I’ve been a regular tea drinker for about sixteen years.
My preferences have changed along the way. You can probably relate to my experience.
My first contact with real tea
While I was living in Japan I tried green tea and liked it.
I could tell that what I had drank before could hardly compare to a good quality tea, but I still didn’t drink tea so often.
Then a friend gave me a gift: loose leaf genmaicha.
It was the first time that I saw a loose leaf tea. Before that, I had experienced teabags and bottled tea. When I did drink high quality tea, it had been served to me, so I had only seen the liquid but not the leaves.
Genmaicha is a great Japanese tea for beginners. Most people like it as soon as they try it.
I realized that there was more pleasure in preparing it yourself than just drinking it. The reason is that the aroma of the wet leaves enhances the experience.
At the time I didn’t have Japanese friends that were really into tea, unfortunately. So some years passed without me knowing what tea really was, but I drank it more often.
One time I went with my friends to a tea house in Japan that had teas from all over the world. We drank about four of them, I believe that most were Chinese teas.
It was still not enough to get me into tea, but I was surprised to learn that there was a bigger variety of tea than I thought.
By the way, I have never liked flavored tea, or any tea blend besides genmaicha. And since flavored tea isn’t as common in Asia as it is in the West, it wasn’t available to me anyway.
Becoming a tea blogger
I don’t know exactly when, but I became curious about tea and decided to start my blog on Japanese tea.
At the time most of the tea blogs seemed to focus more on Chinese tea, so I wanted to do something different.
The advantage I had was that I could read Japanese articles about tea. Although I didn’t live in Japan anymore, I could learn in a more direct way than if I only read what was available in English.
By then I had drank a lot of different teas, mostly Japanese ones.
I got into sencha, tried matcha but felt it was too strong for my taste, and also couldn’t understand gyokuro because I thought that it tasted weird.
As the tea blog grew, I had more access to tea in the form of samples for the reviews. Little by little, my palate improved.
I did drink other types of tea besides Japanese greens, mostly out of curiosity, but that would be only about 10% of the time.
Another important thing was that I started to buy tea books.
That was when I decided to take the Nihoncha Instructor Association course.
Thanks to that I gained a deeper understanding of Japanese tea.
What I’m drinking now
While I still drink a lot of genmaicha, it’s mainly because my wife loves it.
Likewise, I would drink less matcha in order to concentrate on other teas, but my wife religiously drinks her matcha every morning.
I have tasted teas from all over the world thanks to the World Tea Expo.
After green tea, my second favorite is oolong, and third place would be black and dark teas.
I don’t know much about yellow tea because it is uncommon, and I feel that white tea is too light for my taste.
Regarding dark tea, I prefer the Japanese ones because they are easier for me to understand. They are more straightforward than Chinese ones.
Pu-erh is very interesting, but I feel that it’s such a hassle to become proficient in it. It would take me a lot of time and money that I would rather use in green tea.
I love gyokuro now, because I enjoy its umami taste. However, it doesn’t have as much variety as sencha.
Kukicha is also something I drink occasionally. About twice a week.
Nowadays I rarely drink bancha, which was something that I liked when I started out. Houjicha is a good alternative, especially served cold or at night because of its low caffeine content.
I would love to enjoy single cultivar sencha everyday, but it’s not widely available yet.
But I still love to review Japanese teas, no matter what type they are.
What type of teas do you drink nowadays?
October 6, 2019
Kukicha and Houjicha are great favorites thanks to their earthly, woody and smokey flavor, without getting to confusing like some smoked Chinese teas do. I used to love Lapsang souchong for example (bagged from twinnings, since i have no Chinese loose leaf tea dealer) but now i mostly alternate between houjicha, kukicha and as you mentioned, genmaicha. Although i don’t quite like when they add matcha, i like it a little lighter. Overall, and apart from that, my all time favorite is sencha or a nice mid-to-high quality of green leaved tea. Most of these varieties I’ve gotten from you, so you are more than familiar with those teas.
Thanks! and keep it up! looking forward for a next batch of products!
October 7, 2019
Thank you for your comment Daniel, good to know that you enjoy the teas that I showed you.
April 9, 2021
Great topic for an article! I actually liked Hojicha and Bancha best when I started with Sugimoto Tea Co, and didn’t like sencha or gyokuro. My boss said that I was lucky I liked cheap tea! Since then, of course, I’ve grown to love sencha most among Japanese teas and come to really enjoy gyokuro as well. Now, I mostly drink wakoucha though and Chinese black teas. And I agree, puer has to be the most expensive and difficult to enter tea, full of counterfeits and false claims. I would rather drink straightforward teas where I can easily find quality and don’t have to worry about being ripped off.
April 9, 2021
Nice to see you in the comments again. I still don’t drink much black tea, but I agree that there are excellent Chinese black teas.