What is sencha tea, the most popular green tea in japan?

According to the National Coffee Association, more than 64% of Americans need at least one cup of coffee at some point during their day. However, in Japan, you are more likely to find people looking for a pot of tea in the morning.

Sakura Colorado claims that the Japanese drink green tea in the morning instead of coffee for its nutritional benefits. Healthline echoes this sentiment, noting that green tea is known for the many miraculous things it can do for your health. It has been shown to help with weight management, improve heart health, and also contains tons of cancer-fighting antioxidants.

The drink has long been important in Japan, although its arrival in the country seems rather late in comparison to tea’s ancient roots. Tea has been available in china for thousands of years but only came to japan in the late 11th century, per the tea valley. The monk Isai brought tea seeds from China, and the Japanese tea-drinking culture was born. Nio Teas says that matcha was the most popular way to consume tea in Japan, but that all changed with the invention of sencha, which would eventually overtake matcha to become the most popular type of tea in Japan.

Sencha tea history

The Japanese Green Tea Company says that sencha means “roasting/boiling tea”. It was given this name because boiling whole tea leaves in water to produce a beverage was significantly different from adding warm water to the fine powder required to make matcha. The Cha Path claims that this method was introduced to Japan in the 17th century by a monk named Engen. It was then popularized by a Kyoto tea seller known as Baisao. He disliked the formal treatment of tea and used sencha brewing as a way for the average person to enjoy a toast in a simple way.

Nio Teas adds that a tea farmer named Nagatani Soen (who the Japanese green tea company says knows Baisao) developed a form of preparation where tea leaves are steamed and rolled into tight spirals. This preserves the flavor and nutrients and keeps them fresh until ready to prepare.

The Green Tea Merchant Blog notes that this method of steaming defines the modern forms of Sencha tea and gives it a unique flavor compared to other roasted leaf teas.

Variety of Sencha tea

According to the Green Tea Merchant Blog, the steaming method used to preserve sencha tea tends to give it a bright, herbal aroma and refreshing taste. However, Nio Teas adds that it is common to encounter differences in sencha tea depending on how the tea was grown. Like all green teas, sencha comes from picking young tea leaves that are not yet fully ripe. However, the amount of direct sunlight or shade given to these leaves will directly affect their flavor.

Nio Teas claims that their non-dark sencha tea is known for having a bitter flavour. If the grower chooses to shade the leaves for less than ten days before harvesting, they will contain more of a compound known as theanine. This compound gives the leaves a sweeter flavor that can help balance the bitter notes. Kabuse sencha is the shadier form of sencha, it will usually be shaded for some time 10 to 21 days before harvest and will have the sweetest flavour.

There are also gyokuro teas that are grown entirely in the shade, meaning the leaves barely ripen. While Nio Teas may not consider gyokuro a sencha tea, they do acknowledge that its unique blend of sweet and savory flavors makes it one of the most sought-after teas in Japan.