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March 11, 2014

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Amount of Caffeine In Green Tea

I always get the question about caffeine in green tea. Also along with that question, I get questions if its okay for pregnant women to drink green tea, so I have gathered these two questions to this single blog post.


How much caffeine in green tea

Actually caffeine is very low compared to coffee, it’s about 1/3rd of coffee and slightly less than black tea. Within Japanese green tea caffeine varies, high end Japanese teas (Matcha, High-end Sencha, and Gyokuro) are said to have higher caffeine. On the other hand, Genmaicha and Houjicha teas are said to have lower caffeine than green tea. 



Can Pregnant Woman Drink Japanese Green Tea?

The jury still is out on this issue. Some amount of caffeine from any caffeine-containing beverage consumed by a pregnant woman would transfer to the fetus, who do not have the ability to break down the caffeine. For this reason, some say that caffeine has negative effect on an unborn child. On the other hand, some scholars say that this would happen only with a large amount of tea. In Japan, most obstetricians and gynecologist say that one or two cups of green tea a day should not cause any issues in a pregnant woman. Some tea stores in Japan even recommend green tea to pregnant women because of the iron included in green tea. If you are pregnant and plan to drink green tea, we always recommend that you consult with your doctor first.

Thank you for reading:)



August 15, 2013

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Tea Variation

There are many many teas in the world. Teas such as Black tea, Chinese tea, and Japanese green tea comes from the same tea leaf, the Camellia Sinensis. Depending on how you process and cultivate it, the tea will change to Black, Green, or Oolong tea.


1. Fermented or Not?
First major process that makes the crucial difference is if you ferment the tea leaf or not. If you do, it will become a Black Tea and if it’s half-fermented it will become Chinese Oolong/Pouchang Tea. If you do not ferment but steam it, it will become the Japanese green tea.


2. Shade Grown or Not?
As for the steamed tea leaf(Japanese green tea), if the teas are grown under the shade it will become Gyokuro, Kabusecha or Tencha, which is the loose leaf version of Matcha. These shade grown green teas are under the shade from 7-30 days before the harvest. Depending on the variety and the region, the period grown under the shade will vary.If it is grown under the sun, it will become the most commonly known green tea, the Sencha, Tama-ryokucha, and Bancha. In most case Bancha is used to make Houjicha and Genmaicha. Houjicha is a tea that has roasted the Bancha loose leaf, and the Genmaicha is a tea that is mixed with roasted brown rice and Sencha/Bancha.


3. So where does the ShiZen Tea fit in?
Our product fits under the following category:

– Matcha → Sakura Komachi
- Sencha Powder → Organic Green Tea Powder, Pesticide-Free Green Tea Powder
- Genmaicha Powder → Organic Genmaicha Powder

So you can see that Sakura Komachi is a tea that are grown under the shade, and Organic Green Tea Powder and Organic Genmaicha Powder are teas that are grown under the sun.

It is very interesting how the same type of tea leaf can change the teas so much depending on how it’s processed and cultivated. Hope you had a chance to learn something new:)

Thank you and enjoy your teas!

