Tea is arguably the most consumed beverage in the world with an average annual consumption of 6.8 billion tons (12). This data shows just how popular tea is and for good reason too. This drink usually comes loaded with lots of properties and compounds that are potentially beneficial for your health. Sencha tea in particular is known for its supposed ability to help in weight management, increase energy, protect against chronic diseases among others. So what exactly is sencha tea, how is it brewed and what makes it so nutritious? We answer these and other questions in this article.
What Is Sencha Tea?
Sencha tea is indigenous to Japan where it makes up about 80 percent of the country’s total tea production. This Japanese ryokucha (green tea) is brewed from the leaves and top buds of the Camellia sinensis plant. This probably explains its soothing, delicious flavor alongside a myriad of potential health benefits.
The tea has a yellow appearance and gives out a light aroma to complement its bitter-sweet taste. Despite its yellow color, sencha tea falls under green tea grouping since it’s not oxidized during processing. It’s a type of green tea that retains more of its nutrients and active ingredients as compared to other types of tea in this category.
So a discussion should not be about sencha vs green tea since they are technically the same thing. Rather, shouldn’t it be about what makes sencha different from the other varieties?
How Is Sencha Tea Produced?
Many types of tea typically come from the same plant. However, there are some factors that will determine what the final product will be. These include: The geography and climate of where it is grown and the processing procedure of leaves after picking.
That being said, what exactly makes sencha tea different from the rest? This is partly because it’s obtained from the camellia sinensis plant leaves which are cultivated in direct sunlight. This tea can be harvested throughout the year except in winter.
The first harvest each spring called shincha – referring to new tea – is highly valued because of its exceptional freshness. The shoots, leaves and buds of the plants are harvested by hand or in rare cases by machine to produce sencha while the bottom parts are used to make bancha. The upper portions are usually the youngest and as such are considered to be of the best quality.
All green tea has a set of steps that must be followed methodically from harvest to packaging. To produce sencha, the freshly picked leaves are steamed to prevent further oxidation while maintaining their vibrant color and taste. The leaves are then rolled, shaped, dried and prepared for packaging.
Sencha are usually characterized by long thin leaves, however they can also be found in unrefined aracha iterations. This involves removing the stems before packaging and selling the tea. Aracha has the same fresh sencha flavor but features more texture.
Types And Flavor Profile Of Sencha Tea
There are several types of sencha tea on the market that you can choose from. It’s therefore important you learn what makes each type unique to figure out which will best fit your preference.
Light Steamed Sencha (Asamushi Sencha)
This sencha tea is prepared using a light steaming process. As a result, the final product will have a milder flavor as compared to other varieties.
Standard Sencha (Futsu Mushi)
This variety is prepared using the normal steaming process. This results in a delicate and fine balance between all the present flavors. It is characterized by a fresh aroma and the natural sweet-bitter flavor is set in harmoniously to give an earthly overall profile.
Deep Steamed Sencha (Fukamushi-Cha)
This variety is steamed for a little longer in a bid to reduce the tea’s natural astringency. This process results in a more powdered sencha leaf that gives a richer final cup.
Shade Grown Sencha (Kabuse-Cha)
This variety is characterized by a deeper flavor and aroma primarily due to how it’s grown. It’s unique scent results from shading the crop before spring time to prevent the growth of specific amino acids. The process results in a fuller flavor, less tannins and a unique scent which is often the major reason for its production.
Jade Dew Tea (Gyokuro)
This is one of the most unique varieties of sencha tea available out there. It’s also particularly expensive because of the high labor costs incurred and the artistic presentation of a softer leaf. The tea leaf is grown in constant shade in a bid to encourage only tip growth. That’s why it’s only harvested once per year.
This variety is usually stored in high altitudes to maintain its freshness, deepen the flavor and reduce its astringency. Additionally, the kuradashi-sencha is only seasonally available over winter and a ceremonial process is conducted during the opening of this aged leaf.
