In Japan, the various types of tea now produced differ according to cultivation practices and processing methods. Sencha is a tea with three quality levels: high, medium, and low. It is manufactured from the tender top two leaves and the shoots for the high and medium grades and from the third from the top leaf for the low grade.
Sencha, which comprises 80% of all green tea production, consists of tiny dark green needle-shaped pieces. Almost immediately after picking or plucking, the leaves are steamed for about 30 seconds to seal in the flavour, followed by drying, pressing, and rolling steps.
Gyokura is the highest grade of tea and is made from the most tender leaves that are grown under 90% shade using bamboo lath. Matcha is made from similar leaves and is processed into a powder form for exclusive use in the tea ceremony. For Gyokuro or Matcha tea, the plants are shaded for two weeks after the first bud comes out in spring before plucking. After plucking if all the leaves can be processed at once, the leaves are stored in a large bin that is kept at the proper temperature by blowing cool air into the bottom.
Bancha is a low-grade coarse tea made from older leaves picked after Sencha leaves are picked or picked in the summer. It is generally composed of lower grade tea leaves, which are divided into two kinds: large leaf, and small leaf.
Houjicha is a wedge-shaped tea made from Bancha that is roasted at 302° F (150° C) to prevent fermentation and produces a light golden colour when made. Kamairicha comes from northern Kyushu and is first roasted at 392-572°F (200-300°C) followed by cooling at 212°F (100°C).