25 August 2011

Is Japanese green tea safe to drink?

I was watching SBS’s Dateline this past Sunday when I suddenly took notice of an update on Japan’s radiation levels. The report stated that green tea grown in the famous Shizuoka prefecture was testing positive for high levels of radiation. Since I had just enjoyed some great Japanese green tea the day before, it got me thinking about alternatives to Japanese green teas grown in Shizuoka, especially its famous Sencha tea.

Although many types of famous Japanese green teas, including Sencha, Matcha and Genmaicha are grown in the Shizuoka region, other Japanese green teas such as Gyokuro, are grown in the Fukuoka and Kyoto prefectures. Gyokuro is very similar in taste to Sencha, with a sweet, grassy flavour. As far as I could tell, radiation hasn’t affected this area, so Gyokuro is a great alternative to Sencha tea. You can find it at most tea shops, especially Taka Tea Garden.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Australia, you can also buy Australian-grown Sencha. This green tea is grown in Victoria and sold at The Tea Centre. The flavour is a bit richer and less grassy than Sencha, but very tasty!

The other alternative of course is to drink Chinese green teas, such as the famous Longjing or Dragonwell tea. Although I personally don’t find Chinese green teas as grassy as Japanese greens, their fuller body and rich, buttery texture make them some of my favourites! You can buy online at My Tea House.