Tea (rec.drink.tea) Discussion relating to tea, the world's second most consumed beverage (after water), made by infusing or boiling the leaves of the tea plant (C. sinensis or close relatives) in water.

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Default Need sencha edumacation

Hi all,

I am not a knowledgeable sencha person and I know others on here are so
I will ask you. I recently went to a local better-quality Asian store
and bought a paper packet of sencha. The English on the stick-on label
reads "Japanese green tea (Minamien sencha kanbai" Exported by Central
Trading Co Ltd. and the URL on the front of the package which is the
only English on the front says "http://www.minamien.jp". There's also a
phone number but that's not important. This sencha is the first more
expensive sencha I have bought, I think it was around $18 or something
for 100 gms. It's much more finely shredded than any sencha I've had
before, when I steep it it's not a powder but does make a rather thick
soup before I strain it, and the liquor is a really intense almost neon
green. I'm used to the regular sencha in the stores that is more dry,
more large pieces, more like the Upton's basic sencha. More like what
they mix in genmaicha. My basic question is: Is this more like what
sencha "should" be like in terms of higher quality? Does anyone have any
comments as to the character of a finer-textured sencha like this? The
first thing that really struck me about this was the finer texture of
the dry leaves. It's not a powder by any means but it does leave a lot
of residue in the bottom of the glass after straining. The flavor is
certainly stronger and richer (more brothy in texture, not sweet in
taste but not too much seaweed either, it's vegetal but not in the same
way as a Chinese green might be..it's more mossy or something).

Anyhow. Is this an example of what I should look for in a higher quality
sencha? Thanks in advance.

Melinda
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My experiences parallel yours from what I find on the shelf. I keep a
lookout for those rare export 100g tins by a Japanese company in the
now $10-$20 range. I have one ten year old tin that cost $7. In the
past I've described the spent leaf as fluorescence almost glow in the
dark color. Sencha is the only tea I've seen where you get more
quality if you pay more. I dont see powder in my few higher priced
examples in the sense you noticed it stuck to the dry leaf. However
on the second infusion you will notice an explosive bright green cloud
before the particulate settles. I think a good sencha should match a
good matcha in color when dry. Commercially I think we still are
getting the leftovers. My local tea shoppe carries an Emperor Gyokuro
sencha 2oz/$10 which is pretty much what I find in the expensive
tins. I will say one thing about sencha based on my limited
experience. You've had one good sencha you've had them all based on
the singularity of taste.

Jim

Melinda wrote:
> Hi all,
>
> I am not a knowledgeable sencha person and I know others on here are so
> I will ask you. I recently went to a local better-quality Asian store
> and bought a paper packet of sencha. The English on the stick-on label
> reads "Japanese green tea (Minamien sencha kanbai" Exported by Central
> Trading Co Ltd. and the URL on the front of the package which is the
> only English on the front says "http://www.minamien.jp". There's also a
> phone number but that's not important. This sencha is the first more
> expensive sencha I have bought, I think it was around $18 or something
> for 100 gms. It's much more finely shredded than any sencha I've had
> before, when I steep it it's not a powder but does make a rather thick
> soup before I strain it, and the liquor is a really intense almost neon
> green. I'm used to the regular sencha in the stores that is more dry,
> more large pieces, more like the Upton's basic sencha. More like what
> they mix in genmaicha. My basic question is: Is this more like what
> sencha "should" be like in terms of higher quality? Does anyone have any
> comments as to the character of a finer-textured sencha like this? The
> first thing that really struck me about this was the finer texture of
> the dry leaves. It's not a powder by any means but it does leave a lot
> of residue in the bottom of the glass after straining. The flavor is
> certainly stronger and richer (more brothy in texture, not sweet in
> taste but not too much seaweed either, it's vegetal but not in the same
> way as a Chinese green might be..it's more mossy or something).
>
> Anyhow. Is this an example of what I should look for in a higher quality
> sencha? Thanks in advance.
>
> Melinda

