A Basic Guide to Japanese Sencha Green Tea

Spring is coming and it is almost Japan's harvesting season for tea. So why don't we talk a little about tea?

sencha_header

There are many types of tea, but perhaps the most familiar one is sencha green tea.

But what is the difference between sencha and other green tea varieties that we usually hear? If asked, not everyone could answer with proper explanation.

In this article, we will explain the basic guide of Japanese Sencha Green Tea that you might not know.


What is Sencha Green Tea

sencha_green_tea

Sencha green tea (煎茶) is a popular green tea variety in Japan, covering up to 80% production volume every year.

This tea is made by harvesting the Camellia Sinensis (tea) leaves that were cultivated without blocking the sunlight, immediately steamed, rolled, and dried. It only uses the first pluck of the tea plant and always harvested by hand. The steaming process is important to prevent oxidation so sencha green tea could preserve its green color with plenty amount of polyphenol (45-90%) and has relatively low caffeine content.

Sencha green tea has a refreshing aroma with a balanced harmony of sweetness and bitterness. The brewed sencha green tea may have a light pale yellow-ish to green color. These flavors may vary with different types of sencha and how they processed.

Sencha is one type of Ryokucha (Japanese Green Tea)

When people mention ryokucha, it is referring to Japanese green tea (緑茶, ryokucha). Ryokucha itself is divided into various grades for differing the harvest time, the processing method, and the amount of sunlight the leaves are exposed to.

Sencha is one kind of ryokucha that become the most well-known variety. The characteristics of sencha green tea: it uses only the first pluck of the tea leaves cultivated in the open air with plenty of sunlight.

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While the other grades of ryokucha are:

● Gyokuro
Highest grade of Japanese green tea. Picked during the first round of harvest season from the tea plant that shaded from the sunlight for around 20 days before being harvested.

● Tencha
Harvested like gyokuro, but the leaves are not rolled in the production process.

● Bancha
Harvested in later period of harvest season from the second pluck of tea plant.

Matcha
Finely grounded powder of tea leaves that only uses the tea plant has been shaded-grown for three to four weeks before harvesting process.

Japan has so many tea plantations scattered all over the prefectures. The largest and well-known production area for sencha green tea is Shizuoka Prefecture, Kagoshima Prefecture, and Mie Prefecture. For gyokuro and matcha tea, the Uji City of Kyoto Prefecture is the most leading production area.

Types of secha green tea


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Sencha also has several types, differentiated by the harvest time, production method, producing regions, and more.

The most common way to divide sencha green tea is based on their steaming (mushi) time. Different steaming times will make a significant difference to the color, aroma, and shape.

● Asamushi Sencha
Known as the light steaming sencha green tea (about 20-30 seconds steaming time). This is the type of sencha green tea we usually drink. Lighter steaming time will result in long and narrow tea leaves. It has a cleaner, freshening taste with a strong aroma.

● Chumushi Sencha
The medium steaming. Lies between asamushi sencha and fukamushi sencha and usually steamed for 30-40 seconds.

● Fukamushi Sencha
The deep steaming sencha green tea which steamed for 40-90 seconds. It doesn't have astrigentcy and has a mellow taste. Due to longer steaming time, it has fine tea leaves shape with a richer taste and darkish green color, yet weaker aroma.

● Powdered Sencha
The grounded version of sencha green tea. It's not matcha but may has a similar texture to matcha. This type of sencha usually used to be mixed with food (for cooking).

If divided by the harvest time, there is shincha green tea. The firstly harvested variety in an order is shincha → sencha → bancha. Because it is only produced in a small quantity and mainly only available in a short time of period, shincha is quite special and pricey.

It’s interesting to learn the types of sencha green tea. Let’s choose what type of sencha tea suits you the best!


Caffeine content in sencha green tea

The unfermented teas like green tea showed a lower caffeine content than the fermented teas (red and black tea). Research presented the caffeine content in green tea is around 15-25 mg/150 ml, oolong tea is 18-33 mg/150 ml, while black tea has the highest that is 40-70 mg/150 ml.

Generally, tea bag produces a higher percentage of caffeine than tea leaves. Please also note that the caffeine content may vary to the brand of tea, types of tea, and the preparation method.

Reference:
Beneficial Effects of Green Tea—A Review

How to Brew Sencha Green Tea

Sencha green tea is delicious to drink as a hot or cold beverage. Be sure to follow the correct how-to brew sencha green tea, as it will enhance its aroma and flavor.

