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In 2015, Oliver took a ferry to the mystical island of Yakushima in southern Japan. It was here, amongst the old-growth forests and blankets of fog he discovered something he had rarely seen in Europe - a small tea shop serving premium quality, pesticide free green tea.
Oliver sat down with the farmers, and after drinking just one cup of this delicious green elixir, he knew he needed to find a way to bring it back to Switzerland. It was here, at a small farmers market in Lausanne that Nio Teas was born.
Nio Teas Today
After extremely positive feedback at the farmers markets, Nio Teas started shipping organic Japanese green tea to tea lovers all around the world! They have since become a major player in the tea industry and have built one of the largest tea education platforms in the world, with videos on Youtube, Instagram, Tiktok and more.
“Our role is not only to educate people about tea, but also about all the hard work that goes into producing it.” says Will, a manager of the company's online presence.
Secrets of Nio Tea - Exploring Japan to Learn the Secrets of Tea
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What Makes Nio Teas Unique
While most tea companies try to keep their suppliers a secret, Nio Teas proudly displays the men and women that made the tea in their videos, on the website and even on their packs of tea.
After traveling around Japan for the past few years, the Nio Teas team has met with dozens of farmers and tried hundreds of different kinds of teas to find the very best to offer on their website. They have also developed close relationships with the tea farmers and their families, and they have a strong commitment to showcasing all their hard work.
In addition to offering a great selection of loose leaf teas, Nio Teas also offers authentic matcha powder straight from Japan. So what is matcha exactly? Matcha is essentially made from powdered green tea leaves.
But these aren’t just any tea leaves, they need to go through a long, labor intensive production process in order to achieve the perfect flavor. What does matcha taste like? That depends on what kind you go for!
Matcha for Lattes
Matcha latte powder is a less expensive type of matcha that can be used in all sorts of recipes, from Matcha Lattes to cookies and cakes. This tea is made from later harvests, but even the latte matcha from Nio Teas is produced carefully without the use of pesticides or chemicals.
This matcha takes on a strong flavor, which pairs perfectly with milk and sugar. You can also use these matcha flavors in all sorts of food pairings and recipes, the combinations are endless!
Ceremonial Grade Matcha
To produce premium ceremonial matcha the leaves need to be shaded for 3 weeks before the harvest to improve their flavor. Then, the top 3 sprouts are selected, and they have their stems removed before being ground into a fine powder in a large stone mill.
This creates a tea that is smooth enough to drink plain, without milk or sugar, but it also makes the tea full of caffeine, antioxidants and theanine. Not only does matcha have caffeine but it’s the most caffeinated green tea, with as much as 136mg of caffeine in 4 grams of powder.
Loose Leaf Tea
If you’re wondering what does green tea taste like you’ll have to be more specific! There are many different types of Japanese green tea out there, and they all come with completely different flavors. Nio Teas has made it their mission to scour the islands of Japan to find the very best of each type!
Gyokuro is considered the emperor’s tea, because it was once the tea of choice for the Emperor himself. Gyokuro is one of the hardest teas to produce organically. It goes through a long shading process in order to develop its sweet, savory flavor and high caffeine content.
This puts a lot of stress on the tea plants, and while most farmers resort to chemicals to fix this, talented organic farmers like Mr. Sakamoto have developed innovative ways to produce strong, flavorful tea plants without pesticides or chemicals.
Nio has decided to source all of their Gyokuro tea from him!
Sencha is the most common type of green tea in Japan. The benefits of drinking sencha green tea are numerous, and the taste is absolutely delicious! This tea is made from the young sprouts of the tea plant, after they are steamed, rolled and dried.
Sencha can have a broad spectrum of different taste profiles, depending on how it is grown, picked, steamed and processed. Fukamushi sencha, for example, is steamed for a longer time and it takes on a cloudy green color and a smooth, almost fruity flavor.
Genmaicha is made by mixing green tea leaves with toasted rice. This started as a way to conserve tea during times of famine, but soon people everywhere began to take notice of the genmaicha green tea benefits.
This tea has a warm cereal or nutty flavor profile that is really enjoyable, particularly in the evening. It is low in caffeine so you can drink it later on in the day. It also can be helpful when it comes to fasting, with the flavor being reminiscent to a nice warm bowl of rice.
If you’re looking for a tea that tastes like coffee this is it! Hojicha is a special type of roasted green tea that is popular in Japan. After the leaves are harvested, steamed and dried, they are turned in a large hot pan.
This turns the color of the leaves from green to brown, and the tea begins to pick up much warmer notes of coffee, caramel and chocolate. Hojicha is particularly enjoyable in the colder months, and the flavor makes you want to curl up with a nice book!
Stem tea like kukicha and karigane is also another great discovery. These teas are made by combining the stems and leaves of the tea plant. The stems contain ⅓ the caffeine compared to the leaves.
The stems also have more minerals, and they contribute to a slightly milder hay or straw flavor which can be quite pleasant. This tea is much less expensive, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious!
In addition to selling a lot of normal green tea, Nio Teas also offers fermented tea like the Nadeshiko Rose. This is a very rare type of Japanese tea, and it is made using a similar fermentation method as soy sauce, sake and miso.
This unique fermentation process causes the tea to take on an interesting flavor profile, with notes of strawberry, cinnamon and citrus. It is also pink in color, earning it the nickname “the rosé of tea”
Tea Advent Calendar
The tea advent calendar is a fan favorite at Nio Teas. Every year, the team puts together a collection of their favorite teas corresponding with each day of December leading up to Christmas.
You can wake up every morning to a new Japanese green tea to explore, along with a short poem to help you get into the holiday spirit!
For the real fans out there, Nio Teas also offers a tea subscription box. This is for people that want to try a lot of different teas, while still saving money. Every month, 2-3 packs of premium Japanese green tea will be sent straight to your door at a 16% discount.
With your first month, you’ll also be send a free teapot. This is Nio’s way of making green tea more accessible to people around the world, by providing all the tools you need to start preparing Japanese green tea at home.
In addition to great teas, Nio also provides some top-notch teaware. These tools are carefully crafted in order to bring out the best of each tea!
Kyusu teapots are the perfect way to prepare loose leaf, Japanese green tea. They allow the leaves more space to expand and release their flavor into the cup, leading to a richer brew. They also have a built in filter that sifts out the tea leaves so they don’t end up in your cup.
Finally, the clay itself can improve the flavor of the tea. As the clay interacts directly with the tea, it softens some of its bitterness and enhances the umami flavors.
If you are making matcha, you absolutely need a Chasen. This is the famous whisk carved out of a single piece of bamboo, with 100 small bristles that move through the water to aerate the tea and create a foam.
This foam on the matcha isn’t just for looks, it also gives the tea a smoother texture and a creamier taste. A well-foamed, ceremonial grade matcha can taste almost like a latte but without milk or sugar.
Want to make your own Japanese tea ceremonies at home? You’ll definitely need a matcha kit then! This can include a matcha whisk, clay tea bowl, bamboo whisk holder and chashaku tea scoop.
This can really enhance your matcha making experience, and bring a moment of calm to your otherwise stressful day. Using these utensils can almost be a type of moving meditation, like raking a zen garden, but even better because you get a delicious cup of tea at the end!
Nio Teas’ Blog
Interested in learning about green tea benefits? How about learning why does matcha tea give you energy? The Nio Teas blog is the right place for you! They have hundreds of articles and videos about every question you can possibly ask about green tea.
Education is one of the primary missions of Nio Teas. They hope that by making free tea education readily available to people all over the globe, they can promote a deeper connection between the people that make the tea and the people that enjoy it.