Japan is one of the few tea-producing countries, which is forced to import tea because of theconstant growth in domestic demand.

On the main island Hunshu, as well as on the smaller islands Shikoku and Kyushue, almost all plantations traditionally grow green tea; these teas vary widely, but all of them present a fresh, clear character. The main harvesting period is between April and September. The very few, select export qualities are, therefore, very popular.
After China, Japan has the oldest tea culture of the world. Sometime in between the 6th and the 9th century, Buddhist monks are said to have brought tea from China to the islands. Tea became available to the people only in the 16th century, as prior to that, it was reserved for the imperial court only. Japan started to export its teas only around the middle of the 18th century. In Japan, tea is not fermented. Right after the arrival in the tea factory, the leaves are steamed in order to stop oxidation by the natural enzymes present in the leaves and to fix the green colour. According to the quality, the leaves are either hand- or machine-rolled afterwards.

Unlike in Japan, Chinese tea gardens do not use steam in their traditional green tea production. The deactivation of the enzymes, which are in charge of the fermentation process, is reached by a short roasting (pan-fi red tea).

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