Some thoughts about Sencha Japanese Green Tea
As you know, the "tea world" is full of infinite kinds of tea. This may seems overwhelming if you're just beginning to learn about tea. Yet, variety is beautiful and enriching. Here at B Fullers we are glad to include Sencha Japanese tea in our ever-growing tea family!
Here are a few fun tidbits about Sencha:
Authentic Japanese Sencha is produced from tea bush varietals such as Yubukita or Seamidori. It is noticeably different than Chinese green teas and therefore adds a new element to our line of teas. Once plucked, the leaves are rolled into needle shapes before being steamed, dried and sorted. Steaming the leaves deactivates the enzymes in the leaf differently than firing, which is typical of Chinese Green Teas, and gives Japanese Senchas their distinctive (sweet, grassy, oceanic) flavor profile.
Traditionally, Japanese farmers wear a colorful, multi-layered costume for harvesting tea. This also contributes to Japan's unique harvesting and processing of Sencha. Here at B Fullers, we LOVE dressing up and are sure that this costuming makes the teas taste better.
Sencha means "simmered tea" and this type of tea was popularized in Japan by a Buddhist monk named Baisao, who walked the streets of Kyoto selling his tea from a bamboo basket containing his tea equipment, which he called Senka ("den of the sages"). His "simmered tea" method was a deliberate comment on the rigid, elaborate formalism of the traditional tea ceremony which uses Matcha. Sencha therefore was enjoyed as a simple and more carefree tea alternative.
Sencha is but one type of Japanese Green Tea (ryokucha), distinguished from other types such as Matcha, gyokuro, and bancha. A variety of Sencha is Sincha, or "new tea", which is from the first growth of the year (first flush), and is considered the most delicate, fresh, and sweet. Kabusecha is Sencha that is shaded for a week before the tea buds are picked in the Spring, producing a milder tea. This differs from gyokuro which is shaded for a longer period. Shading increases the production of amino acids, such as theanine, which of course give the tea a distinctive flavor, but also increases its' relaxing effect. Kabusecha takes its' name from the nets (kabuse) which shade the plants.
Now let’s get to drinking. How do we brew an excellent cup of Sencha?
First of all, Sencha loves a cooler temperature. 150-170 degrees Fahrenheit is the norm. Hotter, boiling temperatures are known to ruin the subtle nuances and overall sweetness. One teaspoon (3 grams) per cup will do.
Secondly, it is best to brew at a shorter time than most teas. Some Senchas are best at 15 second steeps, while others are good for nearly 2 minute steeps. Play around and see what works for you and your Sencha.
Finally, a word about the brewing vessel. Kyusu is the word for teapot, and of course there are a multitude of choices, both in material and design. What is important is to allow plenty of room for the tea to expand and move around freely to properly develop its' aroma and flavor, along with the correct design of the filter, usually built into the spout and of the same material as the teapot. The hole size of the filter is important for different types of Sencha.
At B. Fullers, we are glad to offer rich, high quality, authentic Organic Japanese Sencha and Sincha that is quite delicious in all its different brewing methods. We currently carry a Sencha from Saga prefecture, as well as an amazing Sincha from Kagoshima Island. We also have a delightful and unusual Sencha blend (Sencha Candy) that has the aroma of fresh cotton candy. We invite you to visit us and share a cup with us!