Sencha and matcha are two well-known Japanese green teas, but their similarity ends in their shared color category. Due to the significant increase in interest in green teas in the United States, a growing list of devoted drinkers are curious to learn more about green teas and the differences between these two traditional Japanese teas.
Although sencha is the most well-known and frequently drunk Japanese tea, it is an enigma, and its mysterious nature is part of its allure and seductive character.
This popular drink is enjoyed by 150 million people daily, according to GreenTeaHealthNews.com, and adapts to many cultural foods around the world. This green tea is refreshing and cleanses the palate with a bit of sweetness. Its fragrance has been described as a subtle grassy-floral aroma. Sencha is considered an everyday hard-working tea. Its devotees drink five to 10 cups of it throughout the day, as it is known to clear the brain and normalize the body. Japanese sencha is perfect for break times, when reflection on our daily problems can help sort things out for a better perspective. An additional advantage is that sencha is a wonderful accompaniment to foods and works well with strong, complex flavors such as curry, garlic and lighter Mexican foods.
Although sencha is available in handy teabags, steeping a pot of the tea offers a true Japanese sencha taste and relaxation experience. Use 1 tsp. sencha tea per cup; steeping time can vary from one to four minutes, and water temperature generally should be 160 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your tastes. The higher the grade of tea, the lower the water temperature, along with shorter steeping time. Another advantage of using a higher grade of tea is the additional infusions. Be sure to use spring water for the best results.
Matcha, a robust green tea, is the tea of Japanese tea ceremony fame. It now has a new lease on life with its starring role in matcha lattes and milkshakes, and even matcha cake, candy and ice cream are found around the world. Yet it still remains in a place of its own within the green tea group. When you drink matcha, you are actually consuming tea leaves, which is unique among green teas. Because of this, you get higher concentrations of catechins, powerful natural antioxidants in green teas, known for their protective effects, and other vitamins. There are two types of matcha: "koicha" (thick) and "usucha" (thin). These are terms used in the tea ceremony, known as "chanoyu."
Separate from the strict traditional rules of the tea ceremony, matcha preparation is entirely personal. In fact, the one rule that does exist is this: do not use boiling water. Matcha is made using just two items: a bamboo whisk and a matcha bowl. Traditionalists like to use the "chashaku," or bamboo matcha spoon, but any measuring spoon will do. For a strong or thicker tea, use 1 tsp. matcha to 4 to 6 oz. simmering water. For a medium-strength or thinner tea, use a quarter to a half that amount of matcha. The preparation sequence is: first put the powered matcha leaves into the bowl, then pour simmering water (hot, not boiling) over the powered tea. Use the whisk to whip up a frothy brew, then enjoy.
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