Many tea enthusiasts may have heard of matcha tea in relation to green tea, but they may not have heard of sencha. Sencha tea has a rich history as one of the oldest types of tea consumed in the world.
Sencha tea is a loose green tea served with the whole leaves steamed, torn up, and dried for drinking. Sencha green tea is used for drinking, cooking, and in cosmetic products. This tea has many medicinal benefits for drinkers and has made up part of the Japanese tea ceremony for centuries.
Sencha tea may not be as commonly known as matcha, but it’s just as important in tea culture. Read on to learn more about the qualities of sencha tea and how to serve it properly.
History of Sencha Tea
Sencha tea was introduced to medieval Japan in the 15th century by visiting Buddhist monks from China. From its introduction on, this dried tea was highly valued by members of the upper class such as samurai and feudal nobles. Sencha is prized for its medicinal properties and the relaxing effects it has on the mind and body.
Types of Sencha Tea
There are several varieties of sencha tea that are grown and processed for their different flavors and effects. Here are the main categories of sencha:
- Shincha: Shincha tea is tea that is harvested from the first crop of sencha in the spring. These leaves are considered the freshest green tea leaves in each harvest and are highly prized as a result.
- Kabusecha: Kabusecha, which translates as “shaded tea”, is the name for sencha tea that has been grown in full shade for seven to ten days. This gives Kabusecha tea a slightly sweeter flavor than typical sencha.
- Gyokuro: Gyokuro is similar to kabusecha tea except that instead of only being grown in the shade for seven to ten days, the tea is shaded for twenty days. This leads to a tea with a much sweeter flavor. Gyokuro tea is the most expensive green tea in Japan.
Regardless of which kind of sencha tea you get, you’re signing up for quality. The key is preparing it properly and sourcing your tea from a reputable vendor.
How is Sencha Different Than Matcha?
The main difference between sencha and matcha lies in how the tea is processed. While sencha tea is served with the leaves crushed and crumpled into small pieces, matcha tea is served as a fine green powder stirred into hot water to create a foamy, creamy form of green tea. While both types of tea originate from the same plant, they taste slightly different.
How Is Sencha Tea Used?
Like other types of green tea, sencha tea is used in drinks, cooking, and cosmetics. Its medicinal properties and mellow flavor make it a popular additive in consumable products. However, the primary use for this tea is in Japanese tea ceremonies.
How to Serve Sencha Tea
The process for serving sencha tea is somewhat complicated compared to other tea types. Here’s the recipe you should follow if you want to make a traditional pot of sencha tea:
- Add a tablespoon of dried sencha leaves to the tea pot for each cup of tea you’re trying to brew. For example, if you’re trying to make tea to serve four people, add four tablespoons of tea to the pot.
- Add near-boiling water to each tea cup and cool for two minutes. Then pour the water from each cup into the teapot over the sencha leaves.
- Brew in the teapot for one to two minutes.
- Pour the brewed tea back into each individual cup and serve.
Serving sencha this way helps preserve the tea’s delicate aromas and flavors while also releasing them at the same time. Keeping the brewed tea at a proper temperature and brewing it just long enough to release the chemicals in the tea is an important part of serving it right.
Health Benefits of Sencha Tea
Sencha is popularly consumed in and outside of Japan for its medicinal properties. Green tea has been scientifically proven to have several positive impacts on a person’s health. Here are some of the ways drinking sencha tea can improve your well-being:
- Weight loss: Drinking green tea daily has been shown to speed up metabolic processes and encourage calorie loss. Replacing sugary drinks with green tea two or three times a day can help accelerate weight loss goals.
- Skin care: When used in cosmetics, green tea is good for your skin because it helps reduce inflammation and keep a person’s complexion clear. It also has natural antibacterial properties that prevent skin problems like acne. Tea can even help soothe a sunburn.
- Antioxidants: Green tea is full of healthy chemicals called antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the body and are known to help prevent a variety of serious medical conditions, from cancer to heart attack.
Green tea is just as commonly consumed for its health benefits as it is for its refreshing herbal flavor. Including it as part of your daily diet can improve your intake of Vitamin C and other essential nutrients over time.
What Does Sencha Tea Taste Like?
Sencha tea tastes like all green tea, which tends to have an astringent grassy flavor that is often described as fresh. The flavor notes in sencha are compared to the following fruits and vegetables:
- Butternut squash
- Brussels sprouts
While it might be a bit of an acquired taste for some drinkers, there’s no denying that adding a cup or two of this herbal drink to your morning routine can be a refreshing and healthy way to start your day. All of the flavor notes in green tea are relatively mild compared to other breakfast beverages such as coffee, so it isn’t hard on the palate.
Sencha Tea is a Centuries-Old Tradition
Even if you are only getting into drinking green tea for its health benefits, it’s worth it to know that sencha has a deep and colorful legacy among the different beverages of the world. Green tea has almost had as big of an impact on the world as coffee, and this delicious green drink has definitely shaped the history and culture of Japan.