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Green Tea in Japan - Its Origin Dates Back to China, 5,000 Years Ago

Legend has it that a gust of wind carried a tea leaf into Emperor Shen Nong's water bowl. This is how he "accidentally" drank the first tea. Soon, the enthusiasm for this incredible flavor experience grew, and the story began. Like many achievements of ancient China, the invention of tea also made its way to Japan through Buddhist monks. This "cultural export" took place around 500 AD and triggered significant development.

Typical of Japan, one could say, all processes related to the new beverage were further developed, refined, and cultivated. From a pastime of the samurai, it eventually became the tea ceremony (Chado), one of Japan's great cultural treasures, with much more significance and depth than one would assume from enjoying a fine, valuable, and healthy drink. Those who follow the path of tea are rewarded with a long, healthy life and the wisdom of generations.

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The Leap of Green Tea to Europe Succeeded in 1610

The Dutch brought tea to Europe. A few years later, the first tea house was opened in London, and since 1650, tea has been included in pharmacy regulations as a medicinal plant. Even back then, people recognized, primarily through observation, the positive effects of green tea on health and well-being.

Camellia Sinensis and Camellia Assamica

Both plants, the Chinese and Assam varieties, are among the original tea plants. Through cultivation, countless hybrids have naturally arisen from these plants. The breeding aimed at various goals: taste, adaptation to the growing conditions, and yield. The Assam plant is 3-4 times larger and has much larger leaves. The leaves of Camellia Sinensis are significantly smaller but also much more delicate. Both plants yield both black and green tea. For the cultivation of fine Japanese green tea, tea farmers use tea plants from the Camellia Sinensis branch with the more delicate leaves.

From Cake to Powder to Leaf

The thought of simply boiling fresh tea leaves together with other ingredients in a kettle would make a tea connoisseur who loves fine teas shudder. And, of course, the disadvantages of this initially rather crude handling of the delicate leaves were soon recognized. In China, to preserve tea, the production of tea cakes or tea bricks was invented. The Chinese heated the leaves, ground them, and pressed them into cakes. Salt, ginger, fruit peels, and even onion skins were boiled together with the tea cake, resulting in a strong drink that could hardly resemble the fine teas of today.

However, the foundation for today's matcha tea was laid. Instead of boiling the tea, the tea powder was whisked in a bowl with hot water using special bamboo whisks. Over the decades, several monastery schools refined this method, established rules, and thus created the monastic tea ceremony.

Field of green tea
Fine Japanese tea leaves
Hand-sorting green tea leaves

Quality Basis is Gentle, Careful Processing

The production of green tea in Japan is carried out particularly gently. After withering the leaves, the tea maker must heat the leaves to prevent oxidation (fermentation). While in many tea-producing countries this is done through rapid roasting, Japanese manufacturers prefer gentle steaming, which is clearly the better method for the ingredients of the teas.

So that the ingredients can enter the tea water optimally, Nagatani Soen developed the Uji-Seiho method. After steaming, he rolled the tea leaves, breaking the cell walls. This allowed the valuable, health-promoting substances to be released into the water.

Since the early 18th century, this Japanese production method has been the "state of the art." The cultivation and manufacturing methods in Japan are among the best anywhere and are carried out with the utmost care and typical Japanese quality awareness. It is therefore not surprising that Japanese green teas meet the highest quality requirements.

Fewer Varieties, More Quality

There are well over a thousand varieties of green tea. Most green teas come from China, a tea country that emphasizes diversity. Japan, on the other hand, focuses on a few varieties but constantly strives to perfect them. The most significant green tea varieties from Japan are Bancha, Genmaicha, Gyokuro, Kabusecha, Kukicha, Matcha, Sencha, Shinacha, and Tencha.

The quality grade is not only determined by the variety but also significantly by the processing. How often is a tea plant harvested? Higher qualities have only one or two harvests, while yield-focused tea farmers harvest up to 4 or 5 times a year. Which parts of the plant are harvested for which variety? A good example is the comparison of Bancha and Sencha, both made from the same plant. For Sencha teas, the buds and the first two small, tender leaves are harvested. From the larger but intact leaves, Bancha is produced, a simpler tea for everyday use. The lower-quality remainder is sifted out by the tea farmers, and another 1-2 quality levels are sorted out. The last stage - dust and particles - usually end up in inexpensive tea bags.

Green Tea Growing Regions in Japan

Japanese Green Tea Plantation

There may have been wild green tea in the mountains of Japan before Camellia Sinensis made its way from China to Japan. However, systematic cultivation began in the south with this import from China, on the island of Kyushu. Another early cultivation region was Kyoto (Uji). Later, sometimes only at the end of the 19th century, the prefectures of Shizuoka, Kagoshima, Miyazaki, Fukuoka, Mie, and Kumamoto were added. About 40% of Japanese tea production comes from Shizuoka Prefecture, and approximately one-third originates from Kyushu, the southernmost island of Japan.

Kyushu has a subtropical climate, ideal for Camellia Sinensis, which appreciates warmth, rain, and sun. The island is mountainous, with active volcanoes, and offers excellent conditions for tea cultivation. Intensive sunshine, fertile soils, flat as well as mountainous regions, and a warm climate. Kagoshima, Yame, Miyazaki, and Fukuoka are essential tea regions in Kyushu.

Shizuoka, where most Japanese green teas come from, is located almost in the center of Japan. The region is characterized by mountains and hills and has a pronounced stimulating climate that slows the growth of tea plants. However, this results in top-quality teas with particularly high levels of nutrients. Shizuoka also benefits from its rainfall and water quality. This region is a leader in Sencha production and also offers very high-quality Gyokuro.

Compared to these regions, Kyoto (Uji) is relatively small but produces remarkably high-quality teas. It is no surprise, as this region started growing tea very early, shortly after Kyushu. The Emperor's Tea, a high honor, came from Uji at the time, and every tea farmer in the region is rightly proud of it. Uji is undoubtedly one of the pioneers of green tea in Japan.

Organic Green Teas from Japan by Oryoki

In selecting our small but fine assortment, we have focused on a few tea regions and gardens. Like Japanese tea farmers, we also do not want an overwhelming variety but rather offer the excellent, fairly exclusive result of careful selection. The first teas we offer come from the Shizuoka, Kyoto (Uji), and, of course, Kyushu regions.

Teapot and teacup with green tea
Japanese tea plantation on a hill
Harvesting green tea leaves



Some of our green teas are true rarities; almost all teas are of organic quality. Our experienced partner and we get to know the tea gardens thoroughly before deciding on a green tea and the tea garden. With the exception of a few varieties, we offer tea that is of organic quality and certified organic. Each tea is intensively examined, tasted, and evaluated by us. The facts must be accurate, and it must align with our vision of the highest quality, good value for money, and, of course, our taste preferences. We are aware that our taste assessment is not neutral and objective. Whether a tea tastes good or not depends heavily on the preparation and, of course, individual preferences.



Tea jewels are valuable but rare. Only small quantities of our rarities are harvested and produced each year. They pamper with their exceptional characters and exquisite flavors that have been cultivated and refined over centuries. All rarities are of the finest quality. Since only the tenderest leaves of the plants are used for our teas, the picking quantities are very low. All pickings are done by hand, carefully examined, and selected. To fully enjoy these rare green teas, it is ideal to use soft, possibly filtered water. You can enhance the flavor by boiling the water in a genuine Japanese water kettle, preferably one from IWACHU or OIGEN, and preparing the tea in a Japanese clay teapot (Kyusu) according to the instructions.

Green Tea Promotes Your Health and Acts Preventatively

Green tea is one of the healthiest foods there is. The green tea plant has been considered a medicinal plant in Europe since a very long time ago - around 1600. In Asia, this realization occurred even earlier. The Camellia Sinensis, the plant for green tea, has been attributed with healing powers for about 5000 years. Green tea has a positive impact on health and well-being, as observed. Ancient Chinese medical books even describe green tea as a panacea, which, as we know today, is not true. However, the list of possible applications is very, very long. There are studies claiming that green tea supports or even cures over 60 diseases. But what are the proven effects of green tea? And how does green tea develop its health-promoting and preventive effects regarding chronic illnesses?

At this point, a note from us: We are not doctors, nor scientists. We research as thoroughly as possible and also check our sources, to the extent possible. Please consider our statements regarding the effects of green tea on your health as mere suggestions, by no means as a recommendation for any existing illness. For the restoration of your health, your doctor and perhaps your trusted pharmacist are responsible. Also, if you are taking medication, it may be advisable to consult with your doctor or pharmacist to see if there might be interactions with the ingredients of green tea. With our information, we make no claim to completeness. Thank you very much.

The health-promoting and preventive effect of green tea - green tea and matcha - depends on the tea variety and the method of preparation. Naturally, the soil, picking, altitude, sunlight, temperature variations, and, especially on the negative side, fertilization and pest control also play a significant role.

