Everyone knows that Japan is awesome, so it should be no surprise that Japanese tea is also awesome. It is. Awesomeness abounds. As far as I know, most of the low-end, mass-produced tea they drink (and they drink a lot) is imported from elsewhere, but the higher-grade orthodox teas grown in Japan are always really great. If ever there was a positive stereotype it's that the Japanese have a knack for making great stuff, be it little toy robots or green tea. Oh, and the girls are all pretty, but that's another post. Anyway, on the surface you won't find a whole lot of variety in their teas -- they're all green and there are only about 5 common types -- but there is a lot of room for subtlety and I challenge you to find a bad one.
Today I'm drinking Gyokuro, which loosely translates to "$$$$" in English. It's the top of the line, and well worth the outlay. If the only green tea you've ever had came from Starbucks then you will be surprised by this. It is so damn green it looks artificial, and it smells kind of like peas & corn, but also like freshly cut grass. Early in the morning, while there's still a little mist in the air. If you do it right, and I will tell you how, there is no bitterness at all.
Boil your water and pour it into your cup or teapot. Leave the lid off, and let it sit there for at least two minutes. Once it has cooled some, add your tea leaves -- I like it pretty strong so I usually use at least a heaping teaspoon per cup, maybe a tiny bit more. Let it steep for 90 seconds, remove the leaves and enjoy. You'll get at least three good brews out of it, maybe more, and you can steep it longer each time.
Lastly, here is a crummy photo I took of this tea. It's made even worse by my half-assed attempt to capture the bounty of tea spilling forth from the bag all cornucopia style. Well, I prefer posts with photos so here it is: