As we launch our limited edition Japanese Mountain Sencha this month, we thought it was a good idea to delve a little deeper into how to make the perfect cup of sencha green tea. In our humble opinion Japan makes the finest sencha, their meticulous high standard and attention to detail shine through one of their most popular tea types. A tea of such a high quality also deserves a little more care when it comes to how its made, so it can be tasted in its best light.
What is sencha?
In the simplest terms sencha is a type of green tea, but its uniqueness is how its processed after the leaves are picked. In order to make green tea the harvest leaves are heated to 'fix' them to their current state. Normally this is done in large ovens, before they are then dried to give them their hard brittle appearance. What makes sencha different is that the fixing is done by steaming the leaves. This steaming process gives the teas a unique flavour and also tends to hold the chlorophyll compounds making the infusions greener in appearance.
How do the experts brew it?
the most exact brewing instructions are:
1g of tea per 100ml of water
Add water heated to a temperature of 80 degrees
Brew for exactly 2 minutes and not a second more
Agitate the tea leaves slightly half way through the brew time
When brew time is up simply remove the leaves, do NOT squeeze them
You can rebrew the same tea leaves multiple times using the same steps above.
We understand this is pretty high maintenance and some people will enjoy implementing this level of detail to their cup. However if this is a bit overkill for you, then there are more practical ways to get a great tasting brew.
How should a beginner brew it?
A standard mug is roughly 300ml, which equates to about 1 and a half teaspoons of tea. If your using a small mug, then reduce to 1 teaspoon and if its a larger than standard mug use 2 teaspoons of tea.
Assuming you don't have a temperature controlled kettle to provide you with 80 degree water, a simple trick is to add cold water to boiling water at the ratio of 3 parts boiled water to 1 part cold tap water. Just make sure you add the sencha after mixing the two to get the temperature right.
Brew for 2 mins and remove the leaves without squeezing the them
How do I know I've done it right?
Your sencha tea should have a really refreshing mouthfeel with rich grassy notes and hints of salty sea air.
What happens if I don't brew it properly?
It will taste bitter. If you taste any bitterness then the tea has been over-brewed. There are 2 ways to combat this, try adding more cold water to reduce the brewing temperature. Alternatively shorten the brew time to 1 and half minutes.
What makes it taste bitter?
Water is too hot
Brew time is too long
The reason we use lower temperature water is try to extract the best ratio of compounds out the leaves . When the temperature is too high the rate of extraction of compounds like caffeine is faster and this causes the bitterness levels to spike up. A similar thing will happen if you let the leaves brew for too long, the stronger bitter compounds will slowly overpower the more subtle fresher flavours.
Experiment to find your perfect brew
As a general rule of thumb, you are best to err on the side of under- brewed than over-brewed. Don't be afraid to experiment with the brew times and how hot the water is, so you can get your sencha tasting perfect.
Now get out there and start brewing up some delicious sencha green tea. Send us a pic on socials of any masterful brews you manage to make or if your still have problems getting it tasting right.