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The Fundamental Tastes of Tea: Sweetness
 

The Fundamental Tastes of Tea: Sweetness
The first taste of an authentically brewed, high-quality Japanese green tea like sencha can be surprising if you don't know what to expect. To start, it helps to be aware of the fundamental tastes found in Japanese tea. When we describe our tea, we generally focus on four tastes: sweetness, astringency, umami, and bitterness.

In this new newsletter series introducing the Four Fundamental Tastes of Japanese Tea, we'll first examine sweetness.

Sweetness
Cake or desserts might come to mind when we hear the word "sweetness." But the sweetness in Japanese tea (which is typically prepared without added sugar) is different from an intensely sweet, sugary dessert. Instead, we describe sweetness in our teas as a taste that is smooth, soft, and mellow.

 
What gives Japanese tea its sweet taste?
 

What gives Japanese tea its sweet taste?
The sweetness comes from L-theanine, a component that occurs naturally in all teas produced from the Camelia sinensis plant. L-theanine is an amino acid, and it is also responsible for the umami taste you find in Japanese teas (to be featured in a later edition). The amount of L-theanine in the tea leaves increases when farmers shade the tea trees before harvest.

What teas have the most sweetness?
You can find the most sweetness in teas made from younger, higher grade tea leaves. For Ippodo teas, the richer, higher-grade blends in the sencha, gyokuro, or matcha categories will have more sweetness and a full-bodied character. Additionally, gyokuro and matcha are shaded before harvest, so they have even more sweetness than sencha.

 
Teas grown in the shade have more sweetness
 

What teas should I try first?
To start with, to get the best sense of how the sweetness is different in sencha, gyokuro, and matcha, we recommend trying one of our higher-ranked blends of each.

 

Kumpu Sencha
 

Kumpu Sencha
Sencha has astringency and bitterness in addition to umami and sweetness, so see if you can taste the sweetness in the balance when you sip this rich-category blend.

 
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Ippoen Gyokuro
 

Ippoen Gyokuro
Gyokuro features delectable sweetness and umami in droves, and Ippoen is one of our smoothest, sweetest blends.

 
> More


Premium Select Matcha
 

Premium Select Matcha
Whisk our limited highest-grade matcha with just water to understand its full potential for rich sweetness.

 
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Bonus: How do I brew my tea to emphasize sweetness?
 

Bonus: How do I brew my tea to emphasize sweetness?
The fundamental tastes in green tea will be different depending on how hot your water is. Generally, sweetness is more easily released by tea leaves the cooler your water temperature is, from 180℉ (80℃) down to ice water. To bring out the sweetness in your sencha or gyokuro, you can try brewing at any temperature that is less-than-boiling. To try the sweetest brew possible, try cold brewing: simply brew with ice cubes and cool water for 15 minutes. For matcha, simply whisk with cold water to bring out the most sweetness.

Enjoy trying different teas while you search for the exact character of sweetness that you like the best. And, once you've found your favorite, you can rest assured that the tea is carefully crafted to always be this same flavor profile, thanks to our experience producing consistent, high-quality teas for more than 300 years.

 
 

 

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