煎 Sen means infusion and 茶 cha means Tea. So together an infusion of tea. This is the opposite of Matcha. The Ma 抹 means rubbed. They rub (pulverize) tea leaves into a powder. The powder containing tea leaves is directly incorporated into the tea itself.
Green tea comes from the tree Camellia Sinensis. The same tree as all true teas, green, black, white or otherwise. The major difference between green tea and other tea is the processing of the leaf after it is plucked. Shortly after it is plucked, it is steamed very fast, this stops an oxidation process. The Japanese use a steamed method and the Chinese use a pan heated method both take a short amount of time before it is further processed. They then dry and roll the leaves in a variety of ways. The quality of green tea depends on a few factors, which flush(1st flush = first pick) it was picked on, if and how long the tree has been shaded before picking(produces a distinct sweeter flavor), and processes like roasting and the method of drying the leaves.
Forewarning, I am no tea expert. Enjoying Ocha very much since I was a child, I discovered tastes of tea that I love and, also those that I do not like. I have learned this way of drinking Sencha from my family and decided to write it down for others to learn. Many people improperly brew green tea, and many still do not know that there is a difference between steeping black and green teas. I was a bit wary of making a blog post of Ocha because I am no practitioner of tea as some even go to special schools for this. But as a commoner drinking tea and a lover of green teas of all types I would like to share this information.
The directions are pretty simple and straightforward but it is worthwhile to give step by step directions.
Step 1 Boil Water.
It is said that spring water has a superior taste in tea, but I have not myself tasted a major difference between tea made from filtered water and spring water. If you wish for the absolute highest quality go with spring water.
Step 2 Let the water cool down to 70c° to 90c° (160f° to 190f°)
This is the most important step. Generally speaking the optimum is 70c°. As a young boy, i recall my father saying if I use boiling water, I would kill the good things in the green tea. The temperature ranges though by the quality of the green tea. The higher quality, the lower the temperature, (down to 50C° for absolute best quality green tea) and the longer the steeping time needs yo be. The lower the quality, you can use a higher temperature, (90C°) and a shorter steeping time is needed. While these temperatures are exact, many people do not have any way to accurately measure their water temperature. To obtain approximate proper water temperature, after boiling the water, let it cool for about 7 minutes and it should be around this temperature depending on weather, outside temperature and elevation. **On the second steeping of the leaves you should use a higher temperature than the first steeping.
Step 3 Add 2-3 spoons of green tea to a small teapot.
I brew sencha a bit stronger as it is how I drink my green tea. 2.5g per 100mL water per person. You can adjust however weak or strong based on this.
Step 4 Pour cooled water into teapot.
Tradition has it, one should pour the boiling water first in each cup. This is to warm the cup as the water cools down within. After the water is cooled in the cups it is then added into the teapot for infusion. While this may be so, it seems a bit impractical unless you are sitting down to enjoy tea and tea only.
Step 5 Steep for 1-2 minutes.
Steeping times will vary according to the quality of the sencha leaves.
Step 6 Pour into cup and enjoy.
The type of Sencha I am using is an organic Sencha made in Austria. I had previously only purchased Japanese imported tea for my green tea needs. Therefore, i was very hesitant to purchase a green tea grown and processed in Austria. I was surprised to find the taste was that of an average quality Sencha from Japan. My theory is that whoever processed this did not separate the good and low quality into different grades but combined everything to get more yield. As an inexpensive, organic, and locally grown product, I now buy this tea. (Unless i get my hands on a higher quality import from Japan!)