Sencha is one of the most popular Japanese teas. It is a high quality green tea that is easy to prepare at home.
This article will answer many of your questions about Sencha tea such as how to prepare it, how to store it, and what the differences are between different grades of Sencha. In addition, we will learn more detailed information about the health benefits and caffeine content of Sencha tea as well as what causes sencha’s unique flavor.
What is Sencha?
Sencha is a type of Japanese green tea that has been produced in the Uji region of Japan for over 1000 years. It is made from the leaves and stems of the Camellia sinensis plant and processed using steaming, pan firing, rolling, and drying techniques.
Sencha tea is a light green color, similar to Gunpowder green tea, because of the high quality steaming process used to prepare it. The steaming process causes the leaves to open up, allowing them to absorb more oxygen during processing which results in a mellow taste with a fresh fragrance and no bitter or grassy notes. Sencha teas are tightly rolled, giving them a bright appearance and a smooth flavor.
The difference between green tea and Sencha is that Sencha leaves are grown in full sunlight unlike most green teas which are grown in shaded areas. This allows the plant to produce more chlorophyll, which results in a light, refreshing flavor.
Sencha is often considered to be the everyday tea of Japan. It is used for both drinking and cooking. Sencha is usually brewed at a lower temperature than most green teas, around 160-180°F (70-80°C), which results in a slightly weaker flavor.
How to Prepare Sencha
Sencha can be prepared in the same way as other Japanese green teas, such as Gyokuro, by brewing it at a lower temperature for an extended period of time. This results in a brew that has a mild, fresh flavor and low notes of grass and spinach.
Place 1 tablespoon (4 grams) of sencha leaves into your tea infuser or tea strainer. Heat water to 175-180°F (80-82°C) and pour it over the leaves. Steep for 2 minutes.
Sencha can also be prepared by brewing it at a higher temperature, around 200°F (93°C). This results in a more robust flavor with stronger grass and spinach notes along with a hint of seaweed.
Benefits of Sencha Tea
Sencha is known to have many health benefits thanks to its high levels of antioxidants. One cup of sencha contains around 3 times more catechins than one cup of other green teas. Catechins are antioxidants with strong cancer fighting properties.
Sencha also contains theanine, an amino acid that improves mood and reduces anxiety. Theanine also helps to improve concentration and alertness.
Sencha Side Effects
By itself, sencha is considered to be safe and healthy. There aren’t many studies on the health benefits of consuming sencha, but most studies show that frequent green tea consumption can prevent or lower the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and stroke. However, it seems that some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. If you have a history of heart disease or irregular heartbeat then it may be best to avoid sencha.
Sencha is not recommended for pregnant women because it can stimulate uterine contractions, which could potentially cause a miscarriage or premature labor. The caffeine in sencha may also affect an unborn child, so it’s probably best to avoid drinking sencha while pregnant.
Caffeine in Sencha Tea
Sencha is also low in caffeine compared to most other teas, containing around 25mg per 8 oz. cup (compared to 55mg for black tea and 40mg for oolong). The low caffeine content makes sencha a good choice for people who are sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
Sencha Flavors and Aroma
Sencha contains a variety of different flavors and aromas. These flavors vary widely depending on the time of year the tea was picked, the grade of sencha, and the way in which it was processed. In general, sencha is known for its fresh tasting notes of spinach as well as grassy notes that are similar to hay and seaweed.
Most sencha teas have a smooth finish with no or very little astringency (a bitterness from tannins). However, there are many exceptions to this. For example, some sencha teas contain a slight fruitiness while others have a slight smoky note. This is caused by variations in processing methods as well as the season in which the leaves were picked.
Sencha Storage and Shelf Life
Sencha should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. It will keep fresh for up to a year if properly stored. If you buy sencha that hasn’t been sealed in an airtight container, it will only keep for about a week.
Sencha teas are graded based on their appearance and flavor. The highest quality sencha is called gyokuro, which has a mild flavor and aroma, followed by oolong tea and shaded teas (kabusecha), which have stronger flavors. Lower grades of sencha (standard green tea, chumushi, bancha) are made from older leaves that have been steamed less and are more bitter in taste.
This is the highest quality sencha available. It has a distinctive flavor and aroma that is slightly sweet with notes of spinach and seaweed. Gyokuro tea is made from the leaves of young tea plants that are grown under the shade to give them more chlorophyll. This gives the leaves a light, refreshing flavor and aroma. Gyokuro tea is only produced in the spring and autumn.
Shaded teas (kabusecha) are made from older leaves that have been steamed less than gyokuro or kabusecha teas. They are slightly less sweet and have a stronger flavor than gyokuro or kabusecha, although they are still considered to be high quality senchas. Shaded senchas can be found in all seasons except spring and autumn.
Kabusecha is made by steaming the leaves slightly less than shaded sencha. This produces a more bitter, grassy flavor with less spinach notes. Kabusecha is a high quality sencha that is great for brewing at home.
Other sencha types: Some people will use the term sencha for any tea that is not matcha. But true sencha is made from leaves that are steamed and dried to produce a bright green tea. The leaves are typically ground into a powder before being used.