Green tea is best known for its health benefits and usage stemming from the ancient Chinese dynasties.

Green tea is the most commonly grown type of tea in the world.

But do we really know what type of green tea we are drinking?

Well, all types of tea come from the Camellia Sinensis, thought to be first discovered in China, but green tea is created from a specific process that separates it and its health benefits from the rest.

Health Benefits of Green Tea

The farming of green tea has spread throughout Asia creating different varieties and strains of green tea.

Green tea gets its name from the natural green color of the leaves that the plant grows and green tint of the brew.

The main defining differences between types of green tea stem from the where it is grown, the harvesting method, and the processing method.

Although Camellia Sinensis is the plant that all types of tea originate, the process of which it is harvested and processed defines what type of tea will be produced.

Green tea tends to come from the first flush (first harvest), tending to come around early to mid spring.

The first harvest is believed to produce the highest quality and most expensive leaves, thus leaving those to be most desired for processing and harvesting.

Green Tea Harvest

Some strains vary based on drying process, grinding and rolling method, and even amount of sunlight received.

Green tea is different from black and oolong tea because green tea leaves are picked and steamed raw, avoiding the oxidation process that leads to oolong and black teas.

When the tea leaves are picked, they are immediately exposed to oxygen and begin the fermentation process.

In the case of green tea, farmers steam and roast the newly picked tea leaves, preventing the oxidation process from occurring and stopping any fermentation from happening.

Halting the oxidation process is the first step in green tea harvesting, but there are different types of this step as well. 

For example, Japanese and Chinese green tea differ in the steaming process.

Instead of steaming the freshly picked leaves, Chinese green tea farmers pan-fry the leaves, which flattens and dries out the leaves, but also makes the leaves more stiff than the Japanese green tea.

Green Tea Oxidizing

There are many other means in which we differ between different types of green tea, but here are a few different types of Japanese green tea.

1. SENCHA

Sencha Green Tea

The most commonly drunk variety of Japanese green tea is known as Sencha.

Sencha is grown in direct sunlight, and tends to be harvested in the first or second flush of leaves. It is said that tea leaves from the first harvest are usually the best quality.

Once picked, the tea leaves are steamed, beginning with the youngest leaves at the tops of the plants.

After they are steamed, the leaves are dried out and rolled. Rolling the leaves gives them their needle-like shape.

When you roll the leaves, it also helps release all the juices inside of the leaves, thus intensifying the flavor.

2. GYOKURO

GYOKURO GREEN TEA

The process for Gyokuro green tea is similar to Sencha, except that about 3 weeks prior to harvest the tea leaves are hidden from sunlight.

When removed from sunlight, the leaves endure less photosynthesis, keeping strong-flavored amino acids in the plant and giving Gyokuro its fuller taste.

After this, the tea endures the same steaming and rolling process as Sencha, but since the tea is more difficult to shade and cultivate, the production cost and selling price are higher.

 3. TENCHA

Tencha is made very similarly to Gyokuro Tea. It is removed from sunlight three weeks prior to harvest, and then after harvest the leaves are steamed, air dried, and removed of vines and stems.

A major difference between Tencha and Gyokuro is that after it is harvested and cultivated, the Tencha does not go through the rolling process.

4. MATCHA

Match Green Tea

Matcha Green Tea is ground up Tencha.

After the shading, harvesting, and steaming, the leaves are then air-dried, removed of stems and veins, and then ground into a powder to be brewed.

This is largely based off of the Song Dynasty custom, which would grind and brew the powder in hopes of acquiring the medicinal attributes.

5. FUNMATSUCHA

Continuing with a ground tea, Funmatsucha is known for its cheap price and bitter flavor.

The difference between this type of green tea and Matcha, is that Funmatsucha does not get shaded from the sunlight, therefore enduring more photosynthesis, giving this tea a much more bitter taste.

Even though this tea may be bitter, it actually has as much and potentially more antioxidants than the normal tea strains.

6. KONACHA

Konacha is frequently mistaken for Funmatsucha, but what many do not realize is that although Konacha means powder tea, it is not a powder.

It is instead made up of small bits of leaves that are filtered out during the processing of Gyokuro or Sencha.

Konacha is a cheap tea since the leaves are essentially filtered out bits of other types of green tea, and does not have to be cultivated itself.

What makes Konacha special is that it can actually be roasted into Houjikonacha, diluting the bitterness and providing a more robust flavor.

7. SHINCHA

Shincha Green Tea

Shincha differs from other types of tea because you will typically find the year of harvest included.

Shincha Tea is essentially a first harvest tea, meaning that the leaves are the best quality and the most expensive.