● Hot Sencha Green Tea
● Iced Sencha Green Tea

The instructions below are the recommended way to serve delicious hot sencha green tea, adjusted for brewing sencha green tea at home from the method used for senchadō (traditional Japanese tea ceremony for sencha). For the iced sencha green tea, we will be using the cold brew method.


Hot Sencha Green Tea

The traditional way to drink sencha green tea is to drink it as a hot beverage.
In order to serve the possible best tea, let’s focus at the right temperature before actually steeping the sencha.
Serving for3servings
Cooking Time7minutes
how_to_hot_sencha

 What you will need

・Kyusu (teapot)
・Chawan (teacup)
3 cups

 Ingredients

・Sencha green tea leaves
2 tablespoons
・Water
250 ml

 Steps

1
Cool off the water temperature (1)
Boil the water for the initial temperature of 90-100 degrees Celcius. Pour it first to the teapot to decline the temperature for about 80-90 degrees Celcius (if the temperature is too high, the sencha will become bitter).
2
Cool off the water temperature (2)
Next, pour the water from the teapot into all tea cups. It will further reduce the temperature to 70-80 degrees Celcius (the perfect temperature to steep the sencha).
3
Put sencha green tea leaves to the teapot and pour the hot water.
Insert 2 tablespoons (6-8 grams) of sencha green tea leaves to the teapot, then pour the water at around 70 degrees Celcius. The amount of water should be around 170 ml.
4
Let it steep for around 60-90 seconds with the lid closed.
5
Pour the tea into the cups.
Pour the steeped tea alternatively into each of the cups, make sure it is evenly distributed. Please do not leave any single drop of tea, as you will need the tea leaves again for the second or third brew.
6
Enjoy the first brew sencha green tea.
The first brew has the natural aroma and sweetness from sencha green tea. If you decide to make the second or third brew, steep the tea with 5-10 degrees higher water temperature and shorten the steeping time. The high-quality sencha green tea can be used for three infusions.

Iced Sencha Green Tea

Recently, people also enjoy drinking iced sencha green tea, especially during summer. It is convenient and still delicious nonetheless. We will use the cold brew method to make iced sencha green tea. In Japan, this drinking method is called Mizudashi Sencha (水出し煎茶).
Serving for5servings
Cooking Time1hour
how_to_iced_sencha

 What you will need

・Teapot for cold brew

 Ingredients

・Sencha green teabag/leaves
1 bag/10 grams
・Cool mineral water
1L
・Ice cubes
Optional

 Steps

1
In case of using sencha green tea bag, put the teabag in a teapot and pour the 1L cool mineral water into the pot.
2
In case of using sencha green tea leaves, use the teapot with infuser. Put the tea leaves inside the infuser and pour the 1L cool mineral water into the pot.
3
Let the tea steep for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
4
Pour the cold brew sencha green tea into teacups. You may add some ice cubes if you want. Enjoy!

Sencha Green Tea Health Benefits

Health Benefit 1 Lower The Risk of Several Types of Cancer

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Green tea is rich in catechins, particularly Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG) – one of the plant compounds in tea called polyphenols that act as a natural antioxidant.

The antioxidants may prevent damage caused by free radicals. Therefore consuming green tea could lower the risk of several chronic diseases for your body. A study concludes that consuming green tea may lower the risk of several types of cancer such as breast and prostate cancer.

Reference:
Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review

The catechin contained in green tea has a greater amount than in other teas like black or oolong tea. Every green tea has a different amount of catechins, but the proportion varies between 45-90%, which is quite a lot to help in protecting your body cells from damage caused by free radicals.


Health Benefit 2 Reduce The Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

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Studies show that green tea may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.

Consuming green tea appears to be a good way to prevent heart disease by increasing the antioxidant capacity in the blood. The antioxidant will protect the LDL particles from oxidation, which may one of the pathways towards heart diseases.

But on the contrary, green tea should not be consumed by patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases. Excessive consumption of green tea also may increase heart rate and elevated blood pressure. So it is best to drink green tea just in an adequate amount.

Reference:
Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review


Health Benefit 3 Gives Relaxation Effect

relaxation

According to studies, the active amino acid (L-theanine) contained in green tea induces relaxation effect. L-theanine stimulates the alpha brain waves that could create deep mental relaxation.

A study published in Trends in Food Science & Technology found green tea produces relaxing effects without drowsiness for only 40 minutes after ingestion.

This amino acid is responsible to give the umami flavor that becomes the characteristic flavor of tea.

