What does sencha tea taste like? This is the most common question we get asked about sencha, the most popular type of tea in Japan.
In this article, we are going to take a deep dive into what does sencha taste like and what types of flavors you may notice in the sencha taste.
We’ll also take a look how distinct phases in the production process can lead to differences in the Japanese sencha tea taste.
Let’s get started! 💚🍃
What Does Sencha Tea Taste Like Explained in video
What Does Sencha Green Tea Taste Like
The Japanese sencha tea taste is difficult to describe, but we will try our best.
Because the leaves are steamed after harvest, you may notice tasting notes of sweet corn, edamame, miso soup and baby spinach in the tea.
You may also notice some dryness or astringency in certain sencha teas.
This can be experienced as a citrusy lemon or grapefruit.
You may even notice a starchy cereal or rice note with some of the teas, which can be among the most challenging to describe.
Now that we answered the question, let's try to understand behind these different aromas.
Without further ado, let's get started! 👇
But what is Sencha exactly?
Sencha is the most common type of green tea consumed in Japan, but it is a very broad category as we will discuss later. It generally refers to tea leaves that have been steamed, rolled and dried.
You may notice the dried leaves of sencha tea take on these thin, needle shapes.
This is meant to lock in the sencha taste until it is infused into water. Once the leaves are submerged into water, they will begin to gradually expand and release their flavor into the water.
If you want to see how the most popular tea in Japan compares to the second most popular tea, you can read are article on 👉 Sencha vs Bancha
But where does this Japanese sencha tea taste come from? In the next section, we will dive into the factors that influence the sencha taste.
How the production affects the Japanese Sencha Tea Taste
To understand the Japanese sencha taste, you have to understand the production process of Japanese green teas.
There are different production methods that make these green teas different from Chinese green teas, and we will cover them shortly here.
Some sencha teas are shaded prior to the harvest, which can actually make the sencha taste sweeter and more savory.
When the tea plant is exposed to sunlight, it will begin to convert its theanine into catechins, as a protection against the UV light.
These catechins are responsible for the bitter sencha taste, so if a farmer wants to produce a sweeter tea, they will shade the plants for a few days before the harvest.
By cutting the tea plant off from sunlight, the farmer is able to reduce the catechins in the tea, and maximize the sweet and savory theanine.
If you’re interested in learning more about the different chemical components in green tea, you can read this article on 👉chemical composition of green tea
The leaves used to make the tea will also impact the Japanese sencha taste. For most sencha teas, the farmer will use the youngest sprouts of the tea plant.
These tend to be the sweetest and smoothest in flavor, and they have the highest concentrations of nutrients.
If you’re interested in learning more about how tea is harvested, you can find our complete guide to the tea harvest here
One factor that makes Japanese green tea unique from Chinese green tea is that the leaves are steamed after the harvest.
This tends to lock in more of the fresh steamed vegetable characteristics. The pan firing method common for Chinese green teas would impart more of this nutty or roasted flavor, but you don’t see that so much in the sencha taste notes.
If you want to learn more about the tea production process, you can read all about it in our guide 👉How is Tea Made
Different kinds of Sencha Tastes
Long Shaded Sencha
Long shaded sencha teas like kabusecha can be incredibly sweet and smooth.
These teas are shaded for between 10-20 days, which can really reduce a lot of their bitterness.
If you are sensitive to these drier or more bitter flavors, this may be a good tea to try.
While most teas are steamed for between 40-80 seconds, fukamushi sencha teas are steamed for longer.
During the longer steaming process, the tea leaves are broken down, allowing more of them to flow into the cup, creating a vibrant green color and a rich, vegetal flavor.
The deep steaming process also renders the tea smoother, and in some cases, fruitier.
A guide to Sencha Taste Notes
When it comes to describing the sencha taste notes, you can first focus on the physical sensation of the tea.
Does it dry out your palate, or is it slightly sweet. As you become more experienced, you can start to discuss where on your tongue you notice the flavors, the top, the back or the sides.
These more physical cues will be the first thing you notice when you drink the tea.
The Finish of the Sencha Taste
Next, you can focus on the finish of the tea. Does it leave you with a long, mouthwatering astringency, or is the finish relatively short. In general, you tend to want a tea that has a longer finish to it.
Finally, you can look for some of the more complex sencha taste notes. Start off broad like “steamed vegetable” and then narrow it down to something like “baby spinach” or “artichoke”.
There may be more than a few, so try to name as many as you can. A few categories to choose from are floral, nutty, marine, earthy and fruity.
Is Sencha Tea Supposed to Taste Bad
Some people say that the Japanese sencha tea taste smell like grass or that it is too bitter, and there may be a few things you can do to fix this.
If you’re using too high of a water temperature, you will extract more bitterness from the tea, and it will end up with a very unpleasant flavor.
So if you’re wondering why your sencha tastes a bit off, you may want to follow this brewing guide.
Recommended Brewing to Make Sencha Taste Good
We recommend using a temperature of 140-160 degrees fahrenheit and a brewing time of 1 minute.
If you brew the tea too hot, or for too long, you will end up with a more bitter sencha tea taste. If your sencha tastes bitter even with the proper brewing, it may be time to get a new one! We recommend going for a sweeter sencha like the Sencha Henta Saemidori
If you’re interested in learning more about the bitterness of green tea, you can read the article 👉 why green tea is bitter and what you can do to reduce the bitterness
Final thoughts on What Does Sencha Taste Like
During our travels, we’ve met with dozens of farmers and sampled hundreds of different sencha, all with their own unique tastes.
We’ve ultimately decided on a handful of our favorites, and we’re so happy to share them all with you! These teas are all coming from different regions, tea farms, cultivars and production styles!
If you’re looking for a good place to start, we recommend the Fukamushi Yamaga, a delicious deep steamed sencha from Shizuoka with a powerful fruity and steamed vegetable flavor. It also works great as a cold brew!