Japanese Teas That Aren't Very Expensive

Have you wanted to start getting into Japanese green tea without spending too much money? In this article, we’re going to cover 5 green teas that aren’t very expensive. These teas are a great way to save money, while still getting to explore the world of Japanese green tea.

The first tea on our list is Genmaicha. Genmaicha is made by combining tea leaves with toasted rice. Like a lot of the other teas on this list, genmaicha was invented as a way to make the tea harvest last longer. During times of hardship, people would add the toasted rice to the tea leaves to increase their tea supply. It also can help during times of fasting, as the flavor of this tea is reminiscent of a nice warm bowl of rice. The tea has become quite popular due to its lower price tag, its warm cereal flavor and its lower caffeine content. This is a common tea to serve at restaurants because it is well liked and low in caffeine. The leaves used to make this tea are the older leaves of the tea plant, making it similar to the next tea on our list, bancha.

Bancha is another inexpensive type of Japanese green tea. While most premium green teas like sencha, Gyokuro and matcha are made from the younger leaves of the tea plant, Bancha is made from the older leaves. While the tea plant needs to produce a lot of caffeine to protect its younger, more tender leaves from insects, these tougher leaves produce less caffeine. The tea can also contain older tea stems, which have a tiny bit of bark on them. The flavor of bancha is quite different as well. While sencha is stronger on these steamed vegetable taste profiles, the flavor of Bancha rests more on these notes of warm wood, cereal and popcorn. There is a slight hint of these more citrusy flavors, but they are not too sharp on the palate. Bancha makes for a good snacking tea, as it pairs well with things like nuts and popcorn. This tea is commonly drunk after a meal to help with digestion.

The third tea on our list is hojicha. This is a roasted tea that was discovered in the 20th century, as tea producers again wanted to make sure they could get the most out of their harvest. This tea is also made from the older leaves of the tea plant, but they are roasted in order to give them warmer tasting notes of coffee, caramel or even chocolate. The leaves are either turned in a roasting machine or in a large hot pan until they are all fully roasted. The leaves change from green to brown, and the color of the brewed tea now becomes a reddish brown. This tea becomes more popular in the fall and winter months, and in some parts of Japan you can even see them roasting hojicha at street markets. The tea is still drunk in the summer and is especially enjoyed as a cold brew. The cold water extracts more of the sweeter caramel notes from the tea, making a nice refreshing drink for a hot day. 

Next we have Kukicha, a tea made by combining stems with tea leaves. This tea was a discovery made by farmers, as they had to sell all the tea leaves they produced and were only left with the stems. They found that these worked quite well when infused, and soon began experimenting with different types of stem teas. Now stem teas have become more appreciated, with some even preferring them because of their mild, straw flavor. The stems of the tea plant do not produce nearly as much caffeine as the leaves, so these kukicha teas are known for being low in caffeine. Karigane is a more premium stem tea thats made from the stems and leaves of shaded tea plants, like those used for Gyokuro. This tea takes on a much sweeter flavor, and works great as a cold brew.

Finally we have the fifth tea on our list and that is latte grade matcha. While premium ceremonial grade matcha is quite expensive, this matcha used for lattes Is quite affordable. A good way to get into the world of matcha is to begin by experimenting with lattes and this is the perfect matcha for that. It has a slightly stronger flavor that can be tasted through the oatmilk, giving you a nice balance between the smooth creamy flavors and the more vegetal flavors of the matcha. Once you start to like the flavors of these matcha lattes, you can always substitute it for more premium matchas later on. The latte grade matcha is also lower in caffeine, so you can drink it throughout the day rather than just in the morning.

If you’re looking to try incredible Japanese green teas at a good price, we recommend you sign up for the monthly tea club. You’ll get our best teas delivered at a 16% discount and you’ll get a free teapot to prepare them all in. This is the perfect way to begin your journey into Japanese green tea, especially if you’re on a budget.

Thank you all so much for reading this article. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. Until then, we’ll see you next time.