At Oryoki, we generally focus on organically grown tea from Japan, that is, organic quality, and on single-origin tea that is not flavored. The only ingredient found in some varieties is roasted rice, which is also of organic quality. So you can assume that our teas are free of insecticides and pesticides. One reason why we prefer green tea from Japan over China is that harmful substances have often been found in Chinese green tea. (See, among others, pharmaceutical-time).

Even the origin of Japan can be considered an indicator of higher quality, knowing that the vast majority of tea production is consumed in the country itself, and Japanese people place a high value on good quality. The cultivation and processing methods of Japanese tea farmers are considered exemplary and gentle around the world.

About the Ingredients of Green Tea

The ingredients are basically the starting point of the effect because only what is there can work. Green tea has different ingredients, and depending on the quality of green tea, it has different concentrations of these substances. That is, the concentration of ingredients depends on the quality of green tea. This is particularly evident in our shade teas. This tea grows more slowly due to deliberate shading - you may have heard of Slow Food - and can thus develop a higher concentration of substances that can be effective.

The next point is the composition of the ingredients. This composition varies widely among different types of green tea. The ingredients of green tea work synergistically, that is, in interaction, so it is not only the high concentration of individual substances that is crucial, but the substances contained in their entirety and concentration. Individual substances in green tea can only achieve their health-promoting effects in combination with other substances.

The Ingredients


These plant bitter substances - secondary plant compounds - belong to the polyphenols in the group of flavonoids. Tannins also belong to the flavanols. There are over 4000 species of polyphenols known. Many of them are found in medicinal plants, which protect them from pathogens (fungi, bacteria, viruses). Catechins are also found in vegetables, wine, and some types of fruit. Green tea contains low molecular weight flavanols, including EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which is considered the most important ingredient. Catechins have an antioxidant effect. The average antioxidant capacity of green tea is significantly higher than that of vegetables and fruits. High-quality Japanese shaded green teas and matcha contain especially high levels of catechins. Catechins are found only in very small amounts in black tea.

Vitamin C, Carotene:

Especially in Japanese green tea, vitamin C and carotene are preserved due to the rapid and particularly gentle processing (note: they are unfortunately destroyed during the fermentation of black tea).

Important: Vitamin C and carotene are preserved only when green tea is steeped at low temperatures - up to about 60 degrees Celsius - as is customary with Kabusecha and Matcha.

Theanine (Often confused with theine or caffeine):

Theanine is a rarely occurring amino acid. This amino acid is pharmacologically very interesting, rarely occurring but abundant in the tea plant Camellia Sinensis, which is mainly cultivated in Japan. Like caffeine, theanine is an alertness enhancer and increases attention and reaction speed. Thus, the theanine in green tea effectively counteracts fatigue.

But what do we need amino acids for? We need them for cell renewal and repair, cell regeneration, as building material for immune cells, for the formation of numerous enzymes and hormones, as well as DNA. Amino acids are important for metabolism, the immune system, stabilizing blood sugar levels, transporting vitamins, iron, etc., and are central building blocks for proteins. In short, they are essential for life and also very important for good taste.

Green tea owes its awakening properties to theanine. Besides its health benefits, theanine has another fantastic effect: as a free amino acid, theanine contributes to the taste profile in the highest-quality Japanese green teas. Theanine is one of the main contributors to good taste. We are pleased that theanine is particularly abundant in early-picked shaded and semi-shaded teas.

The Composition of Ingredients

It is surprising that in experiments testing the effect of the most important catechin EGCG (heart disease, cancer), green tea performed much better than the individual active ingredient. Green tea showed a stronger effect and a broader range of action. So it is not only the EGCG in green tea that is good for your health, but the special composition of the substances. Since the composition varies greatly depending on the variety and also works, it promotes health most effectively when several varieties are consumed in parallel. We recommend green tea from Japan in organic quality for this purpose. While the stimulating effect of Gyokuro, Sencha, Kabusecha, and other varieties is desired in the morning and at noon, we recommend a low-caffeine tea like our Kukicha Kaede for the evening. Matcha is a good addition to a small, private tea assortment. However, it should be consumed less frequently, as with Matcha, you consume all the ingredients, unlike with leaf tea, where only the substances that get into the water are absorbed.

A small digression: Milk in tea largely cancels out its health-promoting effect. This is bad news for those who like to drink their tea English-style, as milk nullifies many of the healthy ingredients of tea.

What Does Green Tea Contribute to Health?


Many types of cancer occur much less frequently in countries with high consumption of green tea (China, Japan) than in other countries. The catechin EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) has proven to be very effective in preventing many types of cancer. So the cancer-inhibiting effect of green tea is remarkable. Among flavonoids, it is green tea that most specifically and strongly influences tumorigenesis.

