I have long believed that Japan makes the best iced tea. When i visited there in 2005, I tried a great many different iced teas from vending machines and 7/11 to hand-prepared in high class restaurants and izakaya. Actually, that was so long ago I don’t remember which was the best… but I know Japan is where I fell in love with tea. It’s kind of ubiquitous there, and temple tea is something i’ll always think of nostalgically.
Although it’s more expensive than domestic products, when I’m in the mood for it, I enjoy Japanese iced teas such as UCC Ueshima (of Kobe)’s canned green tea. On UM’s North Campus there’s a cute little sushi takeout bar that sells canned green tea, and if i’m lucky enough to be in the area before they close at 3PM, I can snag some fabulous iced tea. UCC’s Green Tea is a decent quality ryoukucha with high antioxidants, and the only additive is asorbic acid as a preservative. It has a lovely crisp taste when chilled that rivals the more expensive Itoen and Sangaria bottled teas. I’d love to reheat it and see what it does, but I haven’t tried that just yet. Obviously Japanese green tea has a good deal of caffeine, but surprisingly unless we’re talking about matcha, it still tends to be less than most coffees. A couple years back we had a lovely Japanese bakery in Ann Arbor called “Cafe Japon” that offered the most incredible Japanese tea I’ve ever experienced. Although they still sell their breads at the farmers market, I haven’t seen the owner Keiko-sensei in years. I really need to thank her for giving me such an eye-opening introduction to fine Shizuoka Japanese teas and teawares.