How does this Japanese green tea taste and how do different tea types of this popular brand compare
Itoen’s Oi Ocha (伊藤園お〜いお茶) is marketed as Japan’s number 1 green tea.
While this tea brand (that can also be spelled “Ooi Ocha”) may not be the most exclusive, it provides excellent value for its price and is readily available globally. This makes it an excellent choice for anyone in search of a delicious cup of green tea.
Oi Ocha green tea is available in both teabags and bottled form, and since I enjoy both, I decided to conduct a side-by-side comparison of the different types of tea they offer.
I hope, this helps you get an idea of what to expect from each one!
This post is not sponsored; I purchased all the teas myself, and the opinions and decision to write this post are entirely my own. However, some of the links are affiliates, which means that if you purchase something through them, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Here you can read more about my affiliate policy.
Itoen’s Oi Ocha Green Tea Bags
Ito en sells Oi Ocha green tea in individually sealed tea bags.
These sachets are made of plastic, so unfortunately it might not be the most environmentally friendly option.
However, from a taste and durability standpoint, they are air-tight and keep the tea fresh, preventing it from going stale for years.
So in the past, I used to bring some of these individually packaged teabags from every trip to Japan.
However, since Itoen green tea is now available on Amazon in many countries, I no longer need to bring it back from Japan (additionally, my love for tea has evolved, and I often buy more rare teas to try new things, especially since I started this blog!)
But I still have Oi Ocha teabags at home because they are my favorite to take with me to work or when I travel.
I specially love that they also make great cold brew tea, so I just need to put them in any water bottle and leave them for 15 minutes to get delicious and refreshing green tea even when I’m on the go!
RELATED: How to cold brew green tea
How to prepare Oi Ocha Green Tea Bags
These are the ones you can buy online from many countries.
The cute thing is, these one I got in Germany have haikus (written by consumers) on the back of each sachet.
But don’t worry, even if you don’t understand anything on the package, the instructions for preparing the tea are also written in English.
(Please note that I bought the ones here a couple of years ago; from what I see online, the packaging might be different now)
Using hot water
The package recommendations are:
“Pour 120 ml boiled water and steep 30 seconds. Shake tea bag 5-6 times and remove”
Personally, I don’t use boiling water at 100°C, but instead, I let the water cool down a little bit first.
This is because I find that green tea can become a bit astringent when steeped in rolling water.
Cold brewing Oi Ocha tea bags
The package of the tea I have doesn’t provide instructions for cold brewing, but I typically use 120-200 ml of water per tea bag and let it cold brew for around 15 minutes.
When I am on the go, I put one to two tea bags in a 500 ml water bottle.
The tea from these bags is sencha (Japanese green tea) mixed with some matcha from Uji.
In case you haven’t heard of matcha, it’s a special type of green tea made with leaves that have been shaded.
This results in a tea with a vibrant green color (regular green tea doesn’t really produce a green-colored beverage), with a complex and pleasant taste, and high levels of antioxidants.
Matcha is considered a higher-end tea as regular green tea and tea from the region of Uji has a specially high reputation.
RELATED: Matcha for Beginners
The resulting tea has a pleasant, very mild bitterness with a deep green tea flavor, but without any grassiness.
Oi Ocha Bottled Tea
Ito-En’s Oi Ocha is also available in bottled form.
Have you ever seen pictures, videos (or in real life) Japanese iconic drink vending machines like this one?
Well, as you can see in the picture above, bottled green tea (marked with a yellow arrow) or also tea in can is among the most popular drinks in them.
Luckily, you will be also able to find Japanese bottled green tea in many Asian supermarkets or online!
At first, I only knew Oi Ocha’s classic bottled green tea, but recently I’ve also come across some new versions.
I tried each of them separately and found them all enjoyable.
So, curious about how they compare, I decided to try them side-by-side along with some home-brewed green tea made from the same brand’s tea bags.
Oi Ocha Unsweetened Green Tea
- The bottle indicates that it’s ryokucha, the Japanese term for green tea.
- The ingredients include green tea (99.9%) and vitamin C (which I assume serves as a preservative).
- The package recommends serving it chilled, and suggests refrigerating and consuming it promptly after opening.
- The bottles I got contain 500 ml (16.9 oz.) and they are not heatable nor microwaveable.
