid over-steaming the tea leaves. The second brew of Japanese green tea is best performed over high temperature water, about 80 to 90
°C and half the steep time of the first brew.



Page top