August 09, 2013

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What Kind of Water to Use

In general, it is said that tea is approximately 98% water. For that reason, what kind of water you use is very crucial. The hardness of water determines the taste of the teas. Of course, when drinking tea it all comes down to whether you like it or not. So some of the things I mention may not be the best taste for you, but it is something that is considered in Japan when making a nice cup of tea. My suggestion is not be that tense about the water but it is good to know that water does to teas. I would like to go through briefly what hard water is and what is the best for Japanese green tea.
What is hard/soft water?
Hard water is a water that has high mineral content, and soft water is a water that has less mineral content. This will depend which region the water comes from. In general, water from Japan is soft and water from Europe are hard. In the states it will depend on which part of the country the water comes from.The water hardness depends on the land form. As water moves through that land’s soil and rock, it dissolves small amount of minerals and carries them around, and this amount of mineral determines the hardness.As I mentioned Japan is said to be soft water(less mineral). Since it is an island that is filled with mountains and hills, due to gravity, water goes through the soil and rock in a very short time. In addition, Japan’s land forms are said to lack in minerals to begin with because the it is in the volcanic areas (volcanic areas does not carry much minerals).On the other hand, Europe’s land has many limestone terrain, which is rich in minerals. In addition, the land is more flat compared to Japan and the water takes more time going through the soils and rocks dissolving abundant minerals.
Is there a clear criteria for hard and soft water?
Since I am not a scientist, I will not get into how it is calculated, if there’s other ways of calculating etc..
Just to say briefly, it is the amount of the calcium and magnesium dissolved in water. In the states, there is a standard that is set by the United States Geological Survey* that breaks down water into four categories. 
1. Soft (0-60mg/L)
2. Moderately hard (61-120mg/L)
3. Hard (121-180mg/L)
4. Very hard (181mg/L or more)
This is the standard currently that is used in Japan too.
The best part of Japanese tea is to enjoy the balance of the deep umami and the little bit of bitterness. The water hardness that brings out this perfect balance of this is said to be from 30 to 80mg/L. If it is too soft, the bitterness will come out too strong. On the other hand, if the water is too hard there will be no bitterness.
So which water should I use?
If you can find out if your region’s tap water is within the 30-80mg/L range and safe, I believe it will be the best to use tap water by boiling it. If not, we will recommend to use bottled water especially for making iced type green teas.
We have made a chart below for reference. It is a hardness comparison chart of bottled water by brands. We were not sure what brands are popular in the states, so we have randomly picked the popular ones in Japan. As a result, I think it is the best to use Crystal Geyser or Volvic for Japanese green tea. I personally use Crystal Geyser when drinking cold teas. For hot water, I always boil tap water, since Japan’s tap water is relevantly soft. 
*Please keep in mind that you may have the same water brand in your country, but it may not be sourced from the same place as the ones sold in Japan. Major water bottle companies some times have several sources and I am sure that when sources changes the hardness will change too. Please keep in mind that hardness may vary in your country although its the same brand.
Depending on what region you live, the water will vary, and also what kind of bottled water you can purchase may vary too. If you have time, we would recommend to check out the hardness and look for the right water to get the best taste.I understand that it may be a little too much to get into the details of what water you use, but in Japan it is a quite important criteria when making a tasty cup of tea.Hope you found a whole new perspective about teas.
Thank you for reading:)
July 26, 2013

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Difference between Instant Green Tea and Powdered Green Tea

Instant Green Tea and Green Tea Powder

We sometimes get the question what is the difference between instant green tea and green tea powder. They are VERY different: the production method, ingredients, taste, how it dissolves in water, etc. Since these two are totally different things, I thought it will be important to share what the difference are and have a deeper understanding of what you are drinking.


1. Production Method

  • Instant teas are once brewed and extracted into liquid form. Then it is made into a concentrate and dried into powder form.
  • Powdered green teas are simply loose leaf teas that are grounded into fine powder. Ceremonial grade matcha uses traditional stone mill to make the fine ground powder.

2. Health Benefits

Instant teas are once put into liquid form and the amount of nutrients is said to be the same as the brewed green tea. On the other hand, green tea powder is simply fine powder of loose leaf teas that you can take in the nutrients of the whole leaf. It is said the nutrients and health substance in  brewed tea is one third of the green tea powder.

3. Solubility

The good part of instant green tea is that it will immediately dissolve in water with no sediment. On the other hand, green tea powder will not dissolve in tea as well as instant green tea. Since it is pure tea leaf with no additives it is likely to have some sediments.

4. Ingredients

Instant teas will include preservatives such as maltodextrin, citric acid, etc to make it easier to dissolve in water. As mentioned, green tea powder will not have any additives or preservatives, just simply tea leaf for the ingredient.

I have put together an info-graphic, hope you can see the difference from the following:

Hope you now have a better understanding about the teas!

Just to mention, our green tea powder that are sold in our store all have no preservatives, additives, or anything. Please visit our Organic Green Tea Store!

Thank you 

July 24, 2013

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Difference between Matcha and Green Tea (Sencha) INFOGRAPHIC

Some people may already know this, but this is one of the most frequently asked questions I get quite often from my customers. Yes, there is a BIG difference between these two, matcha vs green tea sencha. 

What is Green Tea Sencha?

First, I would like to go over what is “Green Tea Sencha”. Green Tea Sencha is a green tea that is processed by an unique style (steaming process) that was created in Japan. This initial steaming step imparts the difference between Chinese and Japanese green tea. In most parts of the world, Japanese teas are most likely to be sencha (of course sometimes it will be Gyokuro or Matcha etc.), and they are generally named “green tea.”


Matcha vs Green Tea Sencha

Please keep in mind that this is not the only answer to this topic. Having many differences, I have tried to make it simple as possible, and tried to pick the one essential difference that makes these two teas different. I have challenged to make my own infographic, which I think is pretty self explanatory..I hope.


Just to let you know that our Organic Sencha Green Tea Powder are powder form of the Sencha, not Matcha.

As for Matcha, it will be a Organic Matcha from the south side of Japan, Kagoshima.

If there is any questions or comments please feel free to mention!

Thank you:)