Japan produces some of the best green teas in the world. The primary producing area in Japan is the Shizuoka prefecture, which is west south west of Tokyo. The famous bullet train zooms through the tea growing area about 25 minutes after leaving Shinjuku station on its way to Osaka. The efficiency of Japan’s tea production is amongst the highest in the world reaching yields of 1500 pounds per acre. Despite the fact that mechanical plucking is used, the tea made is generally considered the best green tea in the world. Interestingly, due to its northern latitude all the tea fields have large fans covering the whole acreage. The fans are turned on during cold snaps to circulate the air and protect the tea bush from freezing.
Japan only exports about 1-2 percent of its total production and recently has become a leading importer of the finest teas in the world. Over half of the yearly production of Japanese tea comes from Shizuoka. The production of green tea entails the steaming of the green leaf and hand or machine rubbing. The teas are then pan-fried 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.
Sencha 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. Matcha is a sencha that has been turned into a powder through a painstaking but important ritual.