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Sencha - Gyokuro Switcheroo - Chado February 2023

Sencha - Gyokuro Switcheroo - Chado February 2023

How many new ones, and what is there?

Canada, where we are based, is the second largest country in the World by geographical area.

Japan, where our tea comes from, is an archipelago.

After five years of high school geography, those are about the only two facts I remember.

Japan is now even more of an archipelago than it used to be. Recently, the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI) upped the number of islands in Japan from just less than 7,000 to more than 14,000. Just in the last few months, they discovered 7000 new islands. That seems a bit strange, but we will take them at their word.

We have mentioned a few times, all the tea in the world; excluding things like herbal tea and chamomile tea, comes from a single plant – Camellia Sinensis.

Further, all that rich diversity in the teas we drink comes from only two of the three known varieties of that tea plant – Sinensis and Assamica. The third variety is Camellia Sinesis Cambodiis is mostly not used much for tea.

All the teas like Assam, Oolong, black tea, green tea, Pu-erh – all that variety comes from one plant and its two varieties, We have to wonder if, on these new-found islands, there might be lurking a new variety of tea.

That would be exciting and it would be fascinating to see what old and new techniques would be used to prepare if for our enjoyment.

Any New Tea Varieties Hiding on the New Islands?

What new tea variety could be quietly growing here?

Photograph courtesy Kimon Berlin

Sencha and Gyokuro.

We usually try to introduce a new tea in our newsletter.

This month we decided to try something different with the hope that you might be tempted to try something different from our existing selection.

There are a lot of different types of Japanese teas and ways to prepare them.

Some people start the day with a Matcha Latte, enjoy a cold brewed Sencha after a bit of exercise and end the day with a low-caffeine Hojicha before retiring.

We know other customers that like a particular tea brewed in a particular way and stick with that.

We have members of the team here that are in both camps, and we know better than to try and get in the way of what tea drinkers like and how they like it!

As we wait for the new spring harvest to arrive, we thought we would do a quick comparison of a few teas and see where they are similar and where they differ. If you like one, perhaps you might like to try a different one, or if you just 'like what you like' we understand that.

Sencha and Gyokuro.

Tea Cultivation
Misty Mountain Sencha


Kabusecha Shaded Sencha

Gyokuro Being Grown Under Shade

Full Sun versus Shaded.

Sencha is the most common and consumed Japanese tea.

Sencha is typically made from tea that has been grown in the full sun. The effects of the sun on the plant adds a pleasant astringent mouthfeel to the prepared tea.

Gyokuro is a tea that is shaded from the sun for approximately three weeks prior to harvesting.

In general, less sun exposure prevents photosynthesis of the tea plant so that tea leaves retain more sweetness and Umami taste

If there were no other factors, then people that liked the astringent feel would go with Sencha, and those that liked sweetness would go with Gyokuro.

There are lots of other factors, though. Some sencha is actually shaded for some of the time before it is harvested - this is called Kabuse-cha. Some Sencha is grown in areas where there is less exposure to the sun, for example, in the misty mountainous areas of Japan.

Sencha comes in many types and grades, and all the nuances involved in growing, harvesting and producing the tea affect its sweetness and astringency. Similarly, Gyokuro comes in a range of types, and while all have the sweetness expected, some have a hint of the astringency more common in Sencha.

If you are a Sencha lover and wish to explore other tea, we would recommend trying Gyokuro Classic or Gyokuro Karigane. Gyokuro Classic is like a bridge between Sencha and Gyokuro. Gyokuro Karigane has a satisfying sweetness with a touch of nutty taste because it is made with Gyokuro tea stems.

If you are a Gyokuro lover and wish to explore Sencha, we would recommend trying Organic Sencha A. This is our best seller amongst all of our Organic teas.

On a final note, we sometimes hear that Green tea is bitter. Bitterness and astringency are not the same things; in very broad terms, strong bitterness, one of the main 5 tastes, is not typically that enjoyable, whereas astringency is usually thought of as a pleasant mouthfeel.

Green tea should not be excessively bitter unless you prepare it that way intentionally. Usually, if you prepare some tea and it has a bitter taste that you were not looking for, it is likely that the brewing temperature was too hot or the brewing time was too long. Please take a look at our brewing guide for general guidelines and the instructions we provide on the individual tea pages for specific details.

Valentine's Day is past - Get ready for Girl's Day.


On 3rd March, it is Girl's Day (Hinamatsuri (雛祭り) In Japan.

We received a very nice Hinamatsuri card from Japan - it was a very nice surprise.

Hinamatsuri Card

Girl's day is a festival devoted to the hope for the health and happiness of girls in Japan. It is sometimes referred to as doll's day and the day is typically marked by the sending of dolls or cards to girls. The card we received is a very nice example of the type of card sent and shows a five level display indicating the Emperor and Empress's wedding day with them at the top and the congregation below.

For girls under 10 in Japan, it is a good excuse for a party and special foods are often served there, for example, mosaic sushi and sakura mochi, and a non-alcoholic Sake called white sake for drinking

Happy Girls Day from everyone at Chado Tea House.

Treats for Girl's Day