Tea Tuesday: Sencha vs. Matcha Tea
In previous posts, we have explored the ancient art of the Japanese tea ceremony. But, today we’ll focus on the tea itself.
Tea is probably the most consumed beverage in Japan, and has been an important part of Japanese food culture for centuries, dating as far back as the ancient empires in the 700s.
There are several different types of tea that are commonly drunk in Japan each day, but by far the most popular is green tea, which is the key element in the traditional tea ceremony. From temples to gardens to vending machines, you’ll find tea served in all walks of life across all social classes in Japan in both cold and hot form.
Two very well known Japanese green teas that you may even be familiar with are sencha and matcha. The names sound similar, which could be confusing, but each has certain defining characteristics, which you’ll learn here.
Sencha is a traditional green tea produced across Asia, not just in Japan, and it accounts for about three quarters of the green tea produced in Japan.
In terms of cultivation, sencha tea is grown in tea fields, the plants have plenty of exposure to sunlight, and the leaves are steamed to prevent fermentation.
When it comes to preparation, our recommendation is to brew 4 teaspoons of Sencha in 1 and ¾ cup of boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Once steeped, sencha tea is greenish yellow in color, has a mellow body, and a slightly earthy flavor.
Matcha is the type of tea synonymous with the Japanese tea ceremony, and is grown only in Japan.
In contrast with sencha, matcha tea bushes are grown in shade 2-3 weeks prior to harvest in order to make the plants turn a deeper shade of green, and produce larger, thinner leaves. This ultimately results in better flavor and texture.
Harvesting is done by hand, and the younger leaves from the top of the plant are selected. These leaves are stripped of their veins and stems, steamed to prevent fermentation, air-dried, and finally, stone-ground into a fine powder which is called matcha.
Making traditional matcha tea is a little different process than you may expect, as it is a powder. In order to produce the best results, there are specific tools that are commonly used—a bamboo whisk and a tea bowl.
Using a small sifter, sift 1-2 teaspoons of the matcha powder into a cup, add hot water, whisk it vigorously until the tea is frothy, and you can enjoy it straight from the bowl or pour it into a cup. Matcha was originally used specifically for tea, but nowadays, it’s used to make smoothies, cocktails, shakes, and more.
At CoffeeAM, our Mocafe Matcha Green Tea Mix makes this process much simpler, and it still has the authentic flavor. Just blend the powder with water or milk, and serve according to taste.
Have you tasted either of these delicious Japanese teas? If not, please visit us today and try some for yourself. Be sure to tell us which one you prefer and why in the comments section, and drop by again for another cup of coffee culture.