Comparing Fukamushi Sencha with other Sencha
Sencha is widely grown, steam processed, and sold in Japan. It comes from the same plant as other green tea types, Camellia Sinensis. However, based on the growing method and later processing, it stands out with its astringent taste and dark color. Sencha is further divided into different kinds, mainly on the basis of steamed time during processing. There are three main kinds, Fukamushi-cha 深蒸し (deep steamed) and Asamushi 浅蒸し (lightly steamed), Chumushi 中蒸し or Futsumushi-cha (medium steamed). The steaming process is used for tea grown in Japan. It involves passing the fresh tea leaves through hot air to stop the oxidation process. The time duration in which they stay steaming is crucial as it determines their tastiest, color, and aroma.
Here we are focusing on Fukamushi and its differences from other types of Sencha. Fukamushi Sencha was first made in Japan in the mid 20th century. Fukamushi means “steamed for a longer time or deep steaming”. As the amount of time tea leaves streamed determines its taste and characteristics, Fukamushi stands apart from other Sencha teas. Fukamushi is immensely popular and processed in Shizuoka province. It is steamed for approximately 100 seconds or 60 seconds twice, which results in the breaking of tea leaves and losing their shape. It then in later processing helps to break down tea leaves and release more flavor. Therefore, it appears broken compared to other Sencha tea types.
If you compare it to the other two, Asamushi is steamed for about 20-30 seconds and Chumushi or Futsumushi for about 30-60 seconds. It is said to be a general rule, deeper the steaming, thicker the brewed tea with deep taste, and you will experience such a difference in Sencha tea. Fukamushi ends up with a deeply rich and smooth taste with mild asparagus, egg yolk, and umami notes and light to none astringency. Whereas asamushi has a light flavor with high astringency, and Chumushi or Futsumushi get a bit richer flavor and less astringency compared to the former. As for the color of tea, as the steaming time increases, the color starts developing into a darker side, and quick or light steamed tea has a much lighter color. Light steamed Sencha has light green, and in deep steamed Sencha you get darkish green.
Due to being in the steamer for a longer time, tea leaves and stems start breaking down, and in the final product, you see broken and powdery looking leaves. When you drink Fukamushi, you will notice some pieces at the bottom of the tea. These are particles that fell from the leaves when it broke down under deep steaming. They are not water-soluble therefore sit at the bottom, and consuming this powdery form of Fukamushi is actually beneficial for your health. While in light or regular steaming, tea leaves stay long, narrow and uniform in shape. The aroma of tea leaves starts getting lighter as the steaming time increases. Therefore you will see a visible difference in the fragrance of Asamushi and Fukamushi tea leaves. Fukamushi has quite a weak aroma, almost too bland, whereas Asamushi has a strong smell and Futsumushi has a fresh grassy aroma.
For more ease in understanding the fundamental difference between characteristics of Fukamushi and other Sencha types, I have made the following table in the simplest terms with full information.
|Steaming Time||90-120 sec||40-60 sec||20-30 sec|
|Leaf Shape||Broken, fine powdery||Long, narrow and uniform||Long, narrow and uniform|
|Tea Color||Darkish green||Clear light-green||Clear light-green|
|Taste||Deep rich (smoothness)||Rich (astringency)||Light grassy (astringency)|
Here are examples of fukamushi deep steam tea we carry:
- Shizuoka – European Sencha Deep Steamed
- Kagoshima – Excellent Deep Steam Sencha
- Kagoshima – Deep Steamed Shincha Yabukita
- Premium – Deep Steamed Shincha Yutaka Midori