Sencha is the most common tea consumed in Japan and accounts for 80% of Japanese tea production. All Japanese people should be drinking Sencha and Fukamushi-sencha even unconsciously. How much do you know about them?
What are Sencha and Fukamushi-sencha?
Sencha originally referred to “a tea to drink by infusing.” However, today, it refers to a tea produced by blocking the oxidation of the fresh leaves with heat, kneading the leaves to dry, and giving them a needle-shape. In general, Sencha is steamed for 30–40 seconds. If it is steamed double, for 60–80 seconds, the tea is called “Fukamushi-sencha.”
Sencha was born more than 300 years ago during the Edo Period. Tea culture spread among ordinary people then. They started infusing tea leaves to drink tea. At that time, any tea to drink by infusing was collectively called Sencha. Its color was blackish and its flavor was not good.
In 1738, Soen Nagatani, who was later called the originator of Japanese green tea, invented “the steaming method” as a new manufacturing way, making use of existing tea manufacturing methods. It changed the liquid color from brown to green and improved the flavor. Tea produced in this method became popular across the country and led to today’s Sencha.
Features of Sencha and Fukamushi-sencha
Fully-sunbathed tea leaves are used for Sencha so that the astringent ingredient catechin and the bitter ingredient caffeine increase to provide astringent and bitter flavors. However, the tea contains full of umami of the ingredient theanine, you can enjoy balanced flavors of astringency, bitterness, and umami. The liquid color is deep green. An invigorating, refreshing sent arises due to the use of fresh buds
Fukamushi-sencha has a weak aroma due to the prolonged steaming process, which gives less astringency than a normal Sencha. As a result, the tea provides a mild flavor with more sweetness and richness. The liquid color is deep green. In addition, Fukamushi-sencha’s fine leaves are suited for cold-brew tea, and also easy to brew, leaving fewer ingredients in the leaf.
Features of Sencha ingredients and Fukamushi-sencha ingredients
Unoxidized tea skips the oxidation process so that its ingredients and nutrients change little. The leaf keeps a great deal of the original nutrients almost as they are. It is full of vitamin C, amino acids, tannin for antioxidant effect, beta-carotene for immune enhancement and cancer prevention, and many other nutrient components.
Features of Sencha process and Fukamushi-sencha process
The plucked leaves are steamed, and repeatedly kneaded in various ways, and dried. The leaves should be steamed first to block the activity of oxidative enzymes so that they do not get oxidized. This process is called “deactivation.” Then, the leaves are fired (or roasted) and sorted alternatively. Lastly, they undergo blending to equalize the quality to become a product.
Production area of Sencha
Sencha, the most produced tea in Japan, has its production areas across the country, especially in Shizuoka Prefecture, Saitama Prefecture, Mie Prefecture, Kyoto Prefecture, Fukuoka Prefecture, and Kagoshima Prefectures.
How to drink Sencha
Sencha is sold with tea bags and easily prepared. However, the tea brewed from the leaves tastes especially good.
Approximately 6 g of tea leaf serves 2 people. Hot water can be used, but bitterness and astringency are also extracted at high temperature. For high-quality Sencha, it is recommended to use water of about 70 degrees C to extract only umami in the leaves for a nice flavor. For Fukamushi-sencha, please drink to the last drop because even the leaves remaining at the bottom of a cup contain full of umami and nutrients.