Green Tea: Matcha or Sencha – What’s the Difference?
29. March 2021
Most already know the beneficial properties of green tea . Either as a dietary supplement or as a classic hot or cold drink with a history spanning thousands of years across multiple cultures. But what do you really know about the rest of the green tea family? Especially about its famous relatives Matcha and Sencha?
To see the difference, we must first examine what they have in common.
Matcha and Sencha both come from the same plant called “Camellia Sinensis” and are both green teas. And they have something else in common, because both are non-fermented teas. As we already know, green tea was “born” in China, but its varieties – Matcha and Sencha – originated in Japan and evolved into traditional beverages.
The use of ceremonial tea has been a large part of Japanese culture since ancient times, and both types of tea play a large role in Japanese tradition. Since fermentation often lowers the nutritional value of the tea, unfermented teas like sencha and matcha have very high nutritional value.
What is Sencha?
The name Sencha comes from the Japanese word “Senta”, which means “roasted tea”.
Sencha tea is grown in the sun, which adds to many of its nutritional properties. It’s high in polyphenols , including catechins , which may help prevent heart disease and act as antioxidants . Sencha not only has a special nutritional content that Matcha does not have, but it is also prepared differently.
Sencha is made by soaking whole tea leaves in water and then removing them before drinking. It’s also known to have a refreshing, slightly pungent aftertaste.
Sencha tea is the most commonly consumed green tea in Japan. It’s so popular that you’ll find it in most restaurants around the country. This tea is only made from the youngest leaves of the tea plant.
The leaves of Sencha tea are picked and then steamed to prevent oxidation. After the leaves are steamed, they are rolled into various shapes by hand.
Sencha tea is praised for its taste balance of acidity and sweetness and is characterized by a slightly spicy taste with a mild note. It has a sweet, grassy aroma and nuances of pine or melon. The highest quality teas offer a more complex flavor profile that has a contrasting yet balanced taste.
There are two main types of Sencha green teas, which are classified based on the steaming methods: Asamushi and Fukamushi .
- Asamushi tea is considered the traditional variety and is made by steaming for 30 to 60 seconds. When prepared, it has a light yellow color and a strong, sweet taste.
- Fukmushi tea is a relatively new variety and its leaves take longer to steam. This creates a Sencha tea that is darker and more cloudy compared to traditional Asamushis. Fukamushi sencha is also presented in a stronger flavor that tends to be more earthy.
Some varieties of Sencha tea that are important to mention:
Shincha – also known as Ichiban-cha or New Tea, is a Sencha tea that is harvested in spring. It tends to have a sweeter, milder, and sometimes richer flavor filled with umami (pleasant taste) than other types of sencha. It has a light, golden-green color, which means that this type of tea has a delicate taste and aroma.
The winter in the tea regions of Japan is mild, but the tea plants stop growing during the winter. In April, when the first pale green leaves begin to bloom, they are harvested to produce a more “synthetic” variety.
Sencha powder tea – you shouldn’t confuse it with matcha tea.
Although the powdered varieties of matcha and sencha may appear similar, the main difference is in their color and taste. Matcha powder retains its bright green color and is a sweeter tea than Sencha, which has a more bitter taste and a dark green or brown color. Like loose sencha, the powder has an astringent and somewhat grassy taste. It’s perfect for cooking and baking: cakes, cookies, ice cream, lattes and more!
Conclusions about Sencha tea:
- is easy to prepare.
- has both a refreshingly mild taste (Shincha) and a rather bitter one (Sencha powder).
- has a high nutritional value.
- it has antioxidant properties (but less so than matcha).
What is matcha?
The word matcha means “powdered tea”.
Matcha tea has enjoyed increasing popularity around the world in recent years and is often referred to as a mood-enhancing food. Previous research has shown that three ingredients found in matcha tea, L-theanine, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and caffeine, can affect mood and cognitive performance.
