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How well do you know your sencha?

Written on March 31, 2021

Matcha may be the most well-known Japanese green tea in North America today, but when it comes to a daily brew, nothing is more quintessential than sencha. 80 percent of tea in Japan is made into this loose leaf style, which provides a perfect balance of sweetness, umami, and refreshing astringency. See why we at Ippodo love this classic tea!

What is sencha?

Only young, tender spring tea leaves grown in Kyoto Prefecture are selected for Ippodo’s house sencha blends. After picking, fresh leaves are steamed in a process that halts oxidation, contributing to the crisp green character of Japanese green tea. Then the leaves are rolled into delicate needle shapes, gently dried, sorted, and packaged.

Unlike matcha and gyokuro, sencha tea bushes are cultivated in direct sunlight, which makes them uniquely high in vitamin C as well as tannins that result in a crisp, structured tea. And since sencha is made from young spring leaves, it has an inherent sweetness as well, leading to a balanced brew that shows everything that’s great about Japanese green tea.

How do I brew it?

Sencha is a delicate tea to savor alone or share with good friends, but be careful: overly hot water or oversteeping can lead to a bitter cup. For a balanced brew, measure out 2 tablespoons (about 10 grams) for a 7 to 8 ounce (210ml) standard size Japanese teapot, called a kyusu. If you use a larger Western-style teapot (around 16 ounces or larger), we recommend starting with 3 tablespoons (about 15 grams) and adjusting the proportions to your taste.

Sencha is best brewed with hot but not boiling water: 176°F (80°C). But if you don’t have a thermometer, don’t worry; just pour boiling water into your teacups, then pour from those cups into your pot over the leaves. The two pours will cool your water down enough for brewing. Steep for 60 seconds, then strain evenly between cups. Be sure to pour out every last drop to fully extract the tea’s flavor. You can re-steep the same leaves once or even twice to get the most out of your precious purchase.

How to Prepare

Pot of Sencha
Standard Brew
1. Measure the leaves
2 tbsp. (10 g / 0.35 oz)
2. Add hot water
80°C (176°F)
210 mL (7 oz)
Cool water to 80°C by transferring once
3. Brew
60 seconds
4. Serve
Pour out every last drop

Or go iced: There are two ways to brew sencha for iced tea. For drinking right away, you can pour a concentrated steeping over ice. With more planning, you can cold brew sencha as well.

Iced Sencha

Choose your style

Our master blenders produce seven blends of sencha. All are made with high quality leaves and are processed the same way, but small differences in how they’re grown lead to distinct characters in the cup. Ippodo sencha with a higher price isn’t necessarily better quality; the choice is really about your own personal tastes

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