Sencha is a kind of Japanese green tea that is made by putting processed whole tea leaves in hot water. It has a great balance of sweetness, bitterness, richness, astringency, and smell.
The Process of Growing and Cultivating Sencha
Sencha leaves are exposed to direct sunlight for the whole growth period, which in result, makes them grow quickly. Since they get a lot of sunlight, they are also packed with vitamin C and a high level of tannin. Tannin is what gives sencha its strong flavor. Sencha is harvested on the 88th day after the first day of spring on the traditional Japanese calendar. This day usually falls in early May. The sencha leaves are picked for the first round of harvesting. This harvesting time is called the first round, because there are other harvests of sencha. The first flush is considered to be the best quality, with great freshness and flavor.
After harvesting, sencha leaves are steamed usually within 12-20 hours of being picked. They are steamed so they do not oxidize, because if they did the tea leaves would change chemically and taste completely different. After they are steamed they are rolled and dried. This is why sencha looks kind of like blades of grass. The tea leaves are rolled and dried quickly after they are steamed. The rolling allows the flavors inside the leaves to be released. The tea leaves will be rolled several times, but the ending product is a needle-like shape. All of the rolling and drying allows the tea to retain most of its natural flavor.
The final step of cultivating sencha is sorting. All of the extra materials, such as flakes, stems, and leaf buds are taken out along with larger and harder leaves that are not easy to roll. All that remains in the end are the needle-like leaves that have been twisted. After this final step, sencha is packaged and ready to be sent out for consumers to buy.
How to Prepare Sencha
When you make sencha, you have to make sure the pot you use has lots of room for the leaves to expand. There should also be a small filter to pour the leaves through, since the sencha leaves are very thin. You don’t want to actually drink any of the leaves. The best teapot to use would be a Japanese teapot (called a kyusu). You should also cool the water down before you brew tea. The basic way to do this is to preheat the pot. Typical sencha should be brewed for about one minute. After that, you can pour the tea into your cup. Sencha can be re-used between 2-3 times, if you reduce the brewing time each time Each time you re-steep, you should raise the temperature a little also. Different producers will recommend different temperatures and brewing times, so it is best to check the directions on the box when you buy to know what temperature and time for brewing to use.
Taste and Smell of Sencha
Sencha usually has a grassy/flowery smell. It is slightly sweet, yet still astringent. It will have a strong tea flavor, without being too bitter. The sweetness and the grassiness mix well to give a very refreshing flavor. Sencha can be enjoyed during any occasion and is the most popular tea in Japan. If you get the chance, please try sencha!