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Goin’ Japanesque!

Which One Do You Like? 5 Tea Brands You Can Buy at Convenience Stores in Japan

Are you surprised at finding so many kinds of tea offered in the beverage section of convenience stores in Japan?

This time I will introduce brands and characteristics of tea that you can buy at convenience stores.

 

What on earth is the difference? Aren’t they all the same?

No, they are not the same, as a matter of fact.

Tea is a matter of culture for Japanese people. We like to consume different teas depending on our mood from time to time.

 

Tea as an Element of Japanese Culture

japanese-green-tea1
Photo by flickr

Tea is a familiar beverage for Japanese people, and its history has been long. Tea is said to have been brought from China more than 1300 years ago. Only the privileged apparently consumed it in the old days, however common people started enjoying it by the Edo period (17th ~19th century).

But the Westernization and diversification of diet accelerated after the end of the World War II, and green tea became gradually distant from Japanese people’s lives. This trend changed in the 1980s by beverages being sold in cans and plastic bottles and green tea became once again prevalent in Japanese life.

Today we can buy and drink tea at low prices anytime and anywhere.

Incidentally almost all the green tea sold in Japan is unsweetened. They are not sweet at all.
If you are looking for something sweet, please remember it when you buy beverages.

 

Brand 1: “Ooi Ocha”

japanese-green-tea2Itoen is the company that offers this product, and it manufactured the first canned green tea beverage in the world. This company is the pioneer in manufacturing green tea beverages sold in cans and plastic bottles.

Ooi Ocha (meaning Hey, Tea Please!) was first produced by the company in 1989 and this is the brand with the longest history among what I am introducing this time.

This company is committed to the freshness. I heard its exceptional taste and aroma is established by shortening the processing time of tea leaves and extracting time. This brand’s characteristics are the refreshing aroma and mellow taste.

 

Brand 2: “Namacha”

japanese-green-tea3Namacha (meaning Raw Tea) was designed aiming to create green tea that fits the lifestyle of current day Japanese people.

Tea leaves are entirely crushed and careful lengthy extraction process is employed in contrast to Ooi Ocha.

After these processes Namacha acquires characteristic sweetness, rich taste and lingering aftertaste. In addition this tea is sold in stylish plastic bottles, which stand out from other brands.

 

Brand 3: “Iemon”

japanese-green-tea4
Iemon of Suntory Ltd. was named after the first generation owner of Fukujuen, a long-established tea company in Kyoto, whose name was Iemon Fukui.

One characteristic of this brand is that professional tea masters called Chasho meticulously select tea leaves suitable for Iemon and blend them, and they even change the taste depending on the season.

japanese-green-tea5
Seasonally changing tastes (From the left: spring, summer, autumn & winter)

I heard they change the tea blend primarily on aroma, focusing on the fact that Japanese people’s expectation on tea shifts with the seasons.

japanese-green-tea6
In addition, Iemon includes a variety called Tokucha (meaning Special Tea) which is supposed to help us reduce body fat!

The price is somewhat higher compared to regular Iemon, but I wonder if it may be worth trying.

 

Brand 4: “Ayataka”

japanese-green-tea7
Ayataka is a brand created to aim for the taste of hazy green tea poured from a teapot.

In other words the leading distinction is its effort to reproduce home brew tea in Japanese households.

A case in point is its being cloudy in appearance unlike other brands.

japanese-green-tea8
Tea prepared in Japanese households is not clear as you see here.: Photo by flickr

Ayataka is also produced with the cooperation of Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten, a long- established tea store in Kyoto.

This brand extravagantly uses matcha green tea in addition to regular tea leaves.

 

Brand 5: Others

japanese-green-tea9
Sokenbicha (meaning Tea for Health & Beauty) is not a kind of green tea but blended tea and this is one of the popular brands in Japan.

It uses a total of 12 kinds of ingredients including pearl barley and chameleon plant, but it doesn’t make it taste like medicine. Its characteristic is the fragrant and gentle taste.

And containing no caffeine is another welcomed feature.

japanese-green-tea10
Jurokucha (meaning Sixteen Tea) is also a popular blended tea with characteristic deep taste and refreshing aftertaste. It contains no caffeine like Sokenbicha.

I heard this tea contains minerals derived from the ingredients and it is perfect for hydration of the body.

 

I have introduced here typical brands so far, but there are many other different kinds of tea in addition to them, such as hojicha (roasted green tea; tea leaves are roasted over high heat) and genmaicha (roasted brown rice is blended with tea leaves). There is a limit in expressing characteristics of tastes in words, so I hope you actually buy them and try their tastes yourself!

You can purchase them easily at many places including convenience stores, so please try various kinds and find your favorite one!

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Rikako

About the author

I major in Tourism Studies, and am a university student who loves Japan!

View all articles by Rikako
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