Experiments have shown that the catechins in green tea strongly inhibit the cancer-inducing effect of tumor initiators. The development of breast cancer is also significantly reduced by green tea or the catechins contained in green tea, and in cases of existing disease, the tumor weight is even significantly reduced. Especially when green tea is regularly consumed from an early age. It can be unequivocally stated that green tea belongs to cancer-preventive foods and acts preventively, especially against colorectal, lung, uterine, breast, and prostate cancer. This favorable effect has been demonstrated, for example, in a study of female tea ceremony masters, who were significantly less likely to develop breast cancer as well as other types of cancer.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Green tea, if it is of high quality and has sufficient catechins such as EGCG, has an anti-lipemic and anti-hypertensive effect. Fat absorption is reduced, its excretion is promoted, and blood pressure is lowered. Catechins significantly reduce the risks of stroke and heart attack. They protect against the calcification of the arteries and coronary heart diseases. Green tea also modulates nitric oxide (NO) production. NO plays an important role in regulating vascular tension, the immune system, and various nervous diseases. Green tea has a vasodilatory effect and has a positive impact on blood clotting. Green tea prevents arteriosclerosis, among other things, and increases the elasticity of the arteries.

Oral Health and Diabetes

Green tea is a wonderful and very tasty remedy against plaque and even caries. Many ingredients of green tea have been proven to have antibacterial properties, even in relatively small amounts. Just one cup of green tea a day can significantly improve your oral hygiene. It has also been found that green tea effectively supports the prevention of periodontal disease. Using green tea not only as a drink but also for gargling can effectively support prevention against colds and flu in a very healthy and pleasant way. Even diabetes, a common disease that should not be underestimated, can be combated with green tea. A little-known ingredient, diphenylamine, helps significantly lower blood sugar levels. Green tea not only lowers blood glucose levels but also inhibits glycosylation, counteracts insulin secretion, and effectively reduces the occurrence of insulin spikes.

High Cholesterol

The catechins and their composition in high-quality green tea significantly contribute to lowering cholesterol levels. Particularly, the formation of unhealthy LDL cholesterol can be effectively inhibited by green tea.


Catechins are antioxidants that can slow down the aging process. Green tea counteracts skin aging and provides protection against damage caused by UV radiation.

Parkinson's and Alzheimer's

If you search for studies on the effects of green tea in relation to Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's, you will find some interesting findings. Free radicals cause damage to brain cells. High-quality green tea contains catechins that can inhibit these free radicals. Regarding basic memory, theanine in green tea also helps as it significantly improves it. Theanine is increasingly attracting scientific interest as a protective substance for brain nerve cells. It seems increasingly plausible that this amino acid can be a helpful support in the fight against Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and strokes.

Infections, Wounds, Influenza

Green tea is a delicious beverage, and there are more and more fans in Europe as well. A large part knows that green tea is considered healthy, but many do not know the details. For example, green tea also contributes very effectively to intestinal health. Even in case of an acute illness, the catechins in green tea usually successfully combat diarrhea-causing bacteria such as Salmonella, Clostridium, and Bacillus. Unlike antibiotics, green tea treats the intestinal flora very gently. Green tea is a tasty home remedy for stomach and intestinal infections, as well as colds and flu. Catechins can also protect against the spread of cold and flu viruses, as well as herpes simplex when taken in the early stages. Externally, tea is used to treat infectious wounds because the polyphenols are germicidal against pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

Fatigue, Lack of Concentration

Green tea stimulates the mind. The main contributors to its stimulating and invigorating effect are the contained caffeine (there are also low-caffeine varieties) and theanine. Fatigue symptoms can be alleviated. Depending on the variety, green tea can keep you awake for hours, shorten reaction times, increase mental performance and concentration, and enhance general perceptiveness. The caffeine in green tea, unlike coffee, is released gradually in the body, making it feel warm, which is why green tea is very soothing after fatigue. Theanine works both together with caffeine and as a counterplayer to caffeine. Cognitive perception and memory are improved. Theanine reduces the negative effects of caffeine, promotes relaxation, and reduces stress symptoms. Theanine is considered a mood enhancer and anxiety reliever.


Even the caffeine in coffee promotes the breakdown of fat from adipose tissue. However, not as gently and controlled as the caffeine and theanine in green tea. Those familiar with endurance sports know that adipose tissue reserves are only used after the breakdown of existing carbohydrates, i.e., after a certain period, approximately 30 minutes. Caffeine significantly promotes this fat breakdown and thus helps make sports activities undertaken for the purpose of fat breakdown more efficient. You can learn more about this topic in our article: Losing Weight with Green Tea.