|Other names:||Steeped Tea|
|Quick description:||Very popular in Japan.|
|Temperature:||80°C / 176°F|
|Quantity:||1.5 tablespoons (7-8 grams) per litre|
Sencha (煎茶) is a Japanese green tea, specifically one made without grinding the tea leaves. The word "sencha" means "simmered tea," referring to the method that the tea beverage is made from the dried tea leaves. This is as opposed, for example, to matcha (抹茶), powdered Japanese green tea, in which case the green tea powder is mixed with hot water and therefore the leaf itself is included in the beverage.
Among the types of Japanese green tea prepared by simmering, "sencha" is distinguished from such specific types as gyokuro and bancha. It is the most popular tea in Japan, and represents about 80 percent of the tea produced in Japan. The flavor depends upon the season and place where it is produced, but it is considered that the most delicious sencha is that from the first flush of the year, the shincha "new tea." The shincha season, depending upon the region of the plantation, is from early April to late May (around the 88th day after the spring equinox). It is considered that the ideal color of the sencha beverage is a greenish golden color. Depending upon the temperature of the water in which it is decocted, the flavor will be different, and this also is the appeal of sencha. With relatively not too hot water, it is relatively mellow; with hot water, it is more astringent. Unground tea was brought from China after matcha (抹茶, powdered green tea). Some varieties expand when steeped to resemble leaf vegetable greens in smell, appearance, and taste.
The tea production process by which sencha and other Japanese ryokucha (緑茶, green tea) is created differs from Chinese green teas, which are initially pan-fired (and could probably, therefore, more accurately be called "roasted" teas). Japanese green tea is first steamed for between 15–20 seconds to prevent oxidization of the leaves. Then, the leaves are rolled, shaped, and dried. This step creates the customary thin cylindrical shape of the tea. Finally, the leaves are sorted and divided into differing quality groups.
The initial steaming step imparts a difference in the flavour between Chinese and Japanese green tea, with Japanese green tea having a more vegetal, almost grassy flavour (some taste seaweed-like). Infusions from sencha and other green teas that are steamed (like most common Japanese green teas) are also greener in colour and slightly more bitter than Chinese-style green teas.
Sencha in Japan is drunk hot in the cooler months and usually chilled in the summer months.
Types of sencha
- Jô Sencha (上煎茶), superior sencha.
- Toku Jô Sencha (特上煎茶), extra superior sencha.
- Hachijuhachiya Sencha (八十八夜), sencha harvested after 88 days (respectively nights) after springs begin (risshun).
- Kabuse Sencha or Kabusecha (かぶせ茶), covered sencha. Considered as own type.
- Asamushi (浅虫), light steamed sencha. This tea is steamed only about 30s.
- Chumushi, middle steamed (30-90s). This is the standard steaming time for sencha.
- Fukamushi (深蒸し), deep steamed sencha. This sencha is steamed about 1-2 minutes and also sold as fukamushicha.
- Shincha (新茶) or Ichibancha (一番茶), first picked sencha of the year. 
Sencha tea ceremony
Senchadō (The Formal Art of Sencha Appreciation): Like the formal art surrounding matcha, there is a formal art surrounding sencha, which is distinguished as senchadō (煎茶道). Generally it involves the high-grade gyokuro class of sencha.
- How to Prepare Sencha by Ippodo Tea
- Baisa Baisa (May 2010). The Old Tea Seller: Life and Zen Poetry in 18th Century Kyoto (Large Print 16pt). ReadHowYouWant.com. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-4587-5835-4. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
- Japanese website on "What is Sencha?"
- Illustrated explanation of standard production process for sencha
- Types of sencha http://teapedia.org/en/Sencha/