Sencha tea is one of the most popular Loose Leaf Green Tea types in the world! It is produced both in China and Japan. However, it is better known as a type of Japanese Green Tea. Let us discover some interesting facts about Sencha Green Tea.
Sencha Green Tea. History
It is widely believed that Sencha tea was introduced to Japan by Nagatani Soen in Uji, Kyoto in 1738. Therefore, it is not the oldest type of tea in Japan, because there are many other tea types that are much older than Sencha, for example matcha green tea!
Sencha gained great popularity in Japan in the late 19th century, i.e. after the Meiji Restoration in 1867, thanks to which Japan opened its borders to other countries, and export became possible. At that time the Japanese started exporting Sencha to Europe and the United States, where Sencha tea was the second largest export, after silk.
Nowadays, 80% of all tea produced in Japan is Sencha tea, and some Sencha is produced in China, in accordance with the Japanese technique.
Sencha Tea. Production technique
The production technique for Sencha Tea is very interesting indeed. First of all there are two harvesting seasons.
The first harvesting season, or “the first flush” as it is most commonly referred to, happens in the spring, from April to May depending on regions. The tea harvested during the first season is often called “shincha” tea, (the word “shincha” meaning “the new tea” in Japanese) and has a very rich taste.
As for the “second flush” sencha tea, it is a more rare product, and produced mainly in Uji, Kyoto. The second harvesting season happens in the summer, usually in late June or early July. Second flush sencha is called “nibancha” tea (the direct translation of the word “nibancha” being “the tea of the second time”).
As for the production process itself, it is slightly different from that of other Loose Leaf Green Tea types.
Most Sencha tea grows under direct sunlight prior to harvesting. However, some of the types of Sencha Green Tea are shaded some time before harvesting. This is done to prevent the tea leaf from “burning out” in the sun and therefore to preserve most of its natural qualities.
The best known “shaded” types of Sencha Green tea are Kabusecha and Gyokuro Tea, the difference between these tea types being the fact that Kabusecha is shaded from the sun one week before harvesting, while Gyokuro is shaded about 3 weeks prior to harvesting. This makes it one of the most exquisite types of Japanese green tea.
Once the tea leaves have been harvested, they are usually steamed for 15-20 seconds to prevent oxidation. This step in green tea production is peculiar to Sencha Green Tea. No other green tea is steamed before other production processes begin.
The next step is rolling, and after that comes shaping, which consists in giving Sencha tea leaves their “trademark” thin cylindrical shape. After shaping the tea leaves are dried, and then you can use them to make yourself a nice cup of tea!
Sencha is one of the most popular tea types in the world. To learn more about its types, brewing guide and tasting traditions, please do not hesitate to read our article entitled “Japanese Sencha Green Tea”.