What is Sencha Green Tea
Sencha green tea (煎茶) is a popular green tea variety in Japan, covering up to 80% production volume every year.
This tea is made by harvesting the Camellia Sinensis (tea) leaves that were cultivated without blocking the sunlight, immediately steamed, rolled, and dried. It only uses the first pluck of the tea plant and always harvested by hand. The steaming process is important to prevent oxidation so sencha green tea could preserve its green color with plenty amount of polyphenol (45-90%) and has relatively low caffeine content.
Sencha green tea has a refreshing aroma with a balanced harmony of sweetness and bitterness. The brewed sencha green tea may have a light pale yellow-ish to green color. These flavors may vary with different types of sencha and how they processed.
Sencha is one type of Ryokucha (Japanese Green Tea)
When people mention ryokucha, it is referring to Japanese green tea (緑茶, ryokucha). Ryokucha itself is divided into various grades for differing the harvest time, the processing method, and the amount of sunlight the leaves are exposed to.
Sencha is one kind of ryokucha that become the most well-known variety. The characteristics of sencha green tea: it uses only the first pluck of the tea leaves cultivated in the open air with plenty of sunlight.
While the other grades of ryokucha are:
Highest grade of Japanese green tea. Picked during the first round of harvest season from the tea plant that shaded from the sunlight for around 20 days before being harvested.
Harvested like gyokuro, but the leaves are not rolled in the production process.
Harvested in later period of harvest season from the second pluck of tea plant.
Finely grounded powder of tea leaves that only uses the tea plant has been shaded-grown for three to four weeks before harvesting process.
Japan has so many tea plantations scattered all over the prefectures. The largest and well-known production area for sencha green tea is Shizuoka Prefecture, Kagoshima Prefecture, and Mie Prefecture. For gyokuro and matcha tea, the Uji City of Kyoto Prefecture is the most leading production area.
Types of secha green tea
Sencha also has several types, differentiated by the harvest time, production method, producing regions, and more.
The most common way to divide sencha green tea is based on their steaming (mushi) time. Different steaming times will make a significant difference to the color, aroma, and shape.
● Asamushi Sencha
Known as the light steaming sencha green tea (about 20-30 seconds steaming time). This is the type of sencha green tea we usually drink. Lighter steaming time will result in long and narrow tea leaves. It has a cleaner, freshening taste with a strong aroma.
● Chumushi Sencha
The medium steaming. Lies between asamushi sencha and fukamushi sencha and usually steamed for 30-40 seconds.
● Fukamushi Sencha
The deep steaming sencha green tea which steamed for 40-90 seconds. It doesn't have astrigentcy and has a mellow taste. Due to longer steaming time, it has fine tea leaves shape with a richer taste and darkish green color, yet weaker aroma.
● Powdered Sencha
The grounded version of sencha green tea. It's not matcha but may has a similar texture to matcha. This type of sencha usually used to be mixed with food (for cooking).
If divided by the harvest time, there is shincha green tea. The firstly harvested variety in an order is shincha → sencha → bancha. Because it is only produced in a small quantity and mainly only available in a short time of period, shincha is quite special and pricey.
It’s interesting to learn the types of sencha green tea. Let’s choose what type of sencha tea suits you the best!
Caffeine content in sencha green tea
The unfermented teas like green tea showed a lower caffeine content than the fermented teas (red and black tea). Research presented the caffeine content in green tea is around 15-25 mg/150 ml, oolong tea is 18-33 mg/150 ml, while black tea has the highest that is 40-70 mg/150 ml.
Generally, tea bag produces a higher percentage of caffeine than tea leaves. Please also note that the caffeine content may vary to the brand of tea, types of tea, and the preparation method.
Beneficial Effects of Green Tea—A Review