I was unaware of the fading of traditional tea drinking culture in Japan. Apparently it is mainly the older generations that drink traditional tea with younger ones going for sweet RTD beverages. You can read more about this interesting challenge to the Japanese tea trade here: http://www.tching.com/2018/02/japanese-tea-farm-fighting-japans-biggest-problem-age-part-one/ It is wild to think the 8th largest producer of tea, Japan, is losing their own tea drinkers.
When the CEO of Japanese Green Tea, Kei Nishida, asked me to try his company’s newest teas I anticipated that the quality would be good as in my past experience. It is the story of how these teas came about that makes them doubly interesting. The Arahataen Tea Farm is where the tea for Japanese Green Tea In is grown. This tea farm partnered with a local High School for a year teaching tea farming, production and business. Another goal of the partnership was to discover a new way to engage young people and get them interested in drinking tea. Nice! Like businesses listening to their customers this company decided to court a new customer base by actually working with some of their demographic to create a tea product targeted to their preferences.
By defining commonalities among drinks popular with the teen crowd prototypes were created then tested among all the High Schools in the region. Sweet and sour were the most popular tastes across the popular drinks analyzed. There was also a desire for something easy to make that didn’t require a tea pot as most of the students did not have one at home.
The result was a powdered green tea mix including light amounts of natural sugar and locally sourced lemon that can be made equally easily with hot or cold water. A second blend was made using mikan, which is called the Japanese tangerine, instead of lemon. Even though lesser quality tea is often used in powdered versions the decision was made to use high quality tea for these creations. The tea in question is grown using what is called the Chagasuba method. This method of tea growing uses sugar cane and other beneficial natural elements to cover the roots adding nutrients to the soil, preserving moisture and warmth. This results in a natural sweetness to the tea itself aside from the sugar added to these blends.
I sat down with a fellow tea lover, Elexis, to taste these creations and this what we experienced:
Green Tea with Mikan
I used the suggested 2 tsp. of powder to 7 oz. hot water
SCENT – Super fragrant, fruity nose, almost flowery; Scent of the green tea is mild but still present; Initial thought on the fruit was citrus but hard to get specific on likely because neither of us had ever had this particular type of orange
TASTE – Unlike any green tea I’ve ever had; A surprisingly mild, friendly, high end taste with a gentle balanced sweetness. The tea taste is there but it’s like it is holding hands with the mikan and allowing the fruit to step forward. The mildness of the sweetness was a pleasant surprise. To many western palates it may not be sweet enough which is easily remedied by adding a sweetener of choice, but it is cool that it doesn’t start off mega-sweet so the drinker has that choice. The mikan orange reminded me of San Pellegrino’s Aranciata Rossa made with Italian oranges and blood oranges.
I was advised by Kei that when the tea is made with hot water some prefer using 1.5 tsp. per 7 oz. water instead of the 2 tsp. I used the 2 tsp. and I and my friend Elexis (who kept saying “I really like this!”) both thought it was great that way.
Green Tea with Lemon
SCENT – Clearly lemon; Less fragrant than the Mikan, but inviting; Sharp, fresh real lemon scent (not at all like strong lemon scented cleaners or anything like that, more like the explosion of scent from peeling a lemon by hand releasing the real lemon oil)
TASTE – Mild though the pleasing bitter bite of the lemon is present; I would consider using the 1.5 tsp. per 7 oz. water as opposed to 2 tsp. in hot water version more because of flavor profile than sweetness level. The lemon tastes stronger than the tea to us here. Still it is a mildly sweet, instant gratification option for green tea goodness on the go.
Ingredients: Lemon (or mikan), green tea, Sugar, Dextrin and Sucralose
According to Kei sugar is less than 5% of the entire tea
You can find these teas here:
Thanks to Kei at Japanese Green Tea for providing the tea for this adventure
UPDATE: in 2021 I I was asked to become an affiliate for Japanese Green Tea Co. Always impressed with their products, I was happy to be an affiliate. If you use my discount code, teadeviant you get 10% off your order and I receive a small commission.
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