Sencha tea is the most popular loose-leaf tea consumed in Japan, capturing 80% of the total tea production. Its final formis a rolled leaf that – when infused in hot water – delights the senses with a blend of bitter and sweet tastes, a mild refreshing aroma, and a greenish golden color.
Japanese Sencha is produced in the same way now as it was in the 18th Century, using only the top leaves of the plant, which are the youngest. The best quality leaves are usually harvested in early spring, between April and May. Unlike Chinese green teas that are first pan-fired, Japanese Sencha is steamed right after harvesting to prevent oxidation. The steamed green tea leaves are then rolled, shaped like cylindrical straight needles and dried. The dry leaves are finally sorted according to their quality.
Even when they both come from the same green tea plant, camellia sinensis, Sencha tea differs from matcha in how it is produced and in its health benefits. Sencha green tea leaves grow in direct sunlight whereas matcha green tea plants are shaded before harvesting. The exposure to intense sunlight throughout its entire life cycle can decrease the amount of chlorophyll in the tea but increases its levels of vitamin C, beta-carotene, folic-acid-saponins, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. This process also boosts Sencha benefits by multiplying its levels of catechins, antioxidants known for supporting healthy cells, the immune system and healthy fat oxidation.
Sencha green tea has less caffeine than matcha, yet its balanced blend of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, caffeine, and amino-acids like L-theanine, make it a very effective natural energy booster with anti-stress effects. Hence, its nickname: “king” of green teas.
Another key difference has to do with the way they are made and prepared. On one hand, Matcha is the powdered form of the green tea leaf that is whisked with hot water. On the other hand, Japanese Sencha is the whole leaf, which is infused in hot water. The flavor, aroma, and texture are, therefore, quite different.
People are looking for sugar-free beverages with organic and natural ingredients that do not have added flavors or artificial sweeteners. The beverage trends show a consistent rise in naturally brewed tea like Sencha because its final taste is sweeter than any other drinks made from tea extracts without the need of added sweeteners. It is also packed with nutrients, gives you a healthy boost and is a naturally low-calorie drink. The RTD beverage trend Forecast 2017 predicts Sencha green tea is the next drink to come into the limelight. “It is actually the most popular tea in Japan, so it is interesting that it has yet to show up in the US in a bigger way.”
As wholesale tea distributors, Ikeda Tea World offers high-quality organic Sencha in many different packing options for wholesale and retail. Private label sencha is also available. If you are a major tea retailer or distributor, we specialize in bulk sencha tea, which typically comes in a 30kg air sealed aluminum pack. Be prepared to fall in love with Sencha tea.