Sencha Tea: A general guide
Sencha tea is the fully sun-grown variety of Japanese green tea. It is the most common and popular variety of green tea in Japan and makes up over 60% of all tea produced. There are many cultivars and grades of Sencha, which leads to a large spectrum of taste, quality and pricing.
The final taste of Sencha is influenced by a number of factors. These include the quality of the geographical location of the farm, the quality of the raw leaves and the final processing method used to produce the final product. Because the first two factors vavy so widely, most tea is graded by its final processing method. The processing method is categorized by the length of the steaming of the tea, as most Japanese green tea is steamed. After the tea is picked it is steamed to stop the oxidation. The grades are Asamushi, which is steamed for the shortest time, followed by Chumushi and Fukumushi, which is steamed for nearly twice as long as Asamushi. These three grades of tea help one to have a general idea of how their tea will taste before they purchase it.
ASAMUSHI SENCHA - the Traditional Noble made using the Asamushi process, the tea leaves are steamed for the shortest amount of time, which follows the traditional method of processing tea. As the Asamushi process is more delicate, this process is commonly used for the higher grades of raw tea. In appearance, it has large needle-like leaves, and when brewed it appears as a light-golden green liquor. It has a full-bodied earthy taste and an exquisite aroma.
Note: The color of the brew does not always tell one how deep or complex the taste of the tea will be. Asamushi has an exquisite taste, and many of the highest quality teas are processed using the Asamushi method
CHUMUSHI SENCHA - This is medium steamed Sencha and has been a method ofproduction for three centuries. The steaming time is between 60 and 100 seconds and produces a fragrant tea.
FUKAMUSHI SENCHA - the Modern Sencha tea with the Fukumushi process, the tea is steamed for the longest time. Compared to the traditional Asamushi process, Fukumushi nearly doubles the time it is steamed for. A more modern method of processing tea, it is often used for leaves that are not suitable for the Asamushi process. Compared to the Asamushi teas, its appearance is less like needles and more like a coarse powder. This powder dissolves when the tea is brewed, giving the liquor a dark-green color. Fukamushi teas are easier to brew, and less bitter. Much like Matcha, a lot of the nutrients remain in the tea after brewing, due to some of the powder dissolving in the tea. Matcha, however, still holds the crown for nutritional content and taste. Many years of experience have gone into creating the Fukumushi method, and the results have come to be highly appreciated and very popular in the modern day.
CAFFEINE - We are often asked if Sencha contains Caffeine. The answer to this question is yes it does. The amount of caffeine varies by the particular type of sencha and the brewing time. Between 15 and 70 milligrams of caffeine are present in an 8 oz (240ml) cup of sencha which is compared to 80 to 200+ milligrams of caffeine in a cup of coffee.
BREWING - Sencha tea can be enjoyed hot or cold. We actually have a range of sencha that is specifically packaged for brewing in cold water and drunk as iced tea. Iced sencha is a very refreshing summer beverage. Regular Sencha is usually brewed with 180F (80C) water for between 30 and 90 seconds, the larger the leaves the longer the brewing time