Sencha is a type of green tea traditionally from Japan. The decaf variety from Harney & Sons is from China (go figure). I know, you’re thinking, “She got decaf…again.” Perpetually trying to cut back (you try having a tea blog and consuming large amounts of caffeine…for the sake of the public). For those of you who are still on a first name basis with your daily dose of caffeine, Harney & Sons does offer the caffeinated version, which is the most common. (You may want to note that the caffeinated Japanese Sencha is more expensive than the decaf, even for the 1 oz more in package size. You may want to check out their Sencha varieties; however prices do increase further: Organic, Matsuda’s, Ichiban, Sent of Mountain.) They do have a bagged Sencha, but you sacrifice that loose-leaf effect. You can also try a sample for $2, which isn’t bad at all.
OK, enough money talk.
Decaf Sencha, like most green teas, has a light, relaxing, grassy flavor. Green tea undergoes minimal oxidation (when the tea leaves are allowed to darken after they are picked), so it’s a lighter taste than black tea (maximum oxidation time; oolong is in between). Sencha is made from more whole leaves. It’s not ground or heavily chopped. You can see in the photo below that the loose leaves consist of rolled leaf pieces. It makes for a nice, whole, round flavor.
For Sencha, the tea plants are allowed direct sunlight exposure. It is also steamed longer in processing, giving it a bright green color and full green flavor.
When boiling water for green tea, it’s important to stop the heat just before it boils completely. This is really for loose-leaf green tea, in particular. Green tea is more delicate than black, so you don’t want to scorch the leaves. Instead, allow them to gently unfurl and the heat from the water can coax the flavor out of each leaf. You want some right now, don’t you?
I’m glad I decided to go with the decaf too. Not just because I’m cutting back. It’s such a relaxing drink, I can have it before bed and still get enough sleep. It’s also nice for the afternoon, if you just need a break from a busy day.