A Guide to Japanese Sencha Green Tea

Guide Contents:

  • What is Japanese Sencha Tea?
  • How Is Sencha Produced?
  • How Does Deep Steaming Affect Sencha?
  • Sugimoto Tea Company Sencha Teas
  • What People Say About Our Signature Sencha Fukamushi

What is Japanese Sencha Tea?

Sencha is regarded as “Japan’s favorite green tea” because of its popularity. In fact, it takes 80% of the share of tea consumption and comprises the majority of tea produced in Japan.

It’s renowned for having the right balance of sweetness and bitterness with a smooth grassy aroma. However, that’s not to say that all senchas taste alike. Its appearance and taste may vary largely because of three factors -- cultivar(s) used, harvest season, and steaming level.

Sencha comes from “senjicha,” which means “parched tea.” While closely associated with steamed teas, sencha typically only refers to a limited selection of steamed Japanese green teas as described below.

How is Sencha Produced?

Unlike shaded teas such as matcha, kabusecha, and gyokuro, sencha is grown under full sunlight year-round. Because of this, sencha contains a high level of vitamin C and catechins, and is generally lower in L-theanine compared to shaded teas. However, despite this, sencha contains some of the highest levels of L-theanine among all non-shaded Japanese teas (aside from kukicha), and especially compared to teas from any other country.

Japanese greens called “sencha” typically come from first and second harvest leaves. First flush sencha that is harvested at the beginning of and sold shortly after the spring harvest is called“shincha,” and is regarded as one of the best teas of all, known for its superior flavor and quality. When the leaves are harvested later in the summer or fall, they are typically referred to as “bancha” instead.

Once the leaves have been harvested, they go through a steaming process. This is essential in green tea production because it produces the “kill-green” effect, which halts the oxidative enzymes. Without this process, the leaves would oxidize, and become oolong or black tea.

There are three steaming levels based on the duration of the steaming process:

  1. "Asamushi" (浅蒸し): Light steaming
  2. "Chumushi" (中蒸し): Medium steaming
  3. "Fukamushi" (深蒸し): Deep steaming

Farmers choose the specific steaming level based on a number of factors, including their personal preference and what will bring out the best qualities in the leaf.

Most of our tea leaves are grown in Shizuoka where deep steaming is the preferred method. However, our organic leaves are typically light steamed.

How Does Deep Steaming Affect Sencha?

Deep steaming breaks down the tea leaves and their cell walls into differently-sized pieces. This makes the tea appear ‘broken’ or not quite ‘whole leaf’, a necessary side-effect for deeply rich flavor. When brewed, the tea releases small particles, making it appear cloudy. It’s perfectly normal for Sencha Fukamushi to appear cloudy.

In deep steaming, the leaves are steamed for more than twice the steaming time of asamushi, or lightly-steamed, tea. This brings out the umami flavor of the tea, with a richer overall taste and a hint of sweetness. The steaming process is very much an art. It is adjusted day by day to accommodate changes in surrounding air temp and humidity.

When drinking sencha fukamushi, you may notice sediments at the bottom of the tea. Again, this is perfectly normal since these are just the particles that were released from the leaves when the cell walls were broken down during steaming. Consuming these can actually be beneficial to you since you’ll get more of the nutrients in the tea, especially those that aren’t water-soluble such as fiber.

Sugimoto Tea Company Sencha

If you want to enjoy the taste of sencha yourself, we highly recommend our signature Sencha Fukamushi, which gets its unique taste from the final firing process. Compared to industry norms, we use a higher temperature in the final firing process to produce a full-bodied sencha that delivers just the right balance of sweet and bitter with an outstanding aroma.

Check out our sencha green teas, including:

How to Brew Sencha

Want to enjoy a cup of Sugimoto Sencha? Here’s a brewing guide for each of our senchas: 

Tea Type

Amount of Tea

Amount of Water

Water Temperature

Steeping Time

Sugimoto Reserve “Homare” Sencha

2 tsp (5g)

8 oz (240 ml)

175 F° or below

30-60 sec

Sencha Fukamushi

5g (2 tsp)

12 oz (350ml)

175 F° or below

30-60 sec

Sencha chumushi

5g (2 tsp)

12 oz (350ml)

175 F° or below

30-90 sec

Organic Sencha Asamushi

5g (2 tsp)

12 oz (350ml)

175°F or below

1-2 min

Sakura Sencha

5g (1 Tbsp)

12 oz (350ml)

170 F° or above

1-2 min

What People Say About Our Signature Sencha Fukamushi

This is an excerpt of a review from Ricardo Caicedo of My Japanese Green Tea:

“It’s a dark green liquid, and the best part is that the aroma is stronger than that of the loose leaf.

The taste is intense, not like your usual sencha, it has more body and a richer taste. I felt some sweetness, it’s very faint.

Finally, bitterness and astringency are minimal.

I re-infused the tea leaves a second and third time, with good results.

If you find that normal sencha is too weak for your taste, try Sugimoto America’s Sencha Fukamushi. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.”

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