When most people think of Japanese tea, they likely think of a green tea like matcha or sencha, though the scope of tea varieties in Japan are much wider than that. While Japanese tea is traditionally prepared and served unsweetened if you enjoy your tea on the sweet side, honey generally pairs well with most varieties. If you’re looking for additional guidance, we will show you which sweeteners pair best with a selection of teas available at the Bokksu Market.
No Japanese tea list would be complete without matcha. Kyoei Seicha’s Ceremonial-Grade Matcha: Unryu comes from the Uji region, known for their production of top-tier matcha tea. For those unfamiliar with matcha, ceremonial-grade is the highest quality of matcha available and is made specifically for use in Chado, traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.
For the best matcha experience, add two scoops (about 1.7 grams) to a bowl or large cup. Then add water boiled to 176°F and whisk together gently until small bubbles form at the surface. Before adding sweetener, we recommend trying the tea first to get a sense of its true flavor. If you would like to sweeten your tea, we recommend a light honey or a simple syrup that won’t mask the matcha’s flavor.
Sencha is a steamed green tea with a fresh subtle earthiness. It makes a great everyday beverage that pairs well with savory and sweet food. If you’ve never tried sencha before or even if you have, try Uogashi Meicha’s Sencha Tea. It’s sold as a single tea bag, which makes it perfect for sampling.
To prepare, steep the tea bag for one minute in water boiled to a temperature of 194°F. Take a sip and enjoy. If you like your tea sweeter, table sugar will do the job and dissolve easily in the hot water. Floral honey, like clover or lavender, will also pair very nicely and punctuate the bright earthy notes.
Sakura Green Tea
Celebrate the spirit of hanami, Japan’s cherry blossom season, and give Seescore’s Sakura Green Tea a taste. Sakura green tea, also known as cherry blossom green tea, is prepared by scenting the tea leaves with sakura petals and leaves. This tea has a beautiful gentle floral aroma and flavor. If you enjoy jasmine tea, you should definitely give this a sip.
Steep for a minute in hot boiled water. Each tea bag can be re-used for 2-3 more cups of tea. Drink it as is or add a milk of your choice. Coconut and oat milk are both naturally sweeter than regular milk, however, both will affect the tea’s natural taste. Add regular table sugar or agave syrup for a much sweeter tea that won’t mask the tea’s flavor notes.
If you love a slightly bolder roasted tea, you’ll most likely love genmaicha too. Yamasu Sugimoto Shoten’s Genmaicha Tea with Matcha Powder is made from steamed ichibancha, first flush green tea leaves, then mixed with popped rice grains and matcha. It has a nutty earthy toasted flavor. First flush means that the tea leaves are the first to be harvested of the season, and generally produces the purest and freshest cup of tea that the plant can produce.
To preserve the flavor of the tea, steep it in hot water for 30-45 seconds. Do not steep for any longer or the tea will taste too bitter. Add brown sugar which will complement the nutty toasty flavors and add a deep caramel or toffee-like undertone.
If you’re a tea lover who is interested in branching out beyond your usual cup of tea, Bokksu has a curated selection of premium Japanese tea. While Japanese tea isn’t traditionally served sweetened, there is nothing wrong with preparing the tea to suit your preferences. Though, some sweeteners pair better than others. Get a taste of some of the best green tea Japan has to offer and give a new tea a try.