Japanese people love tea. In Japan it's impossible not to notice in the supermarkets and convenience stores the huge variety of tea flavored products, there are also vending machines in every corner all over the country and in almost all of them you can find at least one option of the beverage. The Japanese made tea drinking a form of art it's worth to see the most popular flavors among them.
1- Macha (Powdered Green Tea)
Macha is by far the most famous variety of all, this is the kind of tea used in the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony, it consists in the leaves from the top of Camellia sinensis plant grinded until becomes a fine powder that it is whipped with hot water using a bamboo whisk to make a foamy cup of the green beverage. As the leafs are used as a whole, all the medicinal properties are preserved giving to Macha the deserved fame of being the most healthful form of tea consumption.
Macha flavored sweets are considered very elegant and is a good idea for a tasteful gift, macha is also a popular flavor of ice cream and Kakigori (japanese-style shaved ice).
2- Sencha (Regular Green Tea)
Sencha is the non-grinded and non-roasted Camellia sinensis leaves, is the cheapest and the most popular way to drink green tea in Japan. In almost all Japanese homes you can find the little porcelain kettle to prepare Sencha. In most of Japanese workplaces there are a serving machine with sencha option and if it's not enough, you can always find another variety in a nearby vending machine. You will never run out options of Sencha in Japan.
3- Oolong cha (Black Dragon Tea)
Oolong is a chinese-style infusion made of the same plant of Sencha, but it is withered under the sun to produce different levels of oxidation. In Japan the most popular are the highly oxidated variations with the characteristic dark color. Due to it's strong taste Oolong cha is usually consumed during meals.
4- Hojicha (Japanese-style Roasted Tea)
Hojicha is also made of the same plant of Sencha (Camellia sinensis) roasted in porcelain pots over charcoal in high temperature. This process lowers the level of catechins creating a mild flavor appreciated for many as an everyday drink.
5- Mugicha (Roasted Barley Tea)
Mugicha is a very popular summer drink in Japan, usually served iced (I've never saw anybody drinking hot Mugicha) and in large amounts is a healthy way to hydrate yourself in hot weather.
In Japan or not, in hot or cold weather it's always good have a cup of Japanese tea. Try it.