Comparison of Sencha vs Green Tea by a Tea Sommelier

Many people compare Sencha vs Green Tea, but it is crucial to note that sencha is a variety of green tea. While it may be different from other types of green teas, it still meets the basic criteria for what a green tea is. But what are the similarities of Sencha and other green teas? 

In this article, we are going to be defining what sencha is, what a green tea is and the difference between sencha and green tea made outside of Japan. Without further ado, let’s get started!


Before we explain the differences between Sencha vs Green Tea, let's define the terms

So before we dive into the difference between sencha and green tea, let’s begin by defining the what is Green Tea and what is Sencha.

An In-Depth Explanation of Green Tea

Green tea refers to a tea that is unoxidized, which separates it from black tea, a fully oxidized tea. As soon as the tea leaves are picked, they will begin to oxidize naturally, which will change both the color of the leaves as well as the flavor of the tea. In order to stop this oxidation process, the farmer needs to apply heat to the tea leaves almost immediately after harvest.

How is green tea created?

By applying heat to the tea leaves, the enzymes that cause oxidation are deactivated, and the tea is able to maintain more of its greener vegetal flavors. The heat also allows the tea leaves to retain their green color, instead of turning brown like black tea leaves. The name green tea refers to the fact that the leaves are green, not the color of the tea itself. 

The color of green tea can range from golden yellow to a deep shade of green like you see with the fukamushi sencha


Detail explanation about Sencha

Sencha is the most common type of tea in Japan, and it represents a diverse category of Japanese green teas. In general, it refers to tea leaves that have been steamed, rolled and dried. 

Certain Sencha are shaded

Sometimes it is shaded to produce a sweeter tea, but it does not have to be. Premium senchas are typically made from the first harvest as these leaves are the highest in nutrients, while less expensive sencha teas are made from later harvests. 

The shading of the tea, the steaming of the tea and the harvesting of the tea, will all determine the type of sencha being produced. Later on, we will discuss the difference between sencha green tea vs regular green tea like bancha, hojicha, etc.


Is sencha green tea? The answer is yes.  


Sencha Green Tea vs Green Tea made in China

As we mentioned before, heat needs to be applied to the tea leaves after harvest in order to produce a green tea, but what is the difference between sencha and green tea made in China, for example.

In China, the most common way to apply heat to the tea leaves is by roasting them in a hot pan. During this pan roasting process, the tea leaves are imparted with new flavors. The leaves take on these slightly warmer, nutty flavors that you don’t find with Japanese teas like sencha.


What Makes Japanese Tea Unique?

Japanese teas are steamed after harvest. This heating method locks in more of these vegetal flavors. A good way to think of the difference is wok-fried spinach vs steamed spinach. The steamed Japanese green tea leaves take on more of these steamed vegetable notes like edamame, sweet corn and asparagus, which may sound off putting but they can actually make for a very enjoyable and engaging drinking experience.

The heating method is the main difference between sencha and green tea made in China, but how does sencha compare to other Japanese green teas like bancha, hojicha, genmaicha and gyokuro? Let’s learn the difference between sencha green tea vs regular green tea in the next section.


Sencha Green Tea vs Regular Green Tea

Sencha falls somewhere in the middle when compared to other types of Japanese green tea. It is not as premium as teas like Matcha, Gyokuro and Kabusecha and yet it is a bit more special compared to inexpensive Japanese green teas. Let’s take a quick look at the other types of Japanese green teas and see what the difference is between sencha green tea vs green tea like matcha, gyokuro, kabusecha, bancha, genmaicha and kukicha.



Bancha is made from the older leaves of the tea plant. These older tea leaves contain less caffeine and they are higher in minerals. Bancha is a popular tea for the afternoon or evening time because it has a pleasant mild flavor and it is thought to help with digestion. 


Genmaicha is made by mixing toasted rice with tea leaves. It is usually made with bancha leaves, although it can also be made from sencha leaves. This tea has a lower caffeine content and a pleasant cereal note that can be great for cozy afternoons.

To find out more about how genmaicha teas compares to sencha, you can read our article 👉Sencha vs Genmaicha


Kukicha is another popular Japanese green tea that is made from both the stems and the leaves of the tea plant. With the stems comes a lower caffeine content as well as a milder flavor with notes of hay or straw.

If you are interested in learning more about low caffeine green teas, you can find the full list in the article on 👉 Lowest Caffeine Green Teas


Gyokuro is on the higher end compared to sencha tea. This tea is also known as the emperor's tea, as it was once the tea of choice for the emperor himself. This tea is shaded for a full 3 weeks before the harvest in order to develop this powerful sweet and savory flavor.

For a full comparison between Sencha and the higher end version, Gyokuro, you can learn all about it in our article 👉 Gyokuro vs Sencha


Matcha is a powdered green tea. It is made from long shaded tea leaves like gyokuro, but unlike gyokuro, the leaves have their stems removed and then they are ground into a fine powder in a large stone mill. The powdered tea is then mixed directly into water with a bamboo whisk or chasen

If you’re interested in learning more about matcha, you can check out our complete guide on 👉 How is Matcha Made


The Final Verdict about Sencha vs Green Tea

So as you can see, there are a number of different factors in the production process that lead to the difference between sencha green tea vs regular green tea. If you’re interested in trying sencha tea, you can find some great options on our website like the Fukamushi yamaga, a deep steamed sencha made in Shizuoka. This tea has a smooth, yet rich flavor with notes of lychee berry.

After traveling around Japan for the past few years, we’ve met with dozens of farmers and sampled hundreds of different sencha teas. Ultimately, we’ve decided on a small handful, and we are proud to share them with people all around the world. If you’d like to try a bunch of teas at once and find the difference between sencha green tea vs regular green tea, you can check out one of our samplers

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

1 of 4