Origin Profile: Japan

Japan produces mostly green tea. Japanese green teas are world renowned for their consistency and quality.

Total Production~80,000 Tons
Approximate
Breakdown by Type
98% Green Tea:
Sencha: 60%
Matcha: 3%
Kabusencha: 5%
Gyokuro: 1%
Bancha: 30%
Common VarietiesYabukita, Yutakamidori, Saemidori, Okumidori
ShizuokaShizuoka is the largest tea producing region in Japan. It produces roughly 40% of the country’s total. This region produces the best Fukamushi or deeply steamed sencha, but also produces bancha and some matcha.
KagoshimaThis is the second largest producing region in Japan at about 33% of the total. Kagoshima produces a wide range of sencha, bancha, and matcha and it has a relatively high amount of varietal diversity.
MieMie is a small growing region at only 7% of the country’s total, but it is the largest producer of Kabusencha. This tea is shaded for 7days prior to picking resulting in more sweetness and complexity.
KyotoThe Kyoto prefecture, specifically Uji,was where tea was first introduced to Japan and it maintains some of the highest quality. Kyoto produces relatively the highest portion of matcha compared to other regions.
FukuokaFukuoka produces a relatively small amount of tea, but it produces nearly half of the country’s Gyokuro. Gyokuro is shaded from the sun for up to three weeks before it is harvested. This long time in the shade reduces any astringency and increases the relative sweetness.

Tea in Japan was originally introduced from China around 800 years ago. The tea was compressed in cakes that would be ground into powder known as muo cha. This style of tea was extremely popular in Japan where it was refined into a strict ceremonial procedure. A similar product continues to be made today known as Matcha.

As loose leaf tea became more prevalent in China, there were many modernists in Japan who promoted the new way of consumption. To prepare the loose leaves, the Japanese developed a new method of Sha Qing or preventing oxidation through steaming instead of pan firing which was common in China at the time. The tea may be produced as Asamushi, Chumushi, or Fukamushi which are light, medium, or heavy steamed, respectively. Tea in Japan is produced on relatively larger estates with flatter lands which allows them to use machinery to pluck their harvests.

While domestic consumption of green tea has been declining, there has been stability in RTD tea options, and producers are starting to experiment with black and oolong tea production. The global demand for matcha has continued to increase as Matcha becomes increasingly popular across Europe and North America. Japanese tea houses are also looking to modernize the tea experience that many younger people view as antiquated or old-fashioned.