Sencha Tea Nutrition Facts
Sencha is a type of green tea whose final product varies from producer to producer. While the nutritional profile of sencha isn’t far off from that of other green tea’s, there’s bound to be a few changes. Some of the general nutritional compounds found in green and black tea that can also be found in sencha which contributes to several of its possible health benefits include (11):
- Folic acid
- Vitamin C
According to the USDA database, sencha green tea produced by TEARIOT has the following nutritional profile per 473ml serving (8):
- Calories: 118
- Protein: 4.02 g
- Carbohydrates, by difference: 29 g (10% DV)
- Dietary fiber: 5.68 g (23% DV)
- Sugars: 20 g
- Calcium: 199 mg (20% DV)
- Iron:1.8 mg (10% DV)
- Sodium: 251 mg (11% DV)
- Vitamin C: 78 mg (130% DV)
- Vitamin A: 2250 IU (45% DV)
If you’ve mustered up the courage to crush your weight loss goal, let Betterme take the sting out of this demanding process. Our app will help you restructure your habits, remold your life and crank up your fitness results!
Sencha Green Tea Benefits
With that kind of nutritional profile, you can’t help but wonder what sencha tea benefits can come from them. Let’s find out.
Sencha May Help Stimulate Cognitive Response
Sencha tea has been considered a brain stimulant by different cultures all over the world for a very long time. Scientific evidence suggests that green tea influences psychopathological symptoms such as anxiety, as well as cognition and brain function. Scientists believe that this is due to the combined effects of different components of green tea, such as caffeine and the amino acid L-theanine (7).
Sencha May Have Anticancer Properties
Sencha tea is rich in antioxidants just like most types of green tea. These antioxidants seek out free radicals in your body and thus help in controlling oxidative stress. This epidemiological study done by Kazue Imai, et al. indicates that green tea may help prevent cancer in humans (4).
Plant polyphenols like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea may also aid in inducing apoptosis or cell death in cancerous cells (10). This research also points to the potential ability of green tea to lower the risk of prostate cancer (11). That said, most of these studies are in-vitro and further human studies are required to ascertain the significance of the anticancer properties of green tea (3).
Sencha May Boost Your Energy Levels
Sencha tea contains a rich blend of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and a moderate amount of caffeine which can be a good energy booster. So if you’re looking to increase your productivity without risking the jitters from too much caffeine, this may be a great choice for you (1).
Sencha May Aid In Skin Care
The antioxidant content in sencha tea could be potentially important in keeping your skin bright, radiant and youthful. They may help in protecting and treating damage from UV exposure, which causes hyperpigmentation and fine lines and wrinkles (2).
Sencha Can Potentially Boost Cellular Metabolism
Caffeinated beverages like tea are believed to be good at stimulating your overall metabolism. Phenolic compounds in green tea such as catechins might also play a role in lipid and glucose metabolism in the body. This may then translate into increased fat burning capabilities by your body. Sure, it doesn’t have as much caffeine as one cup of coffee, but it’s more than some other tea varieties (2). This property has made it a welcomed addition to several weight-loss diets.
Sencha May Reduce The Levels Of Bad Cholesterol In Your Body
Some animal studies have shown that green tea such as sencha tea can potentially lower Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) levels which is largely considered to be bad for your health. This is linked to the presence of catechins in the tea which may affect lipid metabolism. When this happens, fat absorption is lowered and by extension cholesterol and triglyceride levels. So sencha tea can help accelerate weight loss and protect against many cardiovascular complications such as atherosclerosis (2).
Sencha Can Potentially Boost Your Immunity
Sencha contains significant amounts of vitamin C alongside other antioxidants which are helpful for your immune system. Studies have also suggested that tea stimulates the production of white blood cells which are crucial in fighting off infections. They can also help in speeding up healing if you come down with a flu or common cold (2).
Sencha May Lower Blood Pressure
Studies have indicated that despite the caffeine in green tea, it may be instrumental in lowering blood pressure. This in turn reduces excessive strain on your heart. People who have a high risk factor of getting hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases can find sencha tea to be particularly beneficial (11).
Sencha Can Be Used To Improve Dental Hygiene
This green tea has significant amounts of fluorine which is known for its ability to prevent cavities and strengthen your teeth. Additionally, sencha can help in eliminating bad breath as it protects your mouth from various bacteria (5).
Sencha May Be Used In Aromatherapy
Some sencha tea extracts are essential in aromatherapy due to their potential stress-relieving and mood-boosting properties. This may even be why they are commonly used in soaps, lotions, incense and scented candles (9).
