How to drink Japanese tea
All teas have their own optimal steeping method that will unlock their best range of flavours. Water quality and temperature, as well as steeping time are some of the key components to a perfect cup of delicious tea, but the taste will depend on more factors listed below.
Japanese tea is traditionally steeped more than once, meaning that the same tea leaves are used several times and allowing for the beneficial constituents of tea to be released into the water (with the exception of matcha where the entire leaf is consumed as a powder). With each steeping a different taste is unlocked, and this is accomplished by changing different elements of the process, like the water temperature and steeping time.
Always remember your favourite way to steep your tea is for you to discover! See our steeping guides for each tea type here.
- Water quality
The water quality obviously influences the taste and enjoyment of your tea, as it is the second most important ingredient in your cup. Always use good quality water, the perfect ph balance for Japanese green tea is 7.
If you use tap water, the quality will vary strongly depending on where you are, and it typically contains chlorine. So use bottled spring water to taste or consider filtering the tap water for flavour and ph balance. Our charcoal bars do exactly that.
If you are using tap water, we recommend to keep water in a carafe for 12-24 hours (which allows the chlorine to evaporate), use a charcoal bar to bring the ph to an optimal level for a great flavour.Learn more about our charcoal bars
- Water temperature
When boiling the water, the temperature will have a significant effect on the taste of your tea. Broadly speaking, the hotter the water temperature, the more ‘bitterness’ is released.
Some kettle manufacturers offer a green tea function that allows for a specific temperature. If you don't have this available, there are several ways of getting the temperature right:
Bring the water to boiling point (= 100°C /212°F )
Pour the water into a cup that has room temperature. Each time you pour it into another container / cup, the temperature goes down by approximately 10°C. So if you want to have 80°C / 176°F, pour the boiling water once from the kettle into a cup (90°C), then pour it again into another cup (80°C).
Alternatively, you can bring the water to a boil, then let it cool for a few minutes and measure the temperature.
For perfect taste, use fresh water for every brew (do not reboil water that has already been boiled), and for environmental / energy efficient reasons only boil as much water as you will need.
- Steeping time
Tea leaves are processed in a way that they are curled up lengthwise to resemble fine needles. When hot water is poured over them, they usually need around 40 seconds to uncurl and release their flavours. In a second or third steeping the leaves are already opened, so the steeping times change accordingly.
- Pouring technique
If you drink tea on your own, nothing to see here. But if you pour for more than one cup, there is a pouring technique:
Alternate the pouring from your kyusu between the cups, every few seconds. This is done because the intensity of the tea flavour and colour are different inside the kyusu, so to distribute the flavour evenly between the cups we alternate the pouring to achieve an even flavour in all cups. Otherwise the first cup might have a light flavour, whereas the last cup will have an intense flavour.
- Tea ware
The drinking experience is definitely influenced by the quality and texture of the tea ware.
There is research that gives evidence to something we all know already: drinking tea out of a plastic cup versus a handmade ceramic bowl makes a huge difference in our experienced enjoyment.
The little details matter, and we believe that the care, traditions and artistry that go into our tea wares elevate the tea drinking experience as a whole. So make your everyday more enjoyable by treating yourself (and your tea) to some beautiful tea wares.Shop tea ware
The best way to keep your tea delicious and fresh is by storing your tea in an airtight container. Our boxes are designed to block out light (to not degrade the tea quality) and are airtight until opened, but best is to keep it in a tea canister specifically made for Japanese tea.Shop tea canister