Senchado for every day
Senchado is a semi-formal Japanese tea brewing method. It means “the way of sencha”.
Senchado is the preferred way to prepare higher grades of green tea, particularly gyokuro and sencha, as it helps to concentrate their flavour and aroma, and enhance appreciation through multiple infusions. This preparation style may also be used to brew other styles of Japanese tea.
Senchado is most recognisable for its application in tea ceremonies, both religious and secular. It offers a wonderