Japanese Patterns of Design

Sencha Green Tea Benefits/Side Effects and Where You Can Buy

Photo by Christine Wehrmeier on Unsplash

The Sencha green tea is a type of green teas as the name suggests, which aren’t fermented and therefore it keeps its fresh green color that is cultivated with a lot of sunlight. It is the most popular type of Japanese green tea. It dominates 80% of Japanese tea production and no one can escape having a cup of sencha if one’s in Japan. The refreshing flavor and balanced sweetness and bitterness are loved by everyone.

Table of contents

What Is Sencha Green Tea?

By Difference engine – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60355517

Before you see about sencha green tea, let’s have a clear definition of what is “green tea” firstly. The green tea is a type of Japanese tea that is not fermented after the harvest. These green tea leaves contain a lot of tannins that taste bitter. We will take a look at the benefit of tannin later.

Tea catechins, produced in tea leaves with exposure to a lot of sunlight, are increased that has unique bitterness. While it contains theanine which has a sweet taste (more specifically, umami flavor), a higher amount of catechin cancels the sweetness that theanine produces. (Matcha, green tea made of tencha, contains a lot of theanine on the contrary)

The harvest time for sencha is in April and May that equals 1st flush of black tea. But daily sencha you see at grocery stores or convenience stores should be “2nd flush” that are reasonably priced ones.

Brief History of Sencha

The Sencha green tea that has a beautiful green color you see today is considered to be originated by Souen Nagatani (永谷宗円) in 1738.
He was a tea farmer in Tahara, Uji, Kyoto. Before Souen, the sencha widely consumed among ordinary people was a brown color that was not considered to be of high quality. Souen developed the new method of processing sencha by steaming and rubbing on a tool called “Hoiro” (roaster, drier) that changed the whole game of sencha. This new method made it possible to retain its beautiful vivid green color and brings out the best taste and flavor to the sencha green tea.

This newly developed sencha spread like a fire in Edo and Kinki, soon became the standard of the sencha. That’s why Souen Nagatani is called as an originator of sencha green tea.

Both green tea and black tea are made from the same tea tree, they go through the different process, fermented or not, that makes the difference. The fermented tea is called black tea. It is quite amazing the same tea leaf can be green tea or black tea and have quite a different color, taste, and flavor.

Sencha Processing

They are processed with heat (steam) to stop oxidation. Then they are rubbed carefully to keep its shape until the moisture they contain to a low level. Many varieties of Japanese teas are processed with steam that makes them keep the vivid green color. Green teas are produced all around the world, however, the processing with steam is quite unique to Japan while other countries make them with roast and roll method.

Fukamushi Sencha (Deeply Steamed Sencha)

While general sencha takes about 30 to 40 seconds of steaming time, however, “Fukamushi sencha” (Deeply steamed sencha) takes 60 to 120 seconds of steaming that makes their tea leaves softener. When you pour Fukamushi sencha, these softer leaves that have been steamed longer bringing out more flavors of the tea, deeper green color, and stronger taste.

Sencha Green Tea Benefits

  • Fluorine and Tannin: Strengthen Teeth
  • Fluorine and Tannin sencha contain prevents one from developing decaying tooth with tooth strengthening and bacteriocidal effect. Some say letting children having a cup of green tea would reduce the rate of decaying teeth in half.

  • Support Losing Weight
  • The sencha green tea can be consumed without sugar, so you don’t have to worry about the intake of sugar compared to other beverages. Additionally, tannin sencha contains improved the function of enzyme that decompose oil. It’s good to have a cup of sencha between meals to suppress one’s appetite.

  • Lowering Blood Pressure
  • Sencha contains a substance that inhibits production of blood pressure elevation. Additionally, drinking sencha can increase HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol aka good cholesterol) and prevents one from developing arteriosclerosis.

  • Reducing Blood Glucose Level
  • It’s proven that the blood glucose level of diabetics is reduced by drinking green tea. Tea polyphenol supports reducing the blood glucose level in one’s body.

  • Kills Bad Breath
  • Drinking green tea after a meal can wash away bits of food left on teeth and gum. That would prevent one from having bad breath and the bacteriocidal effect keeps bacteria cultivation at bay. Your mouth would feel clean and the scent and flavor of green tea refresh your mouth and breath.

  • Boosting Brain and Body Function
  • Tea catechin stimulates one’s central nervous system such as cerebrum that boosts the ability both of intellectual and physical activity. In addition to that, due to its cardiotonic action and diuresis quality, it can stabilize one’s state of mind that would strengthen the ability of decision-making and retaining of memory. Moreover, it’s said Vitamin C that sencha contains has a relation to a high level of I.Q.