Shincha is harvested during the first flush of a plant, and normally hold a bitter taste.

The reason for this is the wealth of amino acids and the lack of catechin and caffeine.

 8. FUKAMUSHICHA

FUKAMUSHICHA Green Tea

Fukamushicha contains leaves from the Sencha, Gyokuro, Kabusecha, and even Bancha processes that are deep steamed providing a deeper color and brew.

This process provides a richer flavor and surprisingly has soothing effects on the stomach due to its light flavor.

9. KUKICHA

Kukicha Green Tea

Kukicha is also known as twig tea because unlike most teas, it is made with twigs and stems instead of the leaves.

Although more yellow or brown in color, the tea is still made from the stems of leaves that go through the Green tea process.

It comes from stems that go through the Gyokuro process, and is known for its yellow brew.

10. BANCHA

Bancha is the second harvest after the first flush has been taken for Sencha, then regrown.

Bancha leaves tend to be picked in three periods varying between June and October, with the tea leaves becoming less desirable in each harvest.

Many people are aware of some of the benefits brought about from drinking Green Tea, but do not actually know what different types of green tea will do for your body.

10 Health Benefits Associated With Green Tea

There are many different types of Green teas that offer different types of health benefits.

Beginning with our previous list, I will now describe the health benefits of each of these teas offers your body.

1. SENCHA

Since Sencha refers to the first flush of tea leaves, it has less time in the photosynthesis process, thus not spending as many minerals growing and maintaining a high Vitamin C content.

Vitamin C is key in treatment of the common cold and boosting the immune system, and is perfect for fighting off a cold in the winter.

2. GYOKURO

Gyokuro has a sweet flavor, making it a much sought after tea.

It is able to maintain its sweet flavor because of the high levels of theanine, an amino acid that forms by shading the tea leaves from the sunlight about three weeks prior to harvest.

Because of this process, Gyokuro is able to contain large amounts of caffeine and chlorophyll, ingredients that stimulate the brain and nervous system, as well as stimulates healthy skin and tissue growth.

3. TENCHA

Because Tencha does not undergo the rolling process, the larger leaves release high levels of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.

Tencha is great for boosting energy and metabolism.

The full leaves provide large levels of natural caffeine and provides the nutrients to improve the metabolism.

This tea is good to drink before and after exercise to awaken and rejuvenate the body.

 4. MATCHA

Known for its use in Japan’s formal tea ceremony, this is a powdered form of Tencha tea.

This bright green powder when mixed with hot water provides very high amounts of natural nutrients, rejuvenating healthy skin and cleaning the body.

5. FUNMATSUCHA

Funmatsucha has as much or even more antioxidants than normal Green Teas, so this strain specifically acts as a great agent to fight against the common cold, headaches, and illnesses.

Providing natural caffeine accompanied with a sweet, thick taste, this Green Tea powder when mixed with hot water is commonly drank to fight illnesses in the family.

 6. KONACHA:

This tea is most well known for being served at sushi restaurants where it is called “agari”.

Konacha is essentially the bits of filtered out buds from the Gyokuro and Sencha processes.

This tea has a very strong aroma, and although the health benefits are not vast, this tea is wonderful for visitors, cooking, or food accompaniment.

7. GENMAICHA

Genmaicha is a Bancha or medium-grade Sencha mixed with roasted brown rice.

The rice provides a different grainier flavor, and acts as a soother to the stomach after consuming tempura or eating fried foods, Genmaicha acts a soothing agent for stomachs.

8. FUKAMUSHICHA

Fukamushicha goes through the same process as Sencha, but the difference comes when the normal Sencha leaves are removed and the Fukamushicha leaves continue to be steamed for three to four times longer.

The color of the brew and leaves becomes darker due to the removal of moisture and oxidation, but provides a rich taste.

Despite the rich taste, fukamushicha can be drunk in large amounts due to its gentle effects on the stomach.

9. KUKICHA

Kukicha is the remains left over from the production of Sencha, Gyokuro, and matcha teas, meaning it comes from good harvest, but is the mixed stem and stalk remains of these processes.

Because this is a mixture of three different high quality tea processes, Kukicha has a light fragrance and flavor that provides relaxation and allows one to wake up feeling refreshed and ready.

10. BANCHA

Bancha is the second harvest after the first flush has been taken for Sencha, then regrown.

Bancha leaves tend to be picked in three periods varying between June and October, with the tea leaves becoming less desirable in each harvest.

Compared to Sencha, Bancha is much more bitter.

The bitterness comes from higher levels of fluoride, becoming effective against tooth decay and halitosis (bad breath).