Taste, smell and appearance
- Opening one of these bottles I always get an amazing, comforting smell that reminds me of roasted tea.
- The tea color is quite dark, almost brown.
- The taste is mild and with very little astringency.
Oi Ocha Cold Brew Matcha Green Tea
- These bottles also contain 500 ml (16.9 oz.) and they are not heatable nor microwaveable.
- The bottle’s wrap suggest that the tea is best served cold and advises keeping it in the fridge and drinking it soon after opening.
- This tea is made from green tea (99,5%), matcha powder (0,1%) and vitamin C.
Taste, smell and appearance
- This tea has a fresh smell and has a mild taste, with very little astringency and surprising “sweet” aftertaste (not sweet like sweet tea, but with a very well rounded “umami”).
- The color of the drink is golden brown or amber.
Oi Ocha has bottled tea in other flavors as well, such as Jasmine Green Tea or Genmaicha Tea.
I haven’t tried the Jasmine Tea yet, but I have tried (and enjoyed) their Genmaicha tea.
I just didn’t taste this bottled tea alongside the other Ito-en’s bottled teas because I find its taste different enough form the green teas.
Genmaicha is a blend of green tea with roasted brown rice, and this bottled tea honors that with its roasted aroma and taste.
It’s comforting and has a slight bitterness that makes it very refreshing, while still having a mild taste.
Comparing Oi Ocha bottled tea: Classic Green Tea vs. Cold Brew Matcha
Both teas have a good balance of bitterness in my opinion. My older son enjoys the classic green tea, and he doesn’t like bitter drinks. However, my younger son found it slightly bitter, so it might be on the more bitter side for some. In contrast, he thought that the cold brewed version was not bitter at all, so this one may be less bitter in comparison.
I was pleasantly surprised by the complexity of the classic green tea’s aroma. It had some similarities to hojicha, without any of the grassy notes that some Japanese green teas can have. Personally, I found it very enjoyable.
The Cold Brew Tea has a more traditional green tea aroma, so it’s a matter of personal preference which one you prefer.
Unfortunately, the producer did not specify the caffeine content of the teas. Cold brew tea is generally known to have less caffeine than regularly brewed tea. However, the cold brew tea in this case contains matcha, which is relatively high in caffeine. Therefore, it is difficult to say whether one tea has a significantly lower caffeine content than the other. Personally, I recommend avoiding both teas late in the afternoon if you are sensitive to caffeine.
While the package instructions recommends serving both cold, I find them also very enjoyable at room temperature.
Comparing Bottled Oi Ocha Green tea to Oi Ocha Green Tea Bags
Now, comparing the “regular” Oi Ocha tea bags you can find online to Oi Ocha’s bottled tea.
For this experiment, I prepared the tea bags by cold brewing them in room temperature water (my favorite method) AND also by steeping them in hot water and letting it cool down to room temperature.
The cold brew method produced a bright green color, while the hot water method resulted in a slightly darker shade.
I believe if you prepare the tea with hot water, it might be better to drink the tea warm, but I wanted to see if letting it cool down at room temperature (in other words, letting it oxidase a little) would give the same brownish color as the bottled tea.
This is the first difference you will notice, and it’s significant! The tea you get when steeping Itoen tea bags has a vibrant green color (even when letting it cool down), likely due to the inclusion of matcha. On the other side, as we saw before, neither the bottled green tea nor the cold brew matcha green tea (even with matcha included) had a green color.
RELATED: Why is my green tea brown?
Bottled green tea smelled quite roasted, while the tea bags smell more like ryokucha (regular Japanese green tea). The bottled cold brew tea has a slightly more vegetal aroma.
The taste is also different: the three have similarities because they are all slightly bitter but not too much.
Personally, I found the taste from the tea bags the most enjoyable, but this is totally subjective.
Of course, since these teas are all unsweetened, they are calorie-free.
I found all the teas from Itoen’s Oi Ocha very enjoyable, even when tasting them side by side, making it difficult to choose a favorite.
They are all convenient in their way: the tea bags stay fresh for a really long time, while the tea bottles are great when you want to drink something on the go (they always quench my thirst when I go grocery shopping at the Asian supermarket!).
They all have a very mild bitterness, enough to make them extremely thirst-quenching and still comforting.
And finally, they all smell amazing, so whether you enjoy Japanese tea or are completely new to it, I would recommend giving them a try.