In contrast to Sencha tea, Matcha is grown in the shade and is therefore nutritionally different from Sencha. He is known for his ability to energize and soothe at the same time. This is due to the caffeine and L-theanine.
Obviously, the caffeine gives a lot of energy, while L-theanine is an amino acid that has a calming effect without causing drowsiness. The end result: Matcha wakes you up without making you nervous – a perfect combination.
How is matcha prepared?
With Matcha, the tea leaves are ground and mixed with water. In this way, you are actually consuming the entire tea leaf.
Japanese tea ceremony for the home
Green tea, in any of its forms, is one of the best (if not the best) teas we can make for ourselves. Matcha green tea also offers numerous advantages. As some studies show, it has an effect on free radicals in the body, which means that it can improve our general well-being.
He could increase psychophysical energy. They also help you to maintain a stable body weight and pH balance and detoxify the organism. And best of all – it is an alternative to coffee without the uncomfortable feeling of nervousness.
What is the difference between “normal” green tea and matcha tea?
Matcha is a type of green tea that originally came from Japan and is available from us in the form of a ground powder made from green tea leaves. Matcha powder is considered to be one of the healthiest green teas on the market. It provides vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids. Our body absorbs this when the whole tea leaf is consumed instead of simply pouring the leaves on and removing them for drinking.
There are two basic types of matcha tea:
- Usucha – made from the leaves of a plant that is younger than 30 years.
- Koicha – made from the leaves of a plant that is more than 30 years old. Koicha is made with less water in the tea ceremony and has a sweeter taste. Koicha is more valuable and expensive than Usuche.
There is only one rule when it comes to preparation and that is not to use boiling water. Usually two items are required for preparation: a matcha bowl and a bamboo whisk.
- Boil the water to 60 ° C – 80 ° C (it is important that the water is hot but not boiling).
- Put 1 – 2 grams of powder in a matcha bowl.
- Stir the tea until a firm foam forms. Keep in mind that a firmer foam will enhance the end result and enhance the overall flavor. If you don’t have a bamboo whisk, you can always use a classic whisk.
Conclusions about matcha tea:
- It has a sweeter taste (koicha).
- It has antioxidant properties.
- Matcha helps us stay focused and energetic without feeling nervous.
- It has a calming effect without causing drowsiness.
- It can act as an immunity booster.
Sencha or Matcha – who wins?
If you didn’t know the difference between Sencha and Matcha, or didn’t even know that there were both, now is a good time to try both! But before you are spoiled for choice which one to try first, here are a few facts to compare these two wonderful drinks.
- Antioxidant Properties: Matcha tea contains more antioxidants than sencha.
- Caffeine content: Matcha is the winner here. Due to its growing methods, matcha retains more of its caffeine content as it grows in shady conditions. So if you want to reduce your caffeine consumption, Sencha would be a better choice.
- Weight Loss: Since studies on the weight loss properties of green tea have produced mixed results, we cannot give a definitive answer here. Rather, all we can say is that if you want to lose weight with the help of green tea, matcha would be the more logical choice as the leaves are consumed entirely instead of soaking and removing them. This means you are getting more antioxidants and compounds that could help you lose weight. But that’s just our guess based on the ingredients
- Nutritional Values: Both types of green tea offer some health benefits, but the nutritional value varies between teas. Sencha tea contains a larger amount of vitamin C and vitamin E compared to matcha . However, matcha tea provides more vitamin B6 and beta-carotene.
One thing is certain: green tea remains one of the most popular drinks in the world. And if you haven’t already, we recommend trying green tea in any of its forms. But remember: if you are looking for a light and refreshing drink, reach for Sencha. Incidentally, it is also perfect for a cup of iced tea.
And when you need some energy, matcha is a great option. Both sencha and matcha have some amazing benefits that you shouldn’t miss out on. But in the end it is entirely up to you which one you prefer.
“Medicus curat, natura sanat.” – The doctor helps, nature heals. (Latin proverb)
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