Sencha – The Other Green Tea

By Alexandra Hoover

Green tea is one of the most ubiquitous teas on the market. Tasty, full of antioxidants, and recognizable to all tea drinkers, green tea is a favorite among many tea enthusiasts.  In fact, it is precisely for these reasons that green tea is often taken for granted.  As green tea is so familiar to us all, you may ask, “How much variety can green tea have?”

Sencha green tea is a unique Japanese green tea produced without grinding leaves.  Sencha differs from Chinese green tea inasmuch as it is steamed for half a minute before the leaves are rolled and dried.  Although sencha means “roasted tea,” it is not pan-fried like Chinese green tea.  Instead, sencha is fired after the leaves have been dried.

What is the difference between green tea leaves that have been initially fried, opposed to leaves that have been fired after they were dried?  One can definitely note this dissimilarity in the taste of sencha.  Sencha tastes a little like seaweed but with creamy overtones.  It is especially delicious with agave or cream, as it possesses a slight creamy, vegetal quality.

In addition to its unique taste, sencha offers health benefits including cancer fighting antioxidants and theanine.  While antioxidants help eliminate free radicals, theanine is an amino acid.  Theanine is useful for one’s body inasmuch as it creates calming effects in the brain.  It is not common in nature but can also be found in the basidiomycete mushroom, Boletus badius.

To consume 100-200 mg of theanine, drink three cups of sencha a day.  This unique amino acid found in sencha has been found to help the body’s immune system.  On a similar note, in a trial conducted by Johns Hopkins University, gophers given theanine showed increased cognition and memory.  Sencha is worth a try (especially if you have forgotten your keys too many times).

One thought on “Sencha – The Other Green Tea

  1. extrarice

    Sencha has a reputation for being a “fussy” tea – one that can be difficult to make without turning out bitter. Here are a few tips if you are new to sencha preparation:

    -Like most other tea, loose-leaf sencha yields a better cup than bagged sencha.

    -Sencha is a very delicate tea and requires a cooler temperature for steeping: Try starting with 170 degrees F for two minutes. If it still comes out bitter, drop the temperature to 165 and steep for 1:30, or maybe even 1:00.

    -Give as much room as possible for the leaves to expand in the water. A kyusu-style teapot is ideal (and it is much easier to make sencha with than a Western-style teapot).

    -If you are used to Chinese-style green teas, the grassy flavor of sencha may be a little unexpected. But give it a try without any additions to savor the clean flavor.

    Keep these tips in mind as you explore the vast world of sencha!

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