Sencha, the "decocted tea"! A name that literally translates to steamed tea. Most of us probably know that cha means tea, well sen means steamed!
It is the most popular loose leaf tea in Japan. However, sencha is in fact also well revered all around the world. As you may have guessed, sencha is a Japanese green tea and it is so popular that it accounts for 80% of tea produced in Japan.
Harvest & Preparation
Many Japanese green teas, including sencha, are steamed. This can be anything from 15 seconds, up to 2 minutes, but the overall intention is the stop oxidisation of the leaves occurring. The leaves are then rolled into long spear like shapes, then finally dried. This process creates some of the key flavours. Sencha is known to be grassy, fresh and vegetal, usually with a high astringency.
As with all teas though, this does depend on where it grew and when it was harvested. For example, Shincha, the first picked tea of the season, more commonly known as the first flush, is revered as the best. This is due to sweeter grassy notes and milder astringency, than the average sencha.
Types of Sencha
Yes, there are a few different types of sencha, mainly catergorised on grade or harvest time. However, the majority of these are made with the same resilient cultivar of the tea plant, yabukita
- Shincha – First picked of the year and considered the best.
- Toku Jô and Jô Sencha – Extra superior and superior, high grade sencha.
- Hachijuhachiya Sencha – Harvested roughly 88 days after spring has begun.
- Asamushi – A traditional, lightly steamed sencha, that is sweeter in fragrance.
- Chumushi – Sencha that has undergone medium grade steaming.
- Fukamushi/Fukamushicha – A newer type of sencha that is heavily steamed, for 1-2 minutes to create a dark, cloudy tea with little aroma, but stronger savory flavour.
- Kabusecha – Whilst sencha is usually grown in direct sunlight, this type is grown in shade for 7 to 10 days, to create an individual flavour.
For the more visual of you:
Thank you to Yunomi Tea, who helped clarify a few things.