A Guide to The Different Types of Japanese Tea

Tea may have first been consumed in China, but it has been around in Japan since at least the 9th century when Buddhist monks brought seeds over from the Chinese mainland. Since then, Japanese tea has earned itself an international reputation for being the healthiest and of the highest grade. It’s even worked its way deep into their culture, as is evident in the centuries-old traditional tea ceremony. In this article, we will focus on some of the most famous Japanese tea types.

Topics Covered

  • Gobocha tea
  • Green tea
  • Kombucha tea
  • Mugicha tea
  • Shiitake tea
  • Shogayu tea
  • Sobacha tea
Cherry Blossom Tea18 Bleach-free tea bags of cherry blossom petal tea from Buddha Teas. 100% organic and GMO-free.
Sencha Tea100 Foil-wrapped authentic sencha tea bags from Maeda-en.
Matcha Green Tea50 tea-bags of authentic ceremonial quality matcha tea from Ito En. Contains zero calories and has caffeine.

Gobocha tea

Burdrock root
Burdock root used in gobocha tea.

Gobocha, also known as burdock root tea, has potent anti-aging anti-oxidants. The bitter-tasting yet super healthy burdock plant grows naturally in the regions of East Asia, Europe, and North America. The entire plant is healthy, but it’s the rather unappealing-looking root (pictured above), which carries most of the anti-aging benefits.

Gobocha can be purchased as tea bags or in its root format. If you can only get it as root, then grate it into shavings and put it in the sun to dry for a few hours before roasting it to a golden brown color. Boil 3 grams of the root shavings per 400ml of water and enjoy it! Be sure to store the rest of the root in an airtight container.

Green tea

Matcha being whisked in ceramic bowls.

Green tea is undoubtedly the most popular type of tea in Japan and East Asia, if not around the world too. Its long list of incredible health benefits has been well documented and scientifically confirmed. There are several varieties, which is why we had to create a separate page you can read here.

Kombucha tea

Kombucha tea
Lukas Chin, Kombucha with berries, CC BY-SA 4.0

There are two types of kombucha; the original Japanese version and the Western version. We will be focusing on the Japanese variety, but you can read an informative article on the differences between the two here.

Japanese kombucha is made from the healthy kombu kelp, which is why the name translates to ‘Kombu kelp tea.’ It’s typically made by powdering the kelp and mixing it with either black or green tea. It’s super-rich in calcium, iron, iodine, and various fibers. Kombucha is also known to boost the immune system and for lowering cholesterol, among many other health benefits.

Mugicha tea

Barley used in Mugicha tea
A heap of barley used in Mugicha.

The slightly bitter-tasting mugicha is naturally caffeine-free and consumed in countries such as China, Korea, and Japan. It’s believed to have been consumed by the Japanese as early as the Heian period (794-1185). It’s made from roasted barley and is commonly enjoyed chilled. Mugicha is excellent for hydration, stress reduction, cleansing the body, and even preventing cavities. Although, it must be noted that mugicha is an acquired taste since many people from outside East Asia complain about its peculiar bitterness.

Mugicha can be pretty hard to find outside of East Asia, but in Japan, it’s easily found as tea bags (hot beverages) or in bottles (cold beverages) from most stores or specific vending machines. A word of caution: gluten gets released during the brewing process, so it might be best to avoid it if you are particularly sensitive to gluten.

Shiitake tea

Shiitake Mushroom
A Shiitake mushroom growing in the wild.

Shiitake mushrooms, which are rich in vitamins and minerals, have been a commonly used ingredient in a variety of Japanese dishes for at least the last 800 years. But did you know that these mushrooms can also be used as a super healthy tea that comes with an enormous amount of incredible health benefits? After all, it’s commonly used in Japan as an effective cancer treatment. It also helps with stress reduction, boosting the immune system, improves blood circulation, increases natural energy levels, and lots more. Read more about these health benefits at organicfacts.

You can buy shiitake at any good health store as either mushrooms or tea bags. If you can only get them as whole mushrooms, then chop them up and let them soak for a couple of minutes in hot water before drinking.

Shogayu tea

Shogayu tea
Shogayu being poured into a cup.

Shogayu is a type of Japanese ginger tea, and the word translates to ‘ginger hot water.’ It excels at treating cold and flu symptoms, which is why its most commonly consumed during the freezing winters in Japan.

Shogayu is generally available at health stores, or you can easily make your own. To make shogayu mix grated ginger pieces into a cup with either honey or syrup. Add hot water and stir well before consuming.

Sobacha tea

Buckwheat tea
PanShiBo, Buckwheat Tea, CC BY-SA 3.0

Sobacha is a caffeine-free, tartary buckwheat tea that is commonly consumed in China, Korea, and Japan. It’s made by soaking buckwheat or roasted kernels in hot water and is a popular alternative to the green tea varieties. The health benefits from consuming sobacha mainly come from its richness in antioxidants such as rutin and vitexin. These antioxidants result in improved blood circulation, prevention of leg edema, and diabetes, among others.

There is a potential downside, though. Overconsumption could potentially lead to phototoxicity but is extremely rare as one would have to consume an enormous amount for that to occur.

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