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Japan concentrates it's production largely on green tea, most of which is consumed by the Japanese themselves. What little escapes the island varies greatly in quality but at its best it has the most exquisitely sweet, fresh flavour and strong aroma. Japanese green teas are quite distinct from those produced in China in a number of ways. Japanese teas are steamed immediately after picking, whereas Chinese teas are pan fried, which allows a little oxidation that imparts a very different flavour. Japanese teas therefore have a much more intense flavour, tend to be darker in colour and have a very similar appearance across the varieties. There are a great number of different growing areas in Japan as might be expected from the country that refined tea drinking into a ceremonial art form. Japan is famous for its 'Gyokuro' teas which are shaded with black curtains prior to picking to increase chlorophyll content and reduce tannin. The dark green leaves impart a sweeter flavour to the cup and more theanine. Gyokuro tea is also ground into powder to make the famous ceremonial tea, 'Matcha'. We have experienced a great surge in sales after newspaper reports linking it with many health benefits. If we are to believe the claims made for tea drinking it does seem logical that consuming the whole leaf, as is done with Matcha, would boost benefits considerably. The other major type of tea is called 'Sencha' and this comes in all sorts of qualities, with a wide variety of flavours. This makes up the major part of Japan's entire crop, which makes up just 7% of the world's green tea production.