Japan first saw tea along with another famous Chinese export, Buddhism. Buddhist monks brought tea, tea culture and ultimately tea plants to Japan late in the sixth century. It was not until the twelfth century that tea drinking was embraced by the Japanese citizenry. Today nearly all tea grown in Japan is green tea. It can be separated into three grades; Gyokura, Sencha and Bancha.
This Fukujyu is in the sencha category and is rated as one of the better export sencha teas. The green leaf which goes into this tea only comes from the first and second flush. Additionally the plucking cycle for this tea during the 1st and 2nd flush is every 4 days. This produces a tea that is mainly comprised of young tender shoots. After plucking the tea is steamed to denature it and stop any possibility of fermentation. After the steaming process the tea is rolled and pan-fired. (You can see the effects of the pan firing - the leaves take on a sheen). Sencha tea generally yields clear, pale-green cups that carry many of the same vegetal, grassy notes common to all Japanese teas. Historically this taste was not popular among westerners, but in the past 10 years or so western tastes have begun to embrace the taste and the commensurate health benefits of Japan’s green teas.
Traditional brewing of green tea at 180’F for 2 to 3 minutes yields about 15 - 25 milligrams of caffeine per 6 ounce cup compared to 30-45 mg for black tea (if black tea is brewed with boiling water - 212’F). While green tea is generally thought to contain less caffeine per cup, this is only true if it is brewed in the traditional green tea method because more caffeine is released the hotter the water.
Hot tea brewing method: When preparing by the cup, this tea can be used repeatedly - about 3 times. The secret is to use water that is about 180’F or 80’C. Let the tea steep for about 3 minutes and then begin enjoying a cup of enchantment - do not remove the leaves from the cup. Once the water level is low - add more water, and so on and so on - until the flavor of the tea is exhausted. Look at the pattern of the leaves in the brew - they foretell life.
Alternatively as with all top quality teas, scoop 2-4 teaspoons of tea into the teapot, pour in boiling water that has been freshly drawn (previously boiled water has lost most of its oxygen and therefore tends to be flat tasting), steep for 2-4 minutes (to taste), stir (virtually all the leaves will sink), pour into your cup but do not add milk or sugar since green tea is enjoyed ‘straight-up’.
Iced tea brewing method: (to make 1 liter/quart) : Place 6 teaspoons of tea into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Pour 1 1/4 cups of freshly boiled water over the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher straining the leaves. Add ice and top up the pitcher with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste. [A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to double the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted with cold water.]