Learn about Sencha, Japan’s most popular green tea. We’ll cover its growth and processing, taste, and health benefits. Whether you’re already a fan of tea or just getting started with Japanese teas, this guide will help you understand and enjoy Sencha.
Sencha, a type of green tea, is appreciated for its rich umami taste and vivid green hue. Its uniqueness among green teas lies in the method of steaming and rolling the leaves. This steaming process halts oxidation, maintaining the tea’s fresh taste and lively color. After steaming, the leaves are rolled and dried in phases, ultimately taking on a needle-like shape. A variant known as ‘Fukamushi Sencha’ (deep-steamed Sencha) undergoes a longer steaming period, further enhancing its characteristics.
Sencha is grown under full sunlight, which is essential to developing its unique flavor. This exposure to direct sun differentiates it from other types of green tea that may be shade-grown. After harvesting, the leaves are steamed to halt fermentation, preserving their vibrant color and nutrients. Then, they are rolled and dried, a crucial step in forming Sencha’s distinctive needle-like shape and its characteristic taste.
Sencha strikes a balance between sweetness and bitterness, with a fresh, grassy aroma. The first brew is more astringent, while later infusions are milder. The flavor varies with the grade of Sencha and brewing method.
Sencha is rich in antioxidants, especially catechins, which have cancer-fighting properties. These polyphenols also reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels, aiding in the prevention of hypertension and diabetes. Additionally, catechins have antibacterial properties that can prevent colds, improve oral health, and even inhibit Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria linked to stomach cancer. Tannins in Sencha, like polyphenols, help suppress the formation of carcinogens. The tea’s modest caffeine content can stimulate brain function.
To enjoy Sencha at its best, careful brewing is key. To brew Sencha, use about one teaspoon of leaves per cup of water, with water temperatures between 70-80°C (158-176°F). Steep for about a minute for the first infusion, adjusting time for later infusions to taste.
Sencha, more than just a tea, is a daily delight for many and a part of Japan’s rich tea culture. Whether enjoyed alone or with friends, it offers a versatile and healthful experience. With this guide, we hope you’ll enjoy discovering the world of Sencha.