Most people are very familiar with green tea and if you ever have green tea from Japan, it’s most likely sencha.
The main distinction between Japanese Sencha and green tea from China is that in Japan the leaves are steamed, where in China they are pan-fired or sun dried. This gives Sencha a fresher, more leafy flavour compared to the earthiness of Chinese green tea.
Green tea plantations can be harvested 3-4 times a year but it’s the first spring harvest that yields the highest quality leaves with the largest concentration of nutrients. These are the leaves used to make Sencha, with later harvests yielding lower quality teas, known as Bancha.
Sencha is the most commonly consumed tea in Japan.
Our Organic Sencha
Our Organic Sencha comes from Kagoshima, an ocean-side town in southern Japan. Kagoshima has had a lot of volcanic activity over the years, with eleven volcanos still active today. This means a lot of the land there has been covered in volcanic ash, which is a natural, mineral-rich fertiliser. This is probably why so much of Japan’s organic tea is grown there.
Like most great Japanese green tea, our Sencha is steamed and has a crisp, sweet aroma and a fresh, leafy vegetal flavour. It is hand-rolled ensuring the opening of cell walls so that more of the leaf is infused into the tea.
Two things that will affect the flavour of the tea are steeping time and water temperature. Steeping times can range from 30 seconds to 3 minutes with temperatures between 60C to 90C. Generally, hotter water and longer steeping times will yield a more astringent taste, while warm water and shorter steeping times create a mellower flavour.
Add 1Tbsp Sencha to pot.
Pour in 2 Cups of water at 90°C.
Allow to steep for 1.5mins.
Water that is too hot will release tannins that make the tea excessively bitter but this can be easily avoided by letting your boiled water sit for a couple of minutes before pouring it over the tea leaves.
Heating the pot before adding the leaves and water will ensure the tea doesn’t cool too quickly, and it’s common in Japan to add more hot water to the tea that’s left in the pot as it’s drunk, until the flavour starts to degrade.
Chilled green teas are best prepared slowly to avoid bitterness. Add 2Tbsp Sencha to 4Cups cold water and allow it to stand overnight. You will find this creates quite a different flavour that features some of the more subtly sweet and vegetal aspects of the tea. This method passes much more caffeine into the liquid so that should be kept in mind for those who don’t drink coffee.
Another specifically Japanese method is to add the Sencha to a bowl or jug with ice – no water – and allow to stand out of the fridge. When the ice has melted, the tea is ready to drink. This makes a crisp and cold tea perfect for summer.