When you buy sencha tea, there are a few things you should be looking out for.
In this guide, we are going to show you where to buy Japanese sencha green tea and what to look for when you buy it.
We’ll also share a little bit about our process and how we find some of the best organically grown Sencha in Japan.
Without further ado, let’s get started! 👇
Before we explain where to buy Sencha, what is this tea?
Let’s quickly define what sencha tea is. Sencha is the most commonly consumed green tea in Japan, and it is made from tea leaves that have been steamed, rolled and dried.
In addition to being the most common type of green tea in Japan, it is also the broadest category. Sencha encompasses teas made from different harvests, different cultivars and teas made through different production methods like shading and steaming.
Longer Steaming Time for Sencha
Fukamushi sencha is steamed for a longer time, which gives it a richer green color and a more powerful flavor. Kabusecha on the other hand is shaded for 10-20 days before the harvest, which renders the tea smoother and sweeter. Whatever you are looking for when it comes to flavor, chances are you can find it when you buy sencha tea!
To learn more about how regular sencha tea compares to Fukamushi sencha, you can read all about it in our article Fukamushi vs Sencha.
Where to Buy Sencha Green Tea and what to look for
As we mentioned before, sencha is a broad category. For this reason, before you ask where to buy Japanese sencha green tea, you have to first decide what you are looking for.
There are options for smoother and sweeter teas, more drier and citrusy sencha teas and there are also sencha teas which have a powerful steamed vegetable flavor. Once you know what you’re looking for when it comes to sencha tea buy based on cultivar, shading and leaf appearance.
If you are not just trying to buy sencha tea, but also buy other types of green tea, you can read our guide on 👉 Where to Buy the Best Tea Online
The three main characteristics when you buy sencha
#1 Buy Sencha Tea by cultivar
Just like wine is broken down into different varietals, tea is broken down into different cultivars. These cultivars determine how the tea grows and how it tastes. If you like sweeter sencha teas, you should go for a saemidori sencha.
If you prefer these greener vegetable tasting notes, go for a yutaka midori sencha like the murasaki sencha. Finally, if you are a fan of these savory or “umami” flavors, you can go for the rare gokou cultivar, like the Yame Kabuse sencha
The cultivar used to make the tea and the region in which it was grown should be prominently featured. If the tea is sold as generic “sencha” or “green tea” it can be assumed that this is lower quality.
#2 Buy Sencha Tea by shading
Another thing worth thinking about when you buy sencha tea, is whether or not the tea has been shaded. When the tea plant is exposed to sunlight, it will begin converting theanine into catechins as a protection against the UV light. These catechins can impart a bitter taste on the tea.
If a farmer wants to produce a sweeter tea, he will cover the tea plant with a type of netting for a few days before the harvest. If you are sensitive to bitter flavors, you may want to choose a sencha that has been shaded for a few days after the harvest. If the tea plant is shaded for 3 weeks or more, it can be considered a gyokuro, the most sought after leaf tea in Japan.
If you’re interested in learning more about gyokuro tea and how it compares to sencha, you can read this complete guide to 👉 Gyokuro vs Sencha
#3 Buy Sencha Tea that has nice looking leaves
When you go to buy sencha tea, another thing you can look for is the appearance of the leaves. The sencha teas with darker leaves will tend to have a sweeter taste. This is because during the shading process, not only does the tea plant produce less catechins, but it also produces more chlorophyll to compensate for the lack of sunlight.
You will also want to look for thinly rolled needle shaped leaves, which indicates the sencha tea is produced using a proper rolling process.
Once you buy sencha tea, you will need to know how to prepare it! Take a few seconds to read our complete guide on 👉 How to Brew Sencha
What do we look for when we Buy Sencha Tea
At Nio Teas, it is our mission to find the best tasting, organically grown green tea in Japan and share it with people all around the world. First, we sample teas submitted by small, talented farmers all around Japan. When we find one we like, we prefer to visit the farm in person, to see how the tea is being produced.
When we visit the tea fields, we like to see that the farmers are taking great care in the tea they produce, and also that they are producing the tea using sustainable methods, without the use of pesticides or chemicals. Finally, the only true way to evaluate the teas is by taste, and we often get a second chance to try the teas as we sit and talk with the farmers in person.
An Advantage of Buying Sencha in Person
Another advantage of trying the teas in person is that the farmers also share with us some new teas that we haven’t yet heard of. This process gives us a chance to learn more about Japanese green tea, build long term relationships and test things out before we buy sencha tea.
Where to Buy Japanese Sencha Green Tea Online
If you would like to try some of our curated sencha teas directly from small farmers in Japan, you can get them online at Nio Teas. If you are looking for a good place to start, perhaps try our most popular sencha, the Fukamushi yamaga no sato. This is a deep steamed sencha with a strong yet smooth flavor, and pleasant fruity notes like lychee berry. The tea also works extraordinary well as a cold brew!
If you’re interested in learning more about cold brew green tea, you can find our complete guide on 👉 Cold Brew Green Tea
I hope you have learned a lot about sencha green tea where to buy it and what to look for. If you have any questions about sencha, or green tea in general, please feel free to leave those in the comments below. Until then, we’ll see you next time!