Sencha is the most renown green tea, made using the most common processing methods. The tea is steamed and then rolled to produce its needle like shape. It is known for is fresh taste with a slight bitterness, from its higher levels of catechins.
Shincha is the first harvest sencha, special because it is the first harvest of the plant after it has been dormant over the winter. It has continued to absorb nutrients into the roots and body of the plant giving the first growth for the spring an abundance of nutrition for its first growth. Shincha achieves a more full bodied flavour from a lower catechin and caffeine content.
Genmaicha is a combination of sencha and roasted rice (genmai nomi). Traditionally roasted rice was added as a filler to make the most of the then expensive sencha, however in modern times it is enjoyed for its more savoury flavour.
Hojicha is gently roasted green tea. Originally produced by using tea that would otherwise be unsuitable to produce sencha, Hojicha was first produced in Kyoto in the 1920's. It has a browner finish than sencha and offers a less astringent, earthier taste compared to sencha.
Matcha is a powdered tea made from stone ground tea. It was brought to Japan from China in 1191 by Buddhist monks. It is made from shade covered tea, similar to Gyokuro, but is not rolled and instead dried flat; becoming Tencha. This aids in the removal of leaf vein and stem, to leave only the leaf to be ground.
Gyokuro is an extremely high quality green tea that is grown under shade for around 30 days prior to picking. With the amount of sunlight reaching the plant reduced, it slows the rate of photosynthesis resulting in higher levels of amino acids, giving this tea a more full bodied, less astringent flavour.