Sencha caffeine falls somewhere in the middle when compared to high caffeine teas like gyokuro and low caffeine teas like bancha.
In this article, we are going to explore why sencha has caffeine and answer the question how much caffeine is in sencha green tea.
We’ll also take a look at how you can influence the sencha green tea caffeine level based on how you select and prepare the tea. Without further ado, let's get started 👇☕️🍃
Why does sencha have caffeine?
Before we explore the sencha tea caffeine content, let's first answer the question of why does japanese sencha have caffeine. The tea plant produces
caffeine as a defense mechanism to protect itself against insects. Caffeine can be very bitter, or even poisonous to small insects, so the tea plant builds a protective layer around the leaves so they are not as easy of a target.
So now that we have answered why does sencha green tea have caffeine, let's explore what contributes to the sencha tea caffeine content.
How Much Caffeine in Sencha
Sencha can have anywhere between more or less 40mg of caffeine per serving, and that range will depend on the type of tea you use and how its prepared.
Teas like genmaicha can have as little as 12mg per cup, and gyokuro caffeine level can have as much as 140mg per serving, making sencha comfortably in the middle for a Japanese green tea.
After learning about how much caffeine in sencha, we can now explore the different things you can do to get a sencha that is higher or lower in caffeine :
Some tea varieties or cultivars will have more caffeine than others. The common Yabukita cultivar will have less caffeine than a sencha made from the saemidori cultivar for example.
In the first brewing, you will get the highest amount of sencha caffeine. This is because you are stripping off the outer layer of the tea, which as we discussed before is where most of the caffeine is. But does japanese sencha tea have caffeine in the second and third infusion? It does, but the caffeine will be significantly reduced.
If you want to learn how to brew the best cup of sencha tea, you can follow the 👉 How to Brew Sencha step by step guide
The final factor that influences sencha caffeine is the temperature of the brewing. Caffeine is one of the chemical components of green tea that requires higher temperatures to extract. If you use lower temperature water, or cold brew your green tea, the resulting brew will be much lower in caffeine.
Why is the sencha caffeine content so high?
When people ask does sencha have a lot of caffeine, the answer requires some context. The sencha caffeine content can be considered relatively high in the world of tea as a whole, but it is middle of the pack when it comes to Japanese green teas. By the way, if you're interested to know which teas have the highest caffeine level, we invite you to read the article 👉 Which tea has the most caffeine.
It doesn’t have as much caffeine as the heavy hitters like ceremonial matcha, gyokuro and kabuse sencha, but it does have more caffeine than hojicha, kukicha, bancha and genmaicha. Sencha tends to have more caffeine than typical teabag teas, both green and black.
The reason the sencha tea caffeine content is so high has to do with how the tea is grown and harvested. While most sencha teas are unshaded, there are a few that are covered in netting a week or more before harvest. This will boost the caffeine level slightly.
How picking affects the sencha green tea caffeine level
In addition to shaded teas being higher in caffeine, teas made from the younger leaves will also pack a higher caffeine content. This is because the younger leaves are more tender and therefore more vulnerable to insects. The tea plant will produce more caffeine around the younger leaves compared to the tougher, more mature leaves and stems.
These younger leaves are the sweetest in flavor and the richest in nutrients, so they are used in all the most sought after Japanese teas like matcha, gyokuro, kabusecha and of course sencha. Older tea leaves are used to make low caffeine teas like bancha, genmaicha and hojicha, and the stems are used to make kukicha, another low caffeine Japanese green tea.
If you're interested in learning more about how tea is harvested, and why it matters, you can read all about it in our 👉 Complete Guide About Tea Harvesting
Sencha Tea Caffeine Content compared to other teas
Low Caffeine Teas compared to Sencha Caffeine
The sencha tea caffeine is significantly higher than teas like bancha, genmaicha, kukicha and hojicha. Let's do a quick comparison tea by tea to have a better understanding of caffeine level of each of them.
But if you really interested in learning more about low caffeine green teas, you can find our complete guide here 👉 8 Lowest Caffeine Tea: from Lowest to Highest
Bancha is made from the older leaves of the tea plant, which tend to be significantly lower in caffeine. For this reason, bancha is a popular choice as an afternoon or evening tea. It has a pleasant mild flavor and a higher mineral content to help with digestion.
Genmaicha is also lower in caffeine than sencha. This tea is not only made with older tea leaves, but also with little pieces of toasted rice. Because the rice doesn’t contain any caffeine, it lowers the overall caffeine content, while also adding a pleasant cereal flavor.
If you want a complete comparison between genmaicha and sencha, you can find it in our article 👉 Sencha vs Genmaicha
Kukicha is another popular Japanese green tea that is quite low in caffeine. It's made with the stems of the tea plant, which contain only ⅓ the caffeine content of the leaves.
Sencha Caffeine Compared to High Caffeine Teas
Matcha, Gyokuro and Kabusecha are higher in caffeine compared to sencha. Not only are these teas made from the youngest leaves of the tea plant, they are also shaded for weeks before the harvest. This also reduces the bitterness of the tea, and increases the sweet and savory flavor. Gyokuro needs to be shaded for 3 weeks before the harvest, making it the highest caffeine green tea.
If you are interested in learning more about the difference between Gyokuro and Sencha, you can read all about it in our 👉 Gyokuro vs. Sencha Differences and Comparisons Guide
So does sencha have a lot of caffeine? That all depends on what you compare it to!
So, does sencha have caffeine? Yes!
Next time, if you hear someone ask does sencha tea contain caffeine, you can tell them that sencha caffeine depends on a variety of different factors, but overall it is a relatively high caffeine tea.
I hope this article has finally helped you answer the question does sencha tea have caffeine. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below 👇