How To Brew Japanese Green Tea


Brewing loose leaf green tea isn't difficult to master as long as you take into consideration the aspects that can have a positive or negative outcome on the brewed tea. Being able to adjust something that you are doing wrong can often help a great deal. The following are tips on how to make green tea:

Water Quality

DO NOT over look the water that you use to brew your green tea, it is absolutely vital! The authentic taste of Japanese tea will not be achieved with poor water selection. We strongly advice every customer to search for a soft water supply to brew Japanese tea. These types of water can have a negative impact on the delicate taste and aroma of Japanese tea, so we do not recommend them at all:

  • Tap water.
  • Hard water.
  • Distilled water.
  • Reverse osmosis water.
  • Any other water that just tastes bad!

Recommend option:

  • Soft water with fewer minerals e.g. bottled spring water.

Leaf-To-Water Ratio

One of the biggest mistakes made when brewing high quality green tea is not using enough leaf.

The higher quality the leaf the less water and more leaf you need to use! In general, loose leaf green tea that has more astringency/bitterness and little to no sweetness needs be prepared with less leaf and more water otherwise the tea will be too bold and astringent . On the other hand, loose leaf green tea that has little to no astringency and more sweetness needs to be prepared with more leaf and less water otherwise the taste will be too light. To start off with, we recommend the following leaf to water ratio for high quality green tea. Many people have a different preference so, of course, this can be adjusted to that.

  • Gyokuro: Recommended: 2g/1oz To find your preferred brew try between: 1g-3g/1oz
  • Kabusecha and Sencha: Recommended: 1g/1oz To find your preferred brew try between: 0.75-1.25g/1oz
  • Hojicha and Genmaicha: Recommended: 1g/1oz To find your preferred brew try between: 0.5-1g/1oz

Water Temperature

Many people make the mistake of using boiling water or water that is too hot for the type of Japanese tea they are preparing. This will result in a bitter tasting green tea. Water temperature varies depending on the type of tea. Japanese tea is brewed at various temperatures depending on the type:

  • Gyokuro = 40-60°C (104-140°F)
  • Kabusecha = 60-65°C (140-149°F)
  • Asamushi Sencha = 60-70°C (140-158°F)
  • Fukamushi Sencha = 65-70°C (149-158°F)
  • Hojicha and Genmaicha = 80-90°C (176-194°F)
  • Black and Oolong Tea = 90-95°C (194-203°F)

Reducing Water Temperature

One of the best ways to get the temperature of the water to the correct level is to boil your kettle then pour the water into your teapot (without the green tea leaves) and wait for 1 minute then pour the water from the teapot into the teacup(s) and discard the excess water from the teapot. Add your green tea leaves to the now empty teapot then pour the water from the teacup(s) into the teapot. The water should have fallen to around 70C which is perfect for sencha. This method does three things, it reduces the temperature of the water to the correct level, pre-warms the teapot and cup(s), and measures the exact amount of water you need for your cup(s) of Japanese green tea. If you don't fancy this method then it's just as easy to either use your intuition or a thermometer.

Infusion Time

The time that green tea takes to infuse is dependent on the type of green tea you are going to brew.

First Steep:

  • Gyokuro = 2-3 minutes.
  • Light Steamed Sencha = 1-2 minutes.
  • Medium Steamed Sencha = 1-1½ minutes.
  • Deep Steamed Sencha = 1 minute.

Second Steep:

  • Instant - 30 seconds. An instant second steep often gives better later steeps.

Third Steep:

  • 30 seconds – 90 seconds. Hotter water can be used.

Any Additional Steeps:

  • Hotter water and longer steeping times.

Pouring The Tea

When you steep loose leaf green tea it is important not to shake or swirl the teapot because this can cause the tea to become bitter. After the tea has infused for the correct amount of time you should pour it into the teacup(s) gently and slowly. Many people make the mistake of pouring green tea too fast. This clogs the filter/strainer, the full flavor of the tea will not be extracted, and water will remain in the teapot which will continue to steep the leaves resulting in poor tasting additional steeps. If you have more than one cup you should pour little by little into each cup alternately to insure the taste and quantity are the same in each cup, or alternatively pour the tea into a small glass pitcher and then pour the tea from the pticher into the teacups. Between infusions it's a good idea to remove the lid of the teapot to allow the inside of the teapot to cool down which reduces the chances of the tea leaves continuing to steep between infusions.

Teapot Selection

If you intend to get the best results from your loose leaf Japanese tea, you shouldn't be without a Japanese Teapot (kyusu in Japanese), it's most essential teaware! They are designed for the job at hand, and there is simply no better way to brew Japanese loose leaf green tea. They allow the tea leaves to open fully which in turn releases the full flavor from the tea leaves. Other methods such as tea balls and tea strainers often don't allow the leaves to open fully which can result in a depleted tasting green tea.

Teacup Selection

Generally, Japanese green tea is brewed in small teacups. We carry a selection of small <a href="">Japanese Teacups</a> that are suitable for brewing organic green teas such as sencha, kamairicha, gyokuro, and kabusecha etc.. 8oz western teacups are not really suitable for those types of teas, but hojicha, genmaicha, and bancha can be brewed fairly well in bigger cups.

Recommended serving size per cup:

  • Gyokuro, Tencha = 1-3oz
  • Sencha, Kamairicha, and Kabusecha = 3-5oz
  • Hojicha, Genmaicha, and Bancha = 4-6oz

Storing Tea

For unopened packets of tea we recommend storing them away from light, air, heat, moisture and strong odors. By doing so, the tea inside the packet will keep fresh for many months. However, once the packet is opened the freshness can deteriorate very quickly if exposed to light, air, heat, moisture and strong odors. Therefore, we recommend to drink opened packets within a few weeks and keep them either in the original packet or use a small tea canister. We do not recommend long-term storage of any open packets of teas at all.