Sencha Tea Side Effects
Sencha tea, like all other green tea, is considered safe for consumption in moderate amounts. This is also the case when it’s used as skin ointments for over the short-term or when used as mouthwash. There has, however, been some reported cases of stomach upsets and constipation and in some very rare cases cause kidney and liver problems (6).
When consumed in high-doses or used for long periods, it can become possibly unsafe. This is usually linked to the significant sencha tea caffeine content which in excess can lead to (6):
- Sleep problems
- Irregular heartbeats
- Ringing in the ears.
Green tea can also interfere with the absorption of iron from food in your body when used in excessive quantities. If you’re using any of these drugs, consult your doctor before using sencha green tea because of possible drug interactions (6):
- Quinolone antibiotics
- Birth control pills
- Hepatotoxic drugs
- Beta-adrenergic agonists
Reasons why BetterMe is a safe bet: a wide range of calorie-blasting workouts, finger-licking recipes, 24/7 support, challenges that’ll keep you on your best game, and that just scratches the surface! Start using our app and watch the magic happen.
How To Make Sencha Tea
Brewing tea should be a fairly simple process. However, when it comes to sencha, there are certain steps and instructions that must be followed to get the best results. Here’s what you need to do to make a healthy cup of sencha tea:
Picking The Right Teaware
Teaware is important for the brewing process to achieve the desired outcome. The pot you’re using should always have lots of room for the leaves to naturally expand during the brewing process. You’ll also need a fine filter to keep out any sediments from the final pour. Japanese pots called kyusu are specifically designed for this process and allows for better leaf unfolding.
Preheating The Water
You should cool your water first before starting the brewing process. This will allow you to attain the best temperature for the exact flavor you want. Use 2 cups to transfer water that is completely boiled back and forth until you reach the desired target temperature (162F-180F). This type of cooling stabilizes the water’s temperature during steeping and it’s believed to aid in air flow resulting in a better, aerated tea.
Brewing The Tea
Once the temperature is properly calibrated, the brewing process should take a fairly short period. It’s recommended using one gram of the tea leaves for every 50 milliliters of water. However, over time as you become better at brewing, you can play around with the ratio to achieve your desired taste.
For the best results, try to find a comfortable temperature point for your tea. Being consistent in the number of times you transfer the water and how soon you remove it from the kettle helps ensure quality in your final product. One minute should be sufficient in getting the most flavor from the tea.
The deep steamed sencha varieties require a little less brewing time of about 45 seconds. Other teas usually need up to 90 seconds of steeping time. However, as you get more experienced, you may want to adjust these brewing times to ones that are best tailored for your needs.
Once you complete the brewing process, slowly and carefully pour the tea into your cup. Try to get out as much tea as possible then pat the back of the teapot to clear any leaves from the filter. Now remove the lid and set the pot at an angle to allow the steam to escape. This stops the leaves from brewing further and as such lowers the risk of aftertaste in future batches.
Re-Steeping The Tea
It’s possible to get 3-5 more steeps from the leaves because of the typically low steeping time involved. To attain the best results brew the next batch at 30 seconds and every subsequent batch at half the previous brewing time. Also try to increase the temperature by 5 degrees every time you brew and remember you’re always free to experiment with the process and find what best suits your needs.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve been looking for the perfect reason to start taking tea then this is it. Sencha is one of the most popular varieties of green tea that provides a delicate balance between flavor and lots of health benefits. The bonus? It’s easy and simple to make meaning you don’t have to be a “pro”. All you need is the tea leaves, and some water!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A minireview of effects of green tea on energy expenditure (2017, pubmed.gov)
- Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review (2010, nih.gov)
- Cancer prevention by green tea: evidence from epidemiologic studies (2013, pubmed.gov)
- Cancer-Preventive Effects of Drinking Green Tea among a Japanese Population (1997, sciencedirect.com)
- Green tea: A boon for periodontal and general health (2012, nih.gov)
- GREEN TEA (2021, rxlist.com)
- Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: A systematic review (2017, pubmed.gov)
- SENCHA GREEN TEA (2021, usda.gov)
- Studies on The Flavor of Green Tea (2014, tandfonline.com)
- Tea and Cancer Prevention (2010, cancer.gov)
- Tea and Health: Studies in Humans (2014, nih.gov)
- Volume of tea consumption worldwide from 2012 – 2015 (n.d., statista.com)