Pan-Fired vs Steamed Green Tea

by Sugimoto Tea Company
Sugimoto Tea News, Tea Guides

Green tea production involves preventing oxidation, a process known as "kill-green," which distinguishes green tea from oolong or black tea. Two primary methods to achieve this are pan-firing and steaming. While pan-firing is the most commonly used method to perform the kill-green process in China and the rest of the world, Japan predominantly relies on steaming for green tea production. That’s not to say that the pan-firing method is new to Japan, as it found its way to Japan from China in the 1500s through Kyushu, where pan-firing remains prevalent. Excitingly, we've introduced our first-ever pan-fired tea, the Single Cultivar Kamairicha Sa Midori, for a limited time.

In this blog post, we will explore the distinctions between pan-fired and steamed green teas. It's essential to understand that these differences are not absolute and can vary based on the type of green tea, the cultivation region, and the processing techniques employed.


Pan-Fired Green Tea

Pan-fired green teas have a traditional process that involves gently roasting tea leaves in a hot pan or wok, though modern production employs large heated iron machines. This method imparts a unique aroma and flavor profile to these teas. The pan-firing process includes several stages: pan firing, rough rolling, kneading, final rolling, and drying.

Steamed Green Tea

Steaming is the predominant method used in Japan for green tea production. The steaming process comprises various steps, such as steaming, primary drying, rolling, secondary drying, final rolling, and drying. Japanese green teas can be categorized into three levels of steaming: asamushi (light-steamed), chumushi (medium-steamed), and fukamushi (deep-steamed).

  • Asamushi (Light-steamed): Steamed for approximately 20-30 seconds, resulting in more intact leaves and a lighter, grassy taste.
  • Fukamushi (Deep-steamed): Shizuoka, the location of our headquarters, is renowned for fukamushi style tea, where the leaves are steamed for 40-60 seconds Fukamushi has smaller leaves due to extended steaming which breaks up the cell walls and causes the leaf to fall apart, resulting in a deeper taste and color.

Chumushi (Medium-steamed): Leaves in chumushi teas are somewhat broken but not as much as in fukamushi teas. The flavor and color fall between the other two steaming levels.


Steamed green tea leaves typically exhibit a dark green color, are often flat or needle-shaped, and are delicate and relatively small. The brewed liquid typically boasts a vibrant green hue. In contrast, pan-fired green tea leaves may appear darker or have a yellow-green tint, featuring a curly shape. The resulting liquor tends to have a more yellow color.

Flavor Profiles

Pan-fired green teas offer a smoother, nuttier flavor with roasty aromas that evoke warmth and comfort, making them a popular choice during cooler seasons. Steamed green teas provide a crisper, grassy or vegetal taste, often accompanied by subtle astringency, lending a refreshing quality to the brew.

Sugimoto Tea's Kamairicha

Our Kamairicha is grown by a local farmer and good friend of the Sugimoto family, Jun Watanabe, who you may remember as the man behind our Japanese Oolong. Located near the Ojiro River, in the semi-mountainous area of Kanaya, his farm is blessed with several geographical features that provide it with favorable conditions for growing tea. Always willing to undertake something new and different, this Kamairicha intimately expresses farmer Jun Watanabe’s pride in his ability to utilize traditional farming techniques while continuing to research and test new farming methods. Our Single Cultivar Kamairicha Sa Midori represents our dedication to supporting innovative and passionate farmers, inviting you to explore a distinctive and delightful tea experience.

Brewing Our Single Cultivar Kamairicha Sa Midori

Amount of tea3g (1 Tbsp)
Amount of water6oz
Brew time2 min

Both pan-fired and steamed green teas possess unique characteristics that cater to different tastes and preferences. Whether you savor the smooth, nutty warmth of pan-fired green tea or the crisp, refreshing notes of steamed green tea, there's a world of flavor to explore within the realm of green teas. We invite you to experience our limited-time offering, the Single Cultivar Kamairicha Sa Midori, and discover the distinctive allure of pan-fired green tea for yourself.

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