How to brew sencha is a question we are often asked, and in this article we’re going to dive deep into how to brew sencha green tea. We’ll also take a look at what sencha is, how it's made and the history of sencha tea. Without further ado, let’s get started!
How to Brew Sencha Guide
When it comes to brewing sencha tea, or any type of tea for that matter, it comes down to three main factors. Leaf to water ratio, water temperature and brewing time. Let’s keep each of those in mind as we walk through this guide of how to brew sencha.
Step 1: Take 5 grams of sencha tea and place it in the bottom of your kyusu teapot.
Step 2: Pour in 150 milliliters of water at a temperature of between 140-170 degrees fahrenheit. The lower temperature water is better for shaded sencha and the higher temperature is better for unshaded sencha
Step 3: Let the leaves sit undisturbed for 1 minute and keep the lid on so the tea stays warm
Step 4: Pour out the teapot into a glass and let the built in filter sift out the tea leaves and stop the brewing
How long to brew sencha?
The question of how long to brew sencha depends on what type of sencha you are preparing. If it is a typical sencha, 1 minute should be the perfect amount of time. If the tea is a fukamushi or deep steamed sencha, you may only need to brew the leaves for 45 seconds.
The reason for this comes down to the size of the leaf particles. During the longer steaming process, the tea leaves become more brittle, which causes them to break into these tiny leaf fragments. These smaller leaf fragments have a higher relative surface area, so they infuse more quickly into the water.
What is Sencha?
Sencha teas that are steamed for a longer time will take on a deeper green color and more of this steamed vegetable flavor, while shorter steamed senchas will be milder by comparison. These subtle differences can also determine how to brew sencha.
The basic definition of sencha refers to teas that have been steamed, rolled and dried. The steaming method is common across most Japanese green tea types as a way to deactivate the enzymes that cause oxidation. This prevents the teas from turning into a black tea and allows them to retain their natural green colors and flavors.
History of Sencha
In medieval Japan, the primary way to consume tea was in powder form. This early version of matcha was popularized because of its use in the Japanese tea ceremony. This tea was expensive to produce, and soon demand sprang up for a simpler tea that could be enjoyed by people all around Japan that had limited access to teaware.
A farmer named Nagatani soen came along with an important new discovery. He found that by steaming, rolling and drying tea leaves, the flavor could be locked in until the leaves were infused into hot water. The leaves would then open up and release their aroma and flavor all at once into a strong greenish yellow infusion.
This made it possible to enjoy tea with nothing but a cup and a teapot. The tea became known as sencha tea, and it soon overtook matcha as the most common tea type in Japan. Nagatani is known to this day as the father of Japanese green tea, having discovered the most popular type to this day. His childhood home was made into a tourist attraction and a shrine was built nearby in his honor. Larger tea companies from all around Japan donate money to fund the upkeep of this shrine, as a way to pay tribute to the father of Japanese green tea.
How is Sencha Made?
While there are subtle nuances in the production process that can differ from tea to tea, the same basic methods are used to produce each type of sencha tea. The stages of the production process can be broken down by growing, harvesting, and processing. Let’s cover each of them briefly here
When it comes to growing japanese green tea, there are a few factors under the farmers control. First, the climate and soil can have an impact on the final taste of the tea. If the tea plant is grown in a rocky, mineral-rich environment, that will carry through to the final taste. If the tea plant is grown in foggy conditions, or surrounded by tall trees or mountains that block the sun for part of the day, this will cause the tea to produce a slightly sweeter taste.
If the farmer really wants to produce a sweeter sencha tea, they will shade the tea plant before the harvest. While most sencha teas are unshaded, some can be shaded for just a week which is just enough to take away some of the bitterness and render the tea smoother and sweeter.
How and when the tea plant is picked can also impact the flavor. The most desirable part of the tea plant is the top sprouts, and the best time to harvest the leaves is in the early to mid springtime. During the winter months, the tea plant isn’t harvested at all, so it has a chance to build up nutrients from the soil and then it releases them into these fresh green sprouts in the springtime.
The young sprouts are used to make the most sought after teas like matcha, gyokuro and premium sencha. Teas made from the later harvests or the older leaves on the tea plant will be known as bancha and these are the second most popular type of green tea in Japan.
While most of the production process is pretty similar, the one factor that varies widely across different types of sencha teas is steaming. While most senchas are steamed between 40-80 seconds, asamushi senchas are steamed for less than 40 seconds and fukamushi senchas are steamed for more than 80 seconds.
If you see this bright green liquid, the tea is most likely a deep steamed sencha. During the longer steaming process, the tea leaf is broken down, allowing more of it to flow into the cup.
How to Brew Sencha with cold water
One of the benefits of sencha tea is how well it works as a cold brew green tea. When we talk about the bitterness of a green tea, we are talking about the catechins in the leaf. These components are harder to extract, and they require either a higher temperature or a longer brewing time. That’s why when you brew tea too hot or for too long, you end up with more bitterness.
When you use cold water and brew for a longer period of time, you end up with a lot of flavor, but not a lot of bitterness. To create a cold refreshing cup of sencha, just add 5-10 grams of leaves to a pitcher of water, pour in 500ml of room temperature or cold water and let the tea sit for 3 hours. Once the time is up, you can pour out the tea and enjoy your refreshing cold brew!
How long to brew sencha with cold water
You can extract a good flavor from the tea in as little as one hour, but you will find that the best results come at around the 3 hour mark. You can let the tea brew overnight, but sometimes this will make the flavor too strong. Either way, you can keep experimenting until you find a tea that you like.
Best teapot for sencha brewing
If you’re looking for the best teapot to brew sencha, look know further than the kyusu teapot. This is a clay teapot designed to produce the best tasting cup of Japanese green tea. The teapot has a wider base for the leaves to expand and release their flavor into the water. It also has a side handle to make the pouring of the tea easier, and prevent your hands from burning. Finally, the teapot has a built-in filter that automatically sifts out the leaves as you pour.
Final thoughts on how to brew sencha
Because sencha is such a diverse category of teas, there are always going to be slightly different parameters for each type of tea. In general, you want to keep the leaf to water ratio high, the temperature low and the brewing time somewhere around 1 minute. This method should work for most types of Japanese green teas!
If you are looking for the best types of sencha teas to prepare, you can browse our assortment of Japanese green teas. We have some fantastic deep steamed sencha teas like the kasugaen asatsuyu and also some incredible teas for cold brew like the fukamushi yamaga and the shizuku sencha. The shizuku is made by combining sencha leaves with matcha powder and it is considered to be the ultimate tea for cold brew.