All commercial tea produced in Japan today is green tea, though for a brief period black tea was also produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Japanese tea production is heavily mechanized, and is characterized by the use of modern technology and processes to improve yields and reduce labor. Because of the high cost of labor in Japan, only the highest quality teas are plucked and processed by hand in the traditional fashion.
About 2 weeks before harvest, farmers build structures around the plants to shade them, leaving them almost in the dark. It’s thought that this makes the leaves softer, sweeter, and brighter. After harvest, the tea leaves are quickly steamed, then dried and put into heated ovens for 20 minutes or so. Workers then remove stems, twigs, and other unneeded parts and grind the leaves into powder.
The leaves are used to make a herbal tea that is called by the names: rooibos, bush tea (especially in Southern Africa), or redbush tea (predominantly in Great Britain). The tea has been popular in Southern Africa for generations, but is now consumed in many countries worldwide. It is sometimes spelled rooibosch in accordance with the original Dutch. The tea has a taste and color somewhat similar to hibiscus tea, or an earthy flavor like yerba mate.
Green tea has slightly more antioxidants compared to black tea, although both are still great sources. The ORAC value (antioxidant content) of brewed black tea is 1,128 while green tea is slightly higher at 1,253. Black tea and green tea both contain antioxidants, including polyphenols. Some research shows that green tea contains more than four times the catechins that black tea does. Both types can contribute antioxidants to your diet and have been shown to have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying and immune-stimulating effects.