Sencha green tea (煎茶) is a distinct Japanese green tea often enjoyed in a casual environment as a refreshing beverage. It's typically infused by letting processed whole leaves steep in hot water.
Because of the unique flavor profile of sencha tea, it's not uncommon to see all tea varieties available for both overall caffeine content and subtle differences in flavor.
In today's post, we're going to tell you everything you need to know about this delicious beverage.
This includes the benefits of consuming it, its history, and several tips for making the most delicious cup of tea.
Like most types of green tea, sencha tea leaves offer individuals many health benefits. Those interested in improving their long-term health will notice the relevance between the green tea's effects and the ceremony involved in its steeping.
To begin, Japanese green tea helps reduce the presence of free radicals in the body. These molecules harm our cells and prematurely age our organs and tissue. The molecules damage our DNA and increase the risk of developing cancer.
Antioxidants, which green tea is full of, bind to these free radicals and neutralize them, making this tea an excellent option to help improve overall health.
This tea can also help individuals with their long-term weight-loss goals. The caffeine in Japanese green tea helps boost the metabolism by helping get rid of the free radicals that slow the body down, and the tea itself gives individuals more energy to use for exercising.
Japanese green tea is also ideal for those who want to boost their immune system. The antioxidants in the tea and the helping of vitamin C can be ideal for those who need a little extra to improve the functionality of their white blood cells. People with colds and flu might also experience shorter symptoms when they enjoy this drink.
Studies have also found that sencha tea can help reduce LDL, which is known as the bad type of cholesterol. Those who have a family history of heart disease should incorporate green tea into their regular routine to help reduce their risks. Everything from blood pressure to sugar irregularities can be helped with sencha green tea.
Studies have also found fluoride content in the sencha plant. This means individuals who have the drink regularly can improve the health of their teeth and prevent the development of cavities. The tea also helps fight unwanted germs in the mouth, reducing bad breath and stopping the growth of gingivitis.
(This post tells you more about the benefits of green tea for your oral health)
One of the lesser-known sides of Sencha is its history: Where it came from, how it developed, and why it became an integral element in Japanese green tea.
The first written records of tea in Japan come from the 8th century. However, it wasn't until the 18th century that Japan’s most popular tea sencha came to be. (Note: Sencha is one type of Japanese green tea, see this article for history of Japanese tea in general. This section of the article describes the history of “sencha” tea.)
Baisao(売茶翁) (old tea peddler), later known as Ko Yugai, began selling tea around Kyoto around 1735. His method for preparing his tea was known as “sencha”(煎茶) or “roasting/simmering tea.”
While Chinese tea producers had pan-fried many of their teas, Baisao’s method included placing whole tea leaves into boiling water and allowing the leaves to simmer.
Another differentiation is with a more popular tea of his age: matcha. (See the difference between sencha vs matcha here) Baisao was able to avoid grinding up tea leaves into a fine powder. Simplicity mattered as he moved from location to location, preparing his tea for fellow travelers.
By 1738, sencha had become so popular that Nagatani Soen (永谷宗円), an acquaintance of Baisao, began testing various methods to produce a brighter green-colored leaf tea.
What he ended up with is often referred to as the Uji cha method and is still in use today: Picking the finest tea leaves, Nagatani Soen would then steam, roll, shape and dry out the leaves. If you’ve spent some time analyzing sencha, you’ll get an idea of how this process works.
Nagatani Soen would reach out to Japanese farmers, teaching and guiding them in his newfound tea production process. He would also step out and sell his product wherever he could.
At first, he struggled.
Setting out for Edo, Kahei Yamamoto II picked up on Soen’s product. Under the name of “steamed green tea” and “Tenkaichi” (天下一) or “the best on earth,” sencha challenged the existing tea market. To add perspective, the pre-sencha Japanese tea market was largely consumed by the elite and through various ceremonies.
For the first practitioners of sencha, this tea was a way of enjoying tea beyond any existing forms of “elite” etiquette. It was, in part, for everyone.
While both Nagatani Soen and Baisao could reach the mass market throughout parts of Japan, sencha has since grown enormously. It has replaced matcha as Japan’s most popular tea and has established an entire art of Senchado (煎茶道) or the art of enjoying sencha. It also helped pave the way for other teas such as gyokuro and several sencha variants.
There are many different types of sencha to choose from. Learning about the types can allow individuals to add more variety to their routines.
These are a few of the sencha types that are popular and well-known, but I also have written a comprehensive list of all Japanese green tea types here in this article.
Although matcha and sencha are sometimes confused with one another, there are many differences between them.
Though there are many different green teas to choose from, the steeping process is often the same.
Individuals should adjust for time and temperature depending on the type.
I have a whole article dedicated to this. So, please click here or on the image below to learn how to make your sencha taste better.
To begin, it is important to use the correct teaware for the brewing process. There needs to be a lot of room in the pot for the leaves to naturally expand in the brewing. A fine filter is also necessary to keep sediment out of the final pour.
Japanese teapots, which are called kyusu, are specifically designed to allow for better leaf unfolding. There is a specific teapot that can make your sencha tea taste better because of the clay used.
A Japanese cast iron teapot also provides excellent heat retention and is also a great option for brewing your sencha tea.
The brewing process itself does not take a very long time, especially if the temperature has been calibrated correctly. The recommended amount of leaf to use is roughly one gram per every 50 milliliters of water.
As you become more experienced with brewing, you may change these ratios to suit your desired tastes.
For half a cup of water, it’s a good idea to use roughly 1 1/4 tablespoons of tea leaf.
Because of the low steeping time, it’s actually possible to get between three and five more steeps out of the leaves.
To get the best results, try to brew the second batch at 30 seconds and every subsequent batch at double the previous batch's brewing time. Each time you brew, try to increase the temperature by five degrees.
Be sure to experiment with the process to find what works best for you!
Click here to see the list of premium sencha green tea we offer.
If you have ever thought that Green Tea is an “acquired taste” or that it is “too bitter” to enjoy, we’re here to change your mind! We want everyone to experience the health benefits of Green Tea and show you that this can be an amazing, refreshing, and delicious drink when made correctly. With just a few tips on how to brew this powerful leaf we can change your mind about the taste and enjoyment of drinking Green Tea.
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