Japan produces approximately 90,000 tons of green tea each year, but only exports about 1-2 percent of its total production. Recently Japan has also become a leading importer of the finest teas in the world. Over half of the yearly production of Japanese tea comes from Shizuoka-prefecture. The production of green tea entails the steaming of the green leaf and hand or machine rubbing. The teas are then pan-fired or basket fired which gives them a distinctive appearance and glossy look and feel. These methods give a taste that is light in color but rich and full in the cup.
Variations in the steaming process produce different flavor profiles of Sen Cha Japanese Green Tea. Chumushi means "medium steaming" (about one minute) which results in a tea with a bold taste and sweet aftertaste with remarkable green fragrance. This is the tea attracting the Japanese for over three centuries. Fukamushi is a more deeply steamed tea (up to 3 minutes) which produces a fresh vegetal green aroma with a smooth body, savory "umami" flavor and semi-brisk finish. The flavor profile of this tea has appealed to American tea drinkers for over 100 years. Asamushi means "shallow steaming," approximately 30 seconds. The short steaming results in a larger dried leaf and makes for a light flavor in the cup. The longer steaming produces leaves that are more broken up and makes for a tea with more body.
Sencha, the most popular tea consumed in Japan, is known for its bountiful antioxidants, greenish-golden infusion and delicious taste. Sen cha is commonly used in Japanese tea ceremonies marking events of personal importance. In this type of ceremony it is the ritual that is of paramount importance as the individual is being acknowledged. For ceremonies marking 'life altering events', matcha is used.