by Stacey Norwood
Harvested in early spring, sencha is a traditional Japanese tea that is delicate in color but bold in flavor. This popular green tea is a perfect pick for the season and pairs beautifully with both savories and sweets.
Sencha accounts for about three-quarters of the leaf produced in Japan's tea-growing regions.
- Characterized by a deep emerald color, sencha is noted for its needle-shaped leaves. It is available in high, medium, and low grades.
- Higher-grade sencha comes from the tender top shoots of the tea plant and is plucked by hand. Lower-grade or less-expensive sencha is often machine harvested.
- Sencha is prepared for consumption first by steaming the leaf to prevent oxidation, then rolling it either by hand or machine into its signature shape.
- The aroma of sencha varies with the grade. Top-shelf sencha is noted for its delicate, sweet, and lingering fragrance.
- Sencha produces a lightly golden liquor that is bright, crisp, and typically assertive in taste.
- The flavor profile is vegetative, with notes that range from grassy to kelpy. Top notes are frequently described as clean, sweet, and faintly bitter.
Sencha pairs well with seafood dishes of all types, as well as steamed rice, broth soups, baked bread, and mildly flavored cheeses.
- Sencha also matches well with many sweets, milk chocolate in particular, as well as fruit-based dishes.
- Sencha is equally refreshing hot or over ice.
Sencha Brewing Tips
FOR COLD TEA
- Place 3 tablespoons sencha in a disposable tea sack, and infuse the tea in a pitcher of filtered water in a refrigerator overnight.
FOR HOT TEA
- Heat cold filtered or spring water to about 180°, or bring to a boil, then cool for 1 to 2 minutes.
- For a weaker infusion, use about 1 teaspoon of leaves per 6-ounce cup.
- For a stronger cup, use up to 2 tablespoons.
- Steep for 1 to 2 minutes; leaves may be steeped again for a second cup.