Japan first saw tea along with another famous Chinese export, Buddhism. Buddhist monks brought tea, tea culture and ultimately tea plants to Japan late in the sixth century. It was not until the twelfth century that tea drinking was embraced by the Japanese citizenry. Today nearly all tea grown in Japan is green tea. It can be separated into three grades; Gyokuro, Sencha and Bancha. This Fukujyu is in the sencha category and is rated as one of the better export sencha teas. The green leaf, which goes into this tea, only comes from the first and second flush. Additionally the plucking cycle for this tea during the 1st and 2nd flush is every 4 days. This produces a tea that is mainly comprised of young tender shoots. After plucking the tea is steamed to denature it and stop any possibility of fermentation. After the steaming process the tea is rolled and pan-fired. (You can see the effects of the pan firing – the leaves take on a sheen). Sencha tea generally yields clear, pale-green cups that carry many of the same vegetal, grassy notes common to all Japanese teas. Historically this taste was not popular among westerners, but in the past 10 years or so western tastes have begun to embrace the taste and the commensurate health benefits of Japan’s green teas.
Traditional brewing of green tea at 80°C for 3 to 5 minutes yields about 15 – 25 milligrams of caffeine per 6 ounce cup compared to 30-45 mg for black tea (if black tea is brewed with boiling water 95-100°C). While green tea is generally thought to contain less caffeine per cup, this is only true if it is brewed in the traditional green tea method because more caffeine is released the hotter the water.