Reference:
Effects of Green Tea Consumption on Psychological Health


Health Benefit 4 May Help You to Lose Weight

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The EGCG in green tea also helps people to lose weight, mainly body fat, by increasing fat oxidation. Some small number of studies shown that green tea extract intake has the potential to induce more fat oxidation.

Reference:
The Effect of Green Tea Extract on Fat Oxidation at Rest and during Exercise: Evidence of Efficacy and Proposed Mechanisms

Green tea is categorized as low calorie or zero-calorie beverage, so it’s good for your diet.

That is why recently green tea has been called a beverage that helps in weight loss.

Though maybe the effect would be different for every individual, it is great to consume one or two cups of green tea in the morning to make your workouts and diets more effective.


Health Benefit 5 Gives You Energy

energy

Green tea has caffeine and tannins, which makes you feel energized after drinking one cup of the tea.

Despite their potential adverse effects on health which depends on every individual, caffeine and tannins could be a solution to solve fatigue, sleepiness, and lack of energy.

In general, the caffeine in green tea has less amount than other types of tea. However, those with caffeine sensitivity and excessive consumption of green tea may encounter caffeine side effects.

The good news is green tea has a natural chemical called theanine, which reduces caffeine effects with its calming effect.


Health Benefit 6 Reduce Risk of 2 Type Diabetes

diabetes

Consuming tea seems to have advantageous effects on individuals with diabetes. According to a review of 7 studies with a total of research in 286,701 individuals, green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic.

The antioxidants and astringent characteristics of green tea give better functioning of the pancreas. Good functioning of the pancreas manages better discharge of insulin, which can prevent the beginning of diabetes.


Reference:
Coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea consumption in relation to incident type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review with meta-analysis.

The Difference Between Sencha Green Tea and Matcha Tea


Sencha Green Tea

● The most common and well-known type of Japanese green tea.

● Made by only the first pluck of Camellia Sinensis (tea) leaves that were cultivated without blocking the sunlight.

● Immediately steamed, rolled, and dried after being harvested. Therefore still have the green tea leaves color with slender, needle-like shape. Also available in teabags and powder form.

● Divided into various types based on their steaming (mushi) time: asamushi, chumushi, and fukamushi sencha green tea.

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Matcha Tea

● 100% green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder. It comes only from the finest green tea leaves.

● Made by the Camellia Sinensis (tea) leaves that was been shaded-grown for three to four weeks before the harvesting process.

● Have a deep, lushyl green color with a smooth, talc-like texture.

● Divided into various grades based on their quality: ceremonial grade matcha and culinary grade matcha.

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We also write a full article about matcha tea. Please take a look to find detailed information about matcha!

matcha_tea_article_link

Matcha Tea And Its Benefits: Why It Is Good For Your Health?
This article will help to answer all your questions regarding the popular matcha tea.
We will discover the matcha benefits from recent studies, how to prepare matcha, delicious matcha recipes, and more interesting matcha facts that you need to know.
Click here to read more

Sencha Green Tea Recipe (Salmon Ochazuke)

There is one Japanese cuisine you can enjoy using sencha green tea, yes, it is salmon ochazuke. Salmon ochazuke is a simple, traditional Japanese dish of steamed rice topped with salted salmon with tea.

Some recipes may use dashi broth, but the original one is to use sencha green tea.

Salmon Ochazuke

Optional garnishes to make salmon ochazuke are totally free and adventurous depending on individual tastes. In this recipe, we will introduce the most preferred garnishes for salmon ochazuke.
If served during summer, you can use cold tea to make it more refreshing. Yummy!
Serving for1serving
Cooking Time30minutes
salmon_ochazuke

 Ingredients

・Japanese short-grain rice (cooked)
1 cup
・Salted salmon (shiojake)
100 grams
・Brewed Sencha green tea (enough to cover the rice)
150 ml
・Optional: shredded nori seaweed (kizami nori)
1 tsp
・Optional: bubu arare (crispy puffed rice pallets)
1 tsp
・Optional: Japanese parsley, scallion is also OK
2 stands
・Optional: wasabi paste
To taste

 Steps

1
Season the salmon with salt. Let it marinate for 10 minutes to absorb more flavor.
2
Bake the salmon at 400°F (200°C) for 20 minutes, or until the flesh is firm.
3
Take out the salted salmon from the oven. Remove the salmon flesh from the skin and bones, then slice it into one bite-size. Side aside.
4
Brew the Sencha green tea with these instructions. Prepare the steeped tea in a teapot.
5
Serve the cooked Japanese rice in the serving bowl. Add the shredded salmon and sprinkle the optional garnishes (nori seaweed, bubu arare, Japanese parsley). Additionally put some wasabi paste on top.
6
Pour the sencha green tea until it covers half of the rice. Enjoy!

Precautions for Sencha Green Tea Consumption


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How much sencha green tea I could drink?

The recommended consumption is 2-3 cups of sencha green tea per day.

Possible caffeine content’s side effects

Although the caffeine content in sencha green tea is relatively low to the other types of tea or coffee, its consumption is not advisable for those with low caffeine tolerance. Pregnant women and nursing women may want to limit their sencha green tea consumption to a maximum 1-2 cups/day.

High dose of caffeine in the body may cause headaches, insomnia, diarrhea, and irritability. Please also note that caffeine in sencha green tea also has some diuretic effects.

If you are searching for caffeine-free tea, you can try to drink Barley Tea in exchange!

Consider drinking only high-quality sencha green tea

High-quality sencha green tea will be harvested from April to May. Off-season tea can still be harvested, but resulting in lower quality. The harvesting period will greatly affect the sencha’s quality.

The organic or pesticide-free sencha green tea can be another good alternative. The tea plant cultivated in an organic environment will give goodness from nature.

Please consider drinking high-quality sencha green tea due to the possible high Flouride content that may be harmful to your body.


Sencha green tea offers great health benefits if consumed moderately. So please consume it with remembering these precautions in mind.

Sencha Green Tea Q & A

What is sencha green tea?
Sencha green tea is a popular green tea variety in Japan that has a balanced bitter-sweet taste. This tea was made by harvesting the Camellia Sinensis (tea) leaves that were cultivated without blocking the sunlight, immediately steamed, rolled, and dried.
How much caffeine in sencha green tea?
The caffeine content in sencha green tea is around 15-25 mg/150 ml. Sencha green tea has a relatively low caffeine content than other types of tea. Teabags tend to have higher caffeine content than the tea leaves.
How many calories in sencha green tea?
Sencha green tea is categorized as low calorie or zero-calorie beverage, so it’s good for your diet (the calorie depends to the product’s brand). Unless it is sweetened, the calorie will remain low.
How to choose high-quality sencha green tea?
High-quality sencha green tea is characterized by a thin, strong twist leaves which makes it look like a needle, and has a deep green color. Its taste will have a good balance between sweetness and bitterness.

High-quality sencha green tea will be harvested during April to May. Off-season tea can still be harvested, but resulting in lower quality.
How much sencha green tea I could drink?
The recommended consumption is 2-3 cups of sencha green tea per day. Sencha green tea offers great health benefits if consumed moderately.

Consider drinking sencha green tea during or after meals. Consuming sencha green tea before sleeping may disturb your sleep because it has caffeine content.
What is the difference between sencha green tea, shincha green tea, and bancha green tea?
Shincha and bancha are both sencha green teas, too. Shincha means “new tea” in Japanese. The difference is at its harvest time.

While shincha is firstly harvested than other variety (mid-April to early May), bancha is harvested in the later period from the second pluck of tea plant. Sencha green tea is harvested after shincha. Shincha and sencha only use the first pluck of the tea plant.
What is the difference between green tea, oolong tea, and black tea?
Tea can be divided into three categories: green tea, oolong tea, and black tea. The difference is at its oxidation level.

Green tea is immediately steamed to prevent oxidation, therefore green tea can preserve its green color (unfermented tea). Oolong tea is prepared using partially fermented leaves (semi-fermented tea), while black is prepared using fermented leaves.
What are the sencha green tea’s health benefits?
1. Lower The Risk of Several Types of Cancer
2. Reduce The Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
3. Gives Relaxation Effect
4. May Help You to Lose Weight
5. Gives You Energy
6. Reduce Risk of 2 Type Diabetes
Fluorides in tea: is it harmful or not?
Fluoride is a toxic compound that could naturally come from water and soil, polluted rain, polluted water, and the decaffeination process. However, it is found that green tea has less Fluoride content than oolong or black tea. High-quality green tea also shows a low content of Fluoride if compared with instant tea mixes, teabags with low-quality tea, and ready-to-drink teas. So researches agreed that drinking better green tea was important to prevent people from excessive intake to Fluoride.

Did you get the information you need?
We hope you could learn more about sencha green tea through this article. Let's drink sencha drink tea in the adequate amount to get the maximum benefits!