  • Anti-aging Effect
  • Vitamin E that sencha contains prevents one from developing free radicals and peroxidized fat that damages one’s body from inside. Also, green tea has an inhibitory effect on mutation and antioxidative effect.

  • Improving Gut Health
  • Again, tannin in sencha improves the function of the stomach and bowel movement that would support you have a smooth movement every day.

  • Adjusting Physical Condition by Fixing PH Level
  • Minerals in green tea prevents one from turning one’s body acidic. The human body can function healthily while one keeps its PH level alkaline. Many people, however, tend to have excess amount of high calorie food that would turn PH level acidic. That’s where sencha green tea comes and help to balance its PH level. In addition to that, Vitamin C that sencha contains can boost one’s power of resistance to virus infection, one cay stay healthy by not catching cold or heals faster.

Sencha Green Tea Side Effects

These three nutrients we’ve listed here can work all positively when consumed in a moderate amount. (This “moderate” amount can be five to 10 cups of sencha a day if one is already healthy). But with anything else, too much good thing can cause a problem. So they can’t be your problem when you consume it in your scope of moderate amount.

  • Caffeine
  • While caffeine has many benefits, too much of it can cause oversensitivity, sleep disorder, face stiffening, vomiting, and problems with stomach. According to WHO, the limit of intake of caffeine a day is 300mg. Caffeine in a cup of green tea (100g) is about 20mg so having 10 cups of it shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Tannin
  • Tannin is a type of polyphenol which has various favorable functions, however, too much intake or the timing of drinking of green tea can cause you to have anemia. Tannin is easily connected to metals in food one consumes, so too much of it prevents one’s body from absorbing iron. For the sake of not having this probelm, drinking sencha between meals, but not right before or after would help.

  • Oxalic Acid
  • Sencha green tea contains oxalic acid which can be found in many foods specifically in high amount in banana, spinach, nut, and so on. Too much oxalic acid can cause you do develop urinary stone. Consuming calcium would help one from having a problem since it connects to oxalic acid and prevents it from absorbing in one’s gut.

Where You Can Buy Sencha Green Tea

sencha tea leaves https-::www.flickr.com:photos:norio-nakayama:14074803985:

Maiko Tea Japan

They offer you a variety of Sencha come in handy tea bags and loose-leaf. There are star ratings of sweetness, astringency, umami, and aroma (flavor), so you can have a clear idea of what you’re going after and what you can expect.

IPPODO TEA Online Shop

Ippodo Tea Store is one of the most trusted Japanese tea stores. They offer you a variety of Japanese teas on-site and online. You can choose your sencha based on your preference either rich, balanced, or light.

O-Cha.com

Their green teas are packaged within a very short time frame (days) of any customer’s order, they offer you the freshest green tea one can buy online by their effort to package the products within a few days after a customer place an order. The founder of O-Cha.com frequently visits the tea-growing regions, select the teas that would satisfy anyone who seek the best Japanese teas.

How to Prepare Sencha

  1. Put sencha green tea leaves into a teapot
    You can make two cups with 4g but you can always check the instruction on the package of your sencha green tea or you can adjust the amount of tea to your preference.
  2. Always use freshly boiled water
    The best temperature for making sencha green tea is about 80℃, so you can achieve that by transferring the hot water once or twice to other container. You can still make your sencha green tea with water above 80℃, however, that makes the tea extracts more bitterness and less umami (sweetness). So if you want to enjoy the umami flavor, make sure to have your water temperature around 80℃ that would bring out the all umami flavor at its best.
  3. Pour the warm water into a pot, make it stand for 30 seconds, then pour it into a cup. The tip is to pour it into cups (suppose you make two cups) equally by degrees and make sure you pour the last drop of tea.

Water
The best water for making sencha green tea is soft water. You can use tap water but always make sure to boil it before use to remove chlorine. Hard water is not preferable since it contains a lot of minerals that can alter the taste of the tea. They react with catechins and caffeine the tea contains and that makes the taste bland and reduce its flavor.

Water Temperature
As we’ve shared above, the best temperature for making sencha green tea is 80℃. If you prefer the bitter taste, you can use higher temperature water to make it to your preference.

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Have you found your favorite sencha here? What’s your favorite style of drinking sencha, with some sweet stuff or salty crackers? Share your experience of sencha with us!

Hiroko Matsuyama

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