Summer is known for sunshine and heat, and the same goes for summers in Japan. Though many people might think of curling up with a warm mug of tea during chillier seasons, cold brewed and iced teas can be delicious and refreshing beverages for the summer.
Chilled teas are not only popular in Japan, certain types of teas are also in season during the summer. Seasonality impacts many areas of Japanese life, including culture and cuisine—which of course encompasses tea as well. Seasonality assures freshness and peak flavor, making for truly tasty teas.
While many teas can be enjoyed both hot and cold, what could be better than a refreshing cup of chilled tea on a warm summer day? Here are our picks for the five best Japanese teas to enjoy during the summer.
Mugicha, or roasted barley tea, is made from unhulled barley that’s roasted until it takes on a warm caramel hue. It’s then steeped in boiled water and allowed to cool to room temperature before being pored over ice or going into the fridge to chill. Mugicha is also available in tea bags for cold brewing or simmering. Mugicha is a popular summer drink among various age groups and a refrigerator staple in countries across East Asia, including China, Japan, North and South Korea, and Taiwan. This golden colored tea is more savory than sweet, boasting a toasty taste with slightly bitter undertones. A touch of sugar can be added to suit individual tastes, but Mugicha is delicious unsweetened too.
White Peach Cold Brew Tea
What fruit screams sunshine and summer more than a peach? Though white peach tea can be made with a variety of base teas—like white, black, and/or green—it’s the infusion of fruity white peach flavor that gives this drink its allure.
White Peach Cold Brew Tea is super refreshing on a hot summer day thanks to its naturally delicate sweetness and fresh, peachy aroma. Though it takes a little time to brew, this fruity tea is certainly worth the wait.
Mizudashicha is the perfect mix of sencha green tea and matcha. Sencha, one of the most popular Japanese teas, is harvested from the upper leaves and buds of the plant before it’s steamed to make fresh, “green” tasting tea. Meanwhile, matcha is made from finely ground young tea leaves. The best of both worlds, Mizudashicha makes a pretty light yellow-green colored tea.
Mizudashicha means “infusing with cold water.” As the name implies, no boiling water is needed to make this tea—but of course, cold brewing does take some time.
Iced Green Tea Powder
Renowned for its beautiful color and fresh, earthy taste, green tea from the Shizuoka Prefecture is some of the country’s finest. Shizuoka produces almost half of Japan’s green tea. The area’s warm climate and water quality make the perfect growing conditions for this kind of tea.
Although it looks similar to matcha, being that they are both green tea powders, this tea doesn’t require whisking or boiling water. In fact, iced green tea powder is ready to drink and enjoy as soon as you’re done stirring. Also, again like matcha, tiny particles in your cup are normal—they’re just tiny bits of tea leaves.
Refresh Green Herb Cold Brew Tea
This herbal tea makes a pretty light green beverage when it’s steeped. It’s also caffeine-free and boasts a bright taste and fruity aroma perfect for summertime sipping.
This blended tea combines nettle, elderflower, and lemongrass for a unique flavor. Nettle offers a zingy, rich, “green” flavor, while elderflower brings a light crispness and fragrance, and last—but certainly not least—lemongrass adds a subtle lemony hint. The latter two herbs are also mildly sweet, making for a tasty, refreshing, and well-balanced tea.
Nearly any tea has the possibility of becoming a thirst-quenching summer beverage by changing the way you steep it, though our picks for the five best Japanese teas are crafted with a cold brewing and chilling in mind.