Matcha vs Sencha
While the two most popular types of green tea, Sencha and Matcha, come from the same plant known as Camellia Sinensis, they have different growing conditions and processing methods, which makes them stand apart.
Green tea has been in Japan for centuries and was brought by Eisai in 1191. He brought the tea seeds along with the Zen Buddhists’ method of preparing green tea. He planted these seeds in the Kyoto temple and produced the highest quality green tea at that time. It was regarded as a luxury symbol in his time. These green tea leaves are grown in shades to avoid frosting, and shading gives them a unique dark color. It is later ground into a fine powder.
Matcha was the favorite before Sencha came in the 18th century. Sencha means roasting/simmering tea, and it was named after the processing method used by Baisao, who used to sell tea around Kyoto. Many tea sellers pan-fried their tea, but Baisao used to place whole tea in boiling water and let it simmer. Also, unlike Matcha, Sencha leaves are used as whole loose leaves and do not ground into a fine powder.
Green tea appears to be the same for many people, but it has many varieties, and it depends on harvesting and processing methods. Sencha and Matcha are also different from each other in many ways, such as from growing to preparing.
The main difference you see between Matcha and Sencha is the color. It is due to the different growing methods the farmers adopt to achieve a certain color. Sencha is grown in full sunlight, which reduces the green color pigment in the leaves and makes the leaves a dark greenish color. As for the Matcha, tea plants are kept in the shade for many days and only given limited sunlight. Lack of sunlight stimulates excess chlorophyll production in leaves, and leaves appear greener. When Match leaves are ground, it looks bright green as compared to Sencha leaves.
The processing also makes both green teas different from each other. After picking the matcha tea plant, only the youngest part of the plants, which are the leaves from the tip of the shoot are being used and these leaves are separated from stems. After the steaming, cooling, and drying process, leaves are ground into a fine powder, which is the final form and full of nutrients. Due to extra labor in processing, as well as other tools and materials used to cover the green tea leaves and the skills needed for its procedure, Matcha is highly-priced as compared to Sencha.
In the case of Sencha green tea, all the whole leaves, stems, and veins are picked and being processed. These are then boiled and simmered in water, which reduces the oxidation level. It is later dried and kneaded into small pieces. The final product you see is the loose leaves, which are wholly used when brewing tea.
Flavour and color
There is a visible difference in leaves color between the two teas. Due to the lack of sunlight in the Matcha case, it gets a bright green color. Whereas, Sencha gets the dark green color light due to exposure to sunlight.
In the final brewed tea, Sencha has a light yellowish color, grassy aroma, and a strong taste, which leaves a pungent after-taste. It is refreshing and beneficial to health, just like Matcha. Matcha tea has a bright green color and creamy texture with no bitter after-taste.
Even the appearance would differ from the other. This is evident since Matcha is processed to be fine as powder, while Sencha would appear as a loose leaf broken into pieces after being steamed and rolled.
Green tea is a widely studied tea that has high concentrations of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Considering that green tea is mostly unprocessed from unoxidized leaves, the higher amount of antioxidants in green tea compared to other tea leaves helps combat cancer growth in the stomach, lungs, pancreas, breast, and bladder. As well, the high antioxidant contents found in green tea may prevent the arteries from clogging. What is more, many studies find that this amazing tea may be able to burn fat, lower the risk of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, offset oxidative stress on the brain, improve cholesterol levels and lower the risk of stroke.
Due to the difference in many stages of tea in both Sencha and Matcha, the nutrients in both teas are present in different varieties. Matcha is grown in the shade and therefore retains more caffeine and L-Theanine content. Both of these have relaxing and refreshing effects on your mood with health benefits. It has superiority over Sencha due to excess of these contents, which also gives you energy. With theanine combined with caffeine, both nutrients show promise as an aide for weight loss.
Sencha is beneficial because of the high number of antioxidants in its leaves. Leaves are not kept under the shade and are exposed to direct sunlight, which increases the production of antioxidants. These antioxidants are crucial and beneficial to your health. Sencha is rich in antioxidants, particularly EGCG. In fact, many claims that this special antioxidant is what makes green tea have such powerful medicinal properties. Therefore, Sencha is healthier compared to Matcha in its way. Moreover, a recent post from Livestrong states that the EGCG in Sencha may help lower total body weight and body fat levels. In fact, the fat-burning antioxidant helps increase your body’s metabolism, especially visceral fat or fat that is in the abdomen. ECGG also, being an antioxidant ingredient, prevents and fights hair loss. Due to green tea’s anti-inflammatory nature, it also helps to reduce dandruff by simply putting green tea leaves or extracts on the scalp and massaging it.
Both teas have their own brewing rituals and tea sets. In the case of Sencha, you have to get the specially made tea set, which keeps the water at a set temperature when brewing the tea. When brewing Sencha, you have to keep the water at 70 degrees and let the tea leaves steep for a few minutes, and then pour them into tiny cups.
To make Matcha tea, you need a bamboo whisk and a bowl. Add tea powder and boiling water to the bowl. Whisk the mixture until foamy and creamy. You can enjoy Matcha straight from the bowl or add variations according to taste. Matcha is widely used in foods as a taste and due to health benefits.
With these differences, it is believed that Matcha, being consumed as ground, powdered leaves, is healthier than sencha, wherein the leaves are only steeped in water.
Here are examples of tea we carried mentioned in this blog post:
- ShizoukaTea – Sencha – Green Tea Leaves
- KagoshimaTea – Matcha Karigane Sencha
- ShizoukaTea – Organic Genmai Matcha – Green Tea Leaves Plus Toasted Brown Rice & Matcha Powder
- KagoshimaTea – Organic Premium Sencha
This post about Matcha vs Sencha was first published in 2020. We updated this blog in 2022 just for you.
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