Genmaicha vs. Sencha
Genmaicha and Sencha are the common Japanese green tea in Japanese households. These teas are both popular and tastes good, but which is a better tea? Let’s talk and find out.
Introduction to Sencha
Sencha is the most popular and commonly found green tea variety in Japan. It is made from leaves of Camellia Sinensis plant. Unlike high-grade shade-grown teas, it is grown under direct sunlight. However, some farmers give Sencha plant shade for a specific day to get the desired taste and this variety of Sencha is known as Gyokuro and Kabusecha.
Sencha means simmering tea, and it was introduced to the Japanese in the 18h century. Baisao was a tea seller in Kyoto who first used the simmering process. Instead of using a pan-fried method, which is common, he used to simmer tea leaves in boiling water to enhance their flavor.
Sencha and Bancha are different as Sencha comes from young leaves while Bancha is considered a lower grade sencha and comes from mature leaves and stems that were harvested during autumn, and these leaves are roasted instead of steamed. Despite being a lower-grade Sencha, Bancha is often partnered with meals because of its strong taste.
How Sencha is Made
The steaming process is now widely used to stop oxidation in tea leaves and make green tea different from other tea. The process involves high heat for 2 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the tea variety. In later processing, Sencha leaves are dried and rolled to be cut into long pieces but some varieties of Sencha leaves are cut into small pieces.
The most common Sencha has a more astringent taste and darker leaves. But the taste and color variations in different kinds of Sencha tea.
Kinds of Sencha
Now we know that sencha is steamed leaves from Camellia Sinensis, which are not pan-fried. Moreover, Sencha tea is categorized according to the harvesting time or length of the steaming process.
Futsu Mushi Sencha – this is the standard or regular Sencha. The sweet and bitter flavors are balanced.
Fukamushi-cha – this the sencha that is deep-steamed. It is that way to reduce the astringency or grassy taste, resulting in a powdery and richer cup of sencha.
Kabuse-cha – since the leaves are shaded longer, this Sencha tea has deeper flavor and aroma. Why? It is because the longer the plants are under the shade, the higher the L-theanine content. This amino acid reduces stress and maintains the tea’s umami taste.
Kuradashi Sencha – this type of Sencha tea leaves is stored in an airtight container for aging for at least one year. It results in a solid astringent flavor. Opening its jar is a formal process and is seasonally available during the winter months. This tea is perfect for tea lovers who love strong-tasting teas.
Gyokuro – The most expensive and premium Sencha tea. It is expensive due to its meticulous harvesting, steaming process, and labor to produce softer leaves. In addition, its tea leaves are shaded to make only the tips grow, resulting in a harvest once a year.
Brewing Sencha at home
When brewing Japanese green tea, it is best to have a Japanese cast iron teapot (kyusu) that is usually smaller than a regular teapot, food thermometer, and tea cups (yunomi).
Put one gram of sencha tea leaves per every 50ml of water.
Boil the water in the kettle until it reaches 162 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a food thermometer or kettle with a thermometer, pour the water from the teapot onto one teacup and then transfer the water back and forth between two teacups to achieve the desired water temperature.
Add that water to the teapot and steep the tea for 45 seconds for a deep-steamed type of Sencha tea leaves. Otherwise, steep for around 90 seconds or less, depending on desired taste.
Slowly pour the tea into the teacups. After pouring, shake a bit or par the back of the teapot to clear the steeped leaves from the teapot filter or strainer. Then, take the lid off so the steam will come off and the leaves will stop from continued brewing.
When re-brewing tea leaves, try to steep double the previous steeping time and add the temperature by five degrees Fahrenheit.
What is Genmaicha
Genmaicha is actually Sencha with roasted brown rice added. It was named after the Japanese word for brown rice or grain, which has a brown coating. Brown rice is first soaked and steamed. Next, steamed rice is roasted and popped, which enhances their taste and gives a nutty aroma. It is then mixed with sencha leaves in different ratios which vary from vendor to vendor, to balance the two different kinds of taste.
The new form of tea has the savouriness of roasted brown rice and the grassy astringent flavor of tea leaves. A cup of Genmaicha has plenty of health benefits as it combines two beneficial ingredients. Sencha has a bit high caffeine level, and by mixing brown rice, tones down to a healthier level.
It is a waste not to get the most umami out of a high-grade Genmaicha. Brewing it is easy. Add around 2 grams of Genmaicha leaves into the teapot. Boil the water in the kettle until it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit or boils it and let it cool down. Then pour around 60ml of that boiled water into the teapot. Steep for one minute and steep it more if a more pungent tea taste is desired. After that, pour the tea into the teacups.
Having a cup of Sencha or Genmaicha will make tea drinkers more healthy. In addition, these tea drinks can make mealtime pleasant and refreshing.
Some tea that mentioned in this blog that we carry:
- KagoshimaTea.com – Premium Sencha Green Tea Bags
- ShizuokaTea.com – Genmaicha
- KagoshimaTea.com – Kabusecha
- ShizuokaTea.com – Premium Sencha
Related Article You May Be Interested