Sencha is, by far, the most popular and famous green tea from Japan. It is a natural accompaniment to Japanese foods, an elixir touted for its associations with a long life span and low incidence of age-related disease, and (when processed and brewed well) a deliciously flavorful brew. Our Sencha Extra Fine is an exquisite example of a high-grade Japanese green tea.
Buddhist scholars and diplomats were the first to bring tea to Japaan. They acquired tealeaves and tea seeds in China and then returned to share political information or religious teachings… and a newfound love of tea. Initially, all Japanese tea was ground into powder and whisked into a frothy brew. This custom was common in China at the time, but later disappeared there. Japanese Matcha was left behind as an example of a lost Chinese tea processing method, but the manner in which it is enjoyed became a distinctly Japanese tradition over the centuries. In recent years, Japanese tea production and consumption has shifted toward loose-leaf teas, including Sencha, Gyokuro, Houjicha, Kukicha and Genmaicha. Today, Sencha makes up about 90 percent of the tea produced and consumed in Japan.
Like most specialty Japanese green teas, Sencha Extra Fine is plucked in the springtime. After harvest, the leaves are rolled into long, narrow, needle-like shapes and then steamed dry to preserve their fresh, green flavor. The processed leaves then are sorted by size and shape into various grades. Our Sencha Extra Fine is one of the highest grades of Sencha available.
The deep green-blue leaves of Sencha Extra Fine range from about an inch long to small particulate created by the breakdown of the leaves during the steaming process. Dry, they have a richly nutty, toasty aroma with strong oceanic notes and sweet hints of baked peasant bread. The wet leaves develop aromas of steamed asparagus, sautéed kale, sweet baby spinach and open ocean air. The hazy, bright yellow-green brew has a similarly oceanic aroma, but also offers a bittersweet complexity and buttery undertones. Sencha Extra Fine has a bold, balanced flavor with notes of sweet field grasses and seafood broth. A pleasing bittersweet note and light floral tones round out the flavor. A short, bittersweet finish cleanses the palate. Drink Sencha Extra Fine with any type of Japanese food (especially sushi or yakitori), seafood of all kinds, white chocolate or ripe peaches.
No matter how you choose to enjoy your Sencha Extra Fine, take care in brewing it correctly. A little green tea goes a long way, so only use one level teaspoon Sencha per cup of water. Steaming (not bubbling or boiling) water will help you achieve a brew that is enjoyably bittersweet, not harsh or bitter, so be sure to use warm (not hot) water.
One to two minutes of brewing is plenty for a full-flavored infusion. Remove the tealeaves promptly for the best flavor. If you’re used to brewing black tea, it will take a few steepings to get used to this style of brewing, but once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll find it’s a great way to make tea on the go. After all, it’s much quicker to prepare than black tea!
The uniquely fresh flavor and aroma of Sencha Extra Fine is best enjoyed soon after harvest. To save Sencha Extra Fine for later consumption, store your sealed bag of tea in a refrigerator until you are ready to open it. Once opened, the tea should be stored away from light, heat and moisture (for example, in a cupboard) and consumed within a few months.