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On Jul 2, 7:25*am, Melinda > wrote:
> Hi all,
>
> I am not a knowledgeable sencha person and I know others on here are so
> I will ask you. I recently went to a local better-quality Asian store
> and bought a paper packet of sencha. The English on the stick-on label
> reads "Japanese green tea (Minamien sencha kanbai" Exported by Central
> Trading Co Ltd. and the URL on the front of the package which is the
> only English on the front says "http://www.minamien.jp". There's also a
> phone number but that's not important. This sencha is the first more
> expensive sencha I have bought, I think it was around $18 or something
> for 100 gms. It's much more finely shredded than any sencha I've had
> before, when I steep it it's not a powder but does make a rather thick
> soup before I strain it, and the liquor is a really intense almost neon
> green. I'm used to the regular sencha in the stores that is more dry,
> more large pieces, more like the Upton's basic sencha. More like what
> they mix in genmaicha. My basic question is: Is this more like what
> sencha "should" be like in terms of higher quality? Does anyone have any
> comments as to the character of a finer-textured sencha like this? The
> first thing that really struck me about this was the finer texture of
> the dry leaves. It's not a powder by any means but it does leave a lot
> of residue in the bottom of the glass after straining. The flavor is
> certainly stronger and richer (more brothy in texture, not sweet in
> taste but not too much seaweed either, it's vegetal but not in the same
> way as a Chinese green might be..it's more mossy or something).
>
> Anyhow. Is this an example of what I should look for in a higher quality
> sencha? Thanks in advance.
>
> Melinda


Hey Melinda,

Well by no means can I offer you a proper edumecation on Sencha but I
can try to offer some info. Sencha is a class of its own and within it
there is a ton of variation and differences, it would be analogous to
me trying to sum up "oolong" or "darjeeling." There are different
regions and kinds of senchas, "spider leg" is more wiry and thin,
while many senchas can be fairly broad and flat and long. I,
personally, like my sencha to not be overly brothy or thick but there
are high quality senchas that produce thin and thick tea. I like fishy/
kelpy and I also like the very light and sweet vegetal ones. I have
become in love with Chinese Huo Shan Huang Ya which is a yellow tea
but encompasses all of what I love in sencha, but I still go back to
the real deal when I get a craving.

It sounds to me like you have a fairly basic grade of sencha there,
but a bit better than standard grocery store fare. For cheap sencha I
tend to drink what is actually Bancha from the Hime brand, it is like
$4 for a pound of it and it is actually decent. It probably would
stand up well to the $18 tea you bought. I have seen packets like you
mention being sold for similar prices and even higher ~$24 which have
only contained mid-grade sencha. I have also seen some of these
packets that were a mix of sencha and matcha powder which may produce
something similar to what you described.

As for good sencha: o-cha.com is very good and one of my top choices,
Itoen is OK but I'm never fully satisfied with their combination of
prices/quality (more price than quality as they are generally very
high quality)... however I have had some great tea from them at times,
sometimes Silk Road Teas will have a decent one.

Quite some years back I was much more into sencha, but anymore I have
begun exploring and really enjoying the differences and flavors of
Chinese greens and yellows as sencha can become a bit one-dimensional
and even though I hate to say it, boring. I still enjoy it at times
throughout the year, but to specialize in just sencha would be a bit
disappointing for me knowing what else is out there.

Gyokuro, however, is a great time and while expensive it is still a
guilty pleasure of mine. Matcha can be a nice change too and also has
a world of its own to explore. Sencha or "Shincha" such as at o-
cha.com is another great treat which is like a "first flush" in
Darjeeling land. Kukicha (green or roasted) is also a neat side path
to wander down. Genmaicha is totally out for me as I don't like it so
I couldn't speak to it at all. For a great start: http://www.o-cha.com/green-teas/sencha/
and if you have some money to throw at it: http://www.itoen.com/leaf/index.cfm
(just pick "green" for the first field and hit search)

- Dominic
http://teasphere.wordpress.com
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On Jul 2, 7:25*am, Melinda > wrote:
> Hi all,
>
> I am not a knowledgeable sencha person and I know others on here are so
> I will ask you. I recently went to a local better-quality Asian store
> and bought a paper packet of sencha. The English on the stick-on label
> reads "Japanese green tea (Minamien sencha kanbai" Exported by Central
> Trading Co Ltd. and the URL on the front of the package which is the
> only English on the front says "http://www.minamien.jp". There's also a
> phone number but that's not important. This sencha is the first more
> expensive sencha I have bought, I think it was around $18 or something
> for 100 gms. It's much more finely shredded than any sencha I've had
> before, when I steep it it's not a powder but does make a rather thick
> soup before I strain it, and the liquor is a really intense almost neon
> green. I'm used to the regular sencha in the stores that is more dry,
> more large pieces, more like the Upton's basic sencha. More like what
> they mix in genmaicha. My basic question is: Is this more like what
> sencha "should" be like in terms of higher quality? Does anyone have any
> comments as to the character of a finer-textured sencha like this? The
> first thing that really struck me about this was the finer texture of
> the dry leaves. It's not a powder by any means but it does leave a lot
> of residue in the bottom of the glass after straining. The flavor is
> certainly stronger and richer (more brothy in texture, not sweet in
> taste but not too much seaweed either, it's vegetal but not in the same
> way as a Chinese green might be..it's more mossy or something).
>
> Anyhow. Is this an example of what I should look for in a higher quality
> sencha? Thanks in advance.
>
> Melinda


I think Ito-En has the some of the best, although not cheap, sencha.
The Megami sencha is a pretty good everyday sencha - 3 oz for $16.50.
Ito-en stores their tea in coolers so it is always very fresh. You can
find it he http://www.itoen.com/leaf/index.cfm?sp=product&ID=7

Also, I've learned that most sencha is a blend which probably accounts
for the similarity in taste.
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Hi--

SpaceCowboy is right that we get the lower-quality teas in the Asian
food stores in the US.

I ordered "shincha" from several dealers in Japan recently, and I have
to say that o-cha.com is the one that impressed me with their high-
quality offerings for quite reasonable prices. I also order from
Itoen, but it's always matcha I get from them, and I order from them
'cuz I can get it fast (from New York City), and they have a grade
that I like (koi-cha-yoo; for "thick tea"). Hibiki-an.com was another
place I ordered shincha from... I ordered their top of the line
shincha from the Uji district. The leaves were beautiful, shiny, dark
dark green needles with no powder, no dust-- but flavorwise, it was
probably no better than stuff $10 cheaper.

Derek mentioned "sencha," then followed that with "shincha," then
compared them with first-flust teas? Shincha is a subcategory of
sencha, and *is* first-flush. Some districts call this "hachiju-hachi-
ya," meaning "88 nights" (meaning it was picked 89 days after some
particular season-marking day. Shincha has a distinctive flavor. It
becomes available in May, and many places sell out of it rather
quickly. It blends well-- I mix it with other sencha, but the
distinctive shincha taste is still obvious.

There are high-grade Japanese teas made with a special process and
called "Fuka-mushi-cha" (deep steamed tea). Shizuoka is the district
that developed this process, but a lot of other districts use it now
as well. It produces a leaf that is broken and powdery. The leaves
infuse very quickly, and produce a cup that is approaching opaque...
the drink's texture is distinct. I drink this a lot, though I highten
the amazing opaque color by adding a scoop of matcha to the leaf (a
trick often used when serving cheaper tea, but does nice things to
rather good tea as well )

The web-site Melinda gave us lists lots of teas, and the *name* of the
particular grade of tea she got was probably written only in Japanese
on the package-- I wonder if what she has described might have been
Fuka-mushi-cha.

james-henry holland
hobart and william smith colleges
geneva, new york


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On Jul 3, 9:57*am, Thitherflit > wrote:
> Derek mentioned "sencha," then followed that with "shincha," then
> compared them with first-flust teas? *Shincha is a subcategory of
> sencha, and *is* first-flush. *Some districts call this "hachiju-hachi-
> ya," meaning "88 nights" (meaning it was picked 89 days after some
> particular season-marking day. * Shincha has a distinctive flavor. *It
> becomes available in May, and many places sell out of it rather
> quickly. *It blends well-- I mix it with other sencha, but the
> distinctive shincha taste is still obvious.


"Dominic" not Derek. Yes, I simplified it and was just trying to offer
some jumping-off points for more investigation for Melinda. It's hard
to learn when you don't know what you don't know, that's why I threw
out the names Gyokuro, Shincha, and Kukicha, but it is hard to write
much more than I did for just one post/reply to really dig into all
the specifics. And yes, Hibiki-an is a good source too and one I
forgot to mention. I tend to go more for o-cha out of habit but Hibiki
is just as good in my book and in some cases better.

- Dominic (not Derek
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On Jul 3, 10:30*am, "Dominic T." > wrote:

> "Dominic" not Derek.


Dominic: Sorry for that weirdness. I had just written a letter to a
friend named Derek, and obviously hadn't completely shifted gears.

Backing out of the room with bows and smiles,

james-henry
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On Jul 4, 10:14 am, Thitherflit > wrote:
> On Jul 3, 10:30 am, "Dominic T." > wrote:
>
> > "Dominic" not Derek.

>
> Dominic: Sorry for that weirdness. I had just written a letter to a
> friend named Derek, and obviously hadn't completely shifted gears.
>
> Backing out of the room with bows and smiles,
>
> james-henry


hehe, no worries.
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