Japanese Sencha – Taste, Caffeine and Health Benefits

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Japanese sencha tea

In Japan, a country that turns tea into an integral part of their culture, Sencha stands strong as the most popular green tea. More than 50% of all tea produced in Japan is Sencha. Japanese enjoy drinking Sencha tea daily for its refreshing flavor and excellent health benefits.

What is Japanese Sencha tea?

Sencha is the quintessential green tea from Japan. It is made of young tea buds and leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. The harvested tea leaves go through the process of steaming, drying, kneading, and sorting. The kneading or crumpling step helps to extract the flavor from the tea leaves.

There is a wide variety of Sencha. They are different based on cultivation techniques, harvesting time, processing methods

  • Asamushi Sencha is a lightly steamed form of Sencha, shorter steaming time of 20 to 60 seconds than typical Sencha. It has a light, delicate flavor.
  • Fukamushi Sencha is deep steamed Sencha, the longer steaming time results in green tea with a richer and more robust flavor.
  • Kuradashi Sencha is a spring variety stored at high altitudes to keep its freshness, develop flavor, and reduce astringency.
  • Kabusecha is shaded grown green tea for a period of 7 to 14 days. It increases the growth of certain amino acids in tea leaves. Kabusecha has full-bodied flavor, less tannin with a hint of sweetness.
  • Gyokuro is the premium grade of Sencha. It is shaded grown for 20 to 30 days. This time and labor-intensive tea have unique umaminess with wonderful aroma and flavor.

Apart from traditional loose leaf tea form, Sencha goes along really well with a wide range of ingredients. You can find Sencha with roasted rice (Genmaicha) that adds some toastiness to the tea. Another one is Sencha with dried mango, sunflower petals that blend the grassiness of Sencha with sweet, tropical flavors.

Sencha green tea health benefits

For a long time, people all over the world enjoy green tea not only for its taste but also for its amazing health properties. Sencha green tea is rich with antioxidants, catechins, vitamins, folic acid, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and many more.

Drink Sencha green tea regularly improve heart health, digestive health, and teeth strength. Rich in antioxidants, studies found that green tea can help to slow down the growth of cancer-causing cells and tumors.

Green tea has the polyphenolic compound EGCG – epigallocatechin-3-gallate. It has both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea is useful in the treatment of acne, reduce sebum excretions, and the appearance of wrinkles. Tea polyphenols have free radical scavenging activity that helps to protect cells from DNA damage. It also protects us from damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) B radiation (National Cancer Institute)

Sencha green tea plays a role in stimulating our metabolism. It promotes passive, fat burning in the body. A lot of healthy weight loss plan recommends the use of green tea with a balanced diet. With a good amount of caffeine, Sencha can also increase alertness, boost energy, and productivity.

Japanese Sencha caffeine content

One 8 fl. oz (236 ml) cup of brewed Japanese Sencha usually contains around 20 to 30 milligrams of caffeine. It is considered an average amount for green tea.

Factors like tea variety, roasting, and other processing methods will alter the caffeine content of Sencha green tea. For example, younger leaves and buds that used to make Sencha have a higher concentration of caffeine than mature leaves. But through roasting, that amount of caffeine will reduce.

Moderate caffeine intake of up to 400 milligrams per day is not associated with adverse effects in healthy adults. But if you experience headaches, insomnia, restlessness, abdominal pain, or nausea, you should consult with a doctor before continuing drinking tea or any beverage that has caffeine.

What is Sencha tea taste like?

Sencha green tea has a clean, rich vegetal aroma and flavor. It has some sweetness, astringency, butternut notes to the taste. The tea liquor has a light green to yellow or emerald green color.

Different brewing methods can alter the taste of Sencha. It can taste stronger, weaker, or less astringency depends on how much tea leaves you use, water temperature, and how long you brew them.

Gyokuro vs. Sencha

Gyokuro is a premium variety of Japanese green tea. It is grown almost exclusively in the Kyoto region. The tea is shade-grown for 20 to 30 days. It is made from the first flush of tea leaves. The tea has a complex flavor, and unique umaminess develops from the special cultivation method.

Sencha is grown under full sunlight with no shading period. It has a clean, vegetal with a bitter-sweet taste. On the other hand, Gyokuro has a rich flavor, notable sweet taste, and a pleasant aroma. The astringency and the vegetal flavor is very subtle with Gyokuro.

As one of the finest green tea available, the price of Gyokuro is much higher than regular Sencha. It costs between $40 to $60 for 100 grams of Gyokuro tea. That price tag reflects the skillful techniques, time, and great care that take to develop the gourmet Gyokuro.

How to brew Sencha tea?

These steps below act as an example of a way to brew Sencha loose leaf tea. You can go ahead and experiment with different temperatures and steeping times. Instead of stick to a guideline, brewing a cup of tea that suits your taste should be the ultimate goal.

  • Prepare a pot of boiling water (8 fl. oz – 236 ml)
  • Pour the hot water into the teapot, carefully rotate it so that the hot water creep up all the way around. Empty the water out
  • Put one teaspoon, about 3 grams of Sencha on the teapot
  • Pour hot water (180 degrees Fahrenheit – 82 degrees Celsius) into the teapot. Place a lid to cover the teapot.
  • Steep the tea for about 2 to 3 minutes
  • Pour a cup of Sencha to enjoy

You can steep Sencha for a few times. It is flexible on how to steep/brew Sencha using kyūsu – traditional Japanese teapot, Western teapot, or a tea mug. But avoid steeping the tea for too long as the bitterness will unnecessarily increase.

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