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Sencha Green Tea
Sencha is a Japanese green tea that is processed without grinding of the tea leaves. The word "sencha" is translated differently by several groups of tea afficianados - some believe it means "simmered tea," while others prefer "roasted tea". Sencha may well be one of the world’s most popular green teas. While it's best known as a Japanese tea, green tea is indigenous to China and during the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century, a monk named Ying Yuan brought the first loose leaf Sencha to Japan.
In 1740 a Kyoto tea master named Soen Nagatani was the first to use the method of steam processing the green leaf. The result was a very fresh cup that became known as Sencha. Nagatani’s tea became very popular and was soon considered a daily drinker favored by the common people of Japan while the elite and wealthy preferred matcha.
Sencha production continued to grow over the next 900 years until even the largest Japanese tea farms couldn't keep up with the increasing demand due to the lack of sufficient growing space. They started to invest heavily in developing Japanese-style tea farms in and around Zhejiang Province in China. These farms are meticulously managed by long time Japanese tea masters. These Japanese style teas are as good if not better in some cases than Japanese grown Sencha. This proved to be particularly crucial with the recent meltdown of the nuclear plant in Fukushima Japan.
Our shade-grown Sencha is plucked from the northwest region of Zhejiang province, which in Chinese history is a region that is best known for growing green tea. The fist tea book ever written was during the Tang dynasty (618-907) by the famous tea master, Lu Yu. Lu Yu spent much of his life living in this region and he finished writing his book there. This area is known for its low mountains with elevation ranges from 500 - 1,500 feet above sea level, so there is little danger of frost for the tea bushes. Rainfall is very good, with just about half of the days each year bringing rain. While the Chinese don't consume much Sencha tea, they do produce the majority of Sencha consumed in other countries. Sencha tea bushes prefer warm climates with lots of moisture, but not direct sunlight. Shade grown tea research shows that these teas tend to have a better aroma and more sweetness than tea grown without shade.
Sencha is the most popular tea in Japan, and is the tea that a guest is most likely to be served when visiting a Japanese home. Sencha is typically used in Japanese tea ceremonies marking events of personal importance. In this type of tea ceremony the ritual of the ceremony is of as great importance as the person being acknowledged. Matcha tea is used in the ceremonies marking ‘life altering events’.
The liquor of a high quality sencha is a golden greenish color. Depending upon the brewing temperature of the water the flavor can be noticeably different. With hotter water (closer to boiling) it is more astringent, with water closer to 170° it is relatively mellow.
The flavor profile of Sencha tea is a delicate sweetness, with mild astringency and smooth grassy undertones.
We recommend brewing at 170° and some Sencha fans prefer to let it steep for as little as 45 seconds while others swear that up to 2 minutes is best; experiment to find your personal sweet spot. Leaves are good for 3-5 infusions.