Translated, the Japanese word ‘Sencha’ simply means ‘steamed tea’. The term originally marked the delimitation of the Japanese traditional method of stopping the oxidation processes in tea leaves when processing green tea against the Chinese roasting process that is typical. According to that traditional meaning, more than 80% of all tea produced in Japan today, including the specific Japanese shaded green teas, would be considered Sencha. However, if today you find a Japanese green tea labeled as Sencha, this generally points to an unshaded tea, as shaded teas instead will be refered to either Kabuse-Cha (half-shaded tea) or Gyokuro (fully shaded tea), depending on their respective degree of shading.
As the best leaf grades of the spring harvest are often reserved for shading and/or the domestic market, we might easily be able to find good quality Kabusecha or Gyokuro teas, while an unshaded Sencha picked at the best picking time (first spring picking) with high picking standard appears to be almost a rarity on the western tea market. In fact, most of the unshaded Sencha teas available here come from later, i. e. summer pickings or are of inferior picking standard and/or leaf grade. Even the prouder we are to offer an unshaded Sencha tea from the April picking – so, actually a Shincha – for which only spring’s new buds and youngest leaves are picked. While the first annual picking feature might initially qualify this Sencha as a Shincha, the tea is brought to us via sea freight and made available throughout the year, thus ultimtely making it fall under the term ‘Ichibancha’, which is reserved for Shincha teas after the elapse of a relatively short period.
Sencha Gokujo comes from the pastoral mountains of Kirishima, a cultivation region in the north of Kagoshima prefecture with widely untouched natural wealth. The undulating landscape of volcanic heritage, characterized by an abundance of lakes and hot springs among other natural blessings, offers the tea plant soils that are rich in minerals and nutrients, along with supreme climate conditions. Regenreiche summers and the regular drowning of the tea plantations in mist further contribute to a single variety, single origin and single picking Japanese Sencha tea of particularly intensive taste and individual character: floral, sweet, soft as silk and of tantalizing fruitiness.
‘Gokujo’ (極上) means ‘first class quality’ in Japanese, and our Sencha Gokujo lives up to its name indeed. In order to optimally exploit their active ingredients, the freshly picked, deep green leaves of the ‘Sae Midori’ tea variety are steamed, cooled, rolled and dried according to the characteristic procedure of Japanese green tea processing. The producer of this Sencha green tea, who is health and environment-friendly-certified to both Japanese and EU standards, packages the tea immediately upon completion of the processing cycle, so that the active substances, the aromatic fragrance and the intensive taste remain preserved throughout the tea’s journey to distant shores and right up to your tea cup. We receive this green tea in decorative 100g packages, a choice that in turn we also offer to our customers. Selecting the non-repackaged decorative 100g bag, you’ll make sure to get our Sencha Gokujo into your cup in its freshest possible manifestation.
Preparation: Dose tea leaves into the teapot, pour over with water tempered according to below recommendation, let infuse (see below for details) and pour out into previously prepared drinking or tea cups.
Water: For the preparation of our Sencha Natsu Green Tea , we recommend using as soft as possible (low lime) water of a temperature of 70°C.
Teapot: Best suitable for the preparation of Japanese green teas are clay teapots (alternatively Japanese Kyusu or Chinese style teapot), but you will achieve comparably desirable results using a China bone or a glass teapot.
Dosage: While in Japan there’s a tendency to much higher dosages prevailing, a dosage of 4-5g tea leaves on 200-250ml water in our experience appears to be entirely adequate as an initial approach. Starting from this basis, the tea is open to possible experimenting and individual adjustments to the dosage. The higher the dosage, the more intensive both color and taste of the resulting green tea will be.
Infusion period: With an infusion period of 1 minute for a first infusion, 20 seconds for a second infusion and a longer period (above 1 minute) for a third steep, Sencha Natsu green tea will produce 2-3 delicious infusions with varying aroma and taste patterns.
Tea cups: In Japan, Sencha tea is enjoyed in smaller to medium-sized teacups (“Chawan” or “Yunomi”), whose style and prefered size can be adapted to actual requirements, i.e. situation and mood.
For more information and backgrounds on Japanese green teas as well as other types of tea that are characteristic for Japan, please also read our pertinent article in Siam Tea Blog, providing an overview of Japan’s tea world, culture and history in a comprehensive yet understandable manner: