4 Seasons of Tea - Best Tea for Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring
There is a Japanese green tea for every season of the year. Whether you need a cool refreshing drink in the summertime or something warm and comforting in the winter, we’re going to help you find the perfect tea to match the season. In this article, we’re going to take you through the seasons and give you the perfect Japanese green tea to match each occasion.
Best tea for Summer
Let’s start things off with everyone's favorite season - summer. Because the weather is so warm, summertime is usually when people drink the least amount of tea. Most people think of tea as a hot beverage, but in reality it can be prepared both hot and cold.
Cold brewing can be a great way to enjoy tea when the weather gets warmer. The cool water also extracts the sweeter and fruitier flavors of the tea leaves, without extracting as much of the bitterness. What gives the tea its bitter flavor is the catechins, which are extracted at hotter temperatures and during longer brewing times. By cold brewing the tea, you leave more of the catechins in the leaves, leading to a sweeter and smoother taste overall.
To cold brew, all you need to do is put 5 grams of leaves into a pitcher, pour in 500ml of water and let the leaves sit for between 1 and 3 hours. After the time is up you can pour out the delicious cold brewed green tea into your cup. You can experiment with using less water if you prefer the flavor to be stronger, or you can use more leaves and make a larger portion to drink throughout the day.
When it comes to the best teas for cold brew, we like to recommend the Shizuku sencha. This tea is made by adding matcha powder to sencha leaves. The matcha powder is released into the water in the first infusion to create a beautiful cloudy green color and a sweet and fruity taste.
While a lot of cold brewed teas lack the raw strength of hot brewed teas, the Shizuku sencha is the exception. Even with a short steeping time you get a flavor that is not only smooth, but also rich and complex. This makes the Shizuku sencha the perfect tea for summer time.
Best tea for Fall
As the weather begins to get cooler and the days begin to get shorter, your tastes will no doubt change and you may be looking for a different kind of tea for the fall. The leaves used to produce sencha, gyokuro and matcha tea have been harvested in the springtime and what is left later on in the year is a tea known as bancha.
Bancha is a tea made from the older, tougher leaves of the tea plant. Because these leaves are tougher, they don’t need to produce as much caffeine to defend themselves against insects, so bancha becomes a low caffeine tea.
This lower caffeine content is perfect for the fall. As the sun begins to set earlier in the day, you may want a low caffeine in the afternoon so you can get to sleep earlier. You may also want a tea that pairs well with certain afternoon snacks.
Bancha has a much more mild flavor compared to other types of Japanese green teas. The older leaves produce more of these wooden and cereal flavors which can be quite soothing. The bancha also pairs well with foods like popcorn and mixed nuts because the flavors can be quite similar. The tea is also thought to help with digestion, so many people like to drink it with or after a meal.
When the weather is too cold to sit outside, it can be great to treat yourself to a nice tea and food pairing, and bancha is the perfect tea for that, particularly in the fall.
Best Tea for Winter
During the coldest season of the year, you really need a tea that can warm you up. While most types of Japanese green teas produce more of a cooling sensation, Hojicha is the exception. Hojicha is a roasted tea, made from the roasted leaves and stems of the tea plant.
Although the color of the leaves and the infusion make it appear to be a type of black tea, it is actually a type of green tea. The leaves go through the same steaming and drying process as other types of Japanese green teas, but then the leaves are roasted before being packaged.
This roasting process creates a profound change in the leaves. First off, the leaves change from green to brown, which is why hojicha is immediately identifiable when it's next to other types of Japanese green tea. Instead of a vibrant green color, the infusion now becomes a reddish brown, very similar to a black tea.
The roasting process also eliminates a lot of the catechins in the leaf, so rather than a citrusy astringency, the tea takes on warmer notes of coffee, caramel and chocolate. Depending on the types of leaves used, the flavor can go into different directions. The kuki hojicha for example takes on more of these black coffee flavors, due in part to the use of stems in the production. The noike hojicha takes on more of these caramel and chocolate notes, which is why we recommend this tea for beginners.
After a long, cold day it can be nice to curl up inside with a good book and a nice warming tea like hojicha. Not only is the flavor warming and soothing, but it's also rich. Really take your time with this tea and savor it throughout the winter season. When the weather gets warmer you may miss these cozy hojicha afternoons.
Best tea for Spring
As the days begin to get longer and the weather begins to get warmer, you may be searching for a more traditional green tea, with these fresher and greener taste profiles. The final tea on our list is the perfect choice for that!
The springtime is something everyone looks forward to, but Japanese tea lovers are especially excited for springtime because of the Shincha. Shincha is the first tea to be harvested at the beginning of the year. This is usually done in late march or early april, but can vary due to the weather conditions from year to year, as well as the location within Japan.
Shincha is the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of spring. People used to wait patiently all year to become the first to get the fresh harvest. Nowadays, shincha is not quite as sought after because modern refrigeration can keep the tea fresher for longer. That being said, shincha still is the perfect tea to kick off the spring.
Throughout the winter, the tea plant draws nutrients from the soil and released them into the fresh sprouts in the early spring. These sprouts are the highest in nutrients, and many consider them to have the smoothest and sweetest taste.
The flavor of shincha is strong on these steamed vegetable and spring grass notes, but it is well balanced with a smooth sweetness and a tiny bit of this savory or umami flavor. Farmers like Mr. Kawaji choose to steam their shincha teas for a longer time. This accentuates these more vegetal flavors while reducing some of the bitterness. This is why the Asatsuyu shincha has such a vibrant green color and powerful flavor.
No matter what time of year you drink shincha, it is a fantastic tea, but it is especially good in the springtime. It’s hard to think of a better way to pay tribute to all the new life that pops up in springtime by enjoying a tea made from the freshest sprouts of the tea plant.
No matter what season you find yourself reading this, I hope you are able to find a wonderful tea to enjoy. There is no wrong season for tea, you just need to experiment with a few different ones to find the one you like. If you are interested in trying any of these teas, no matter what the season is, it would really mean a lot to us if you could support us by trying the teas, and staying tuned for future tea articles. Until then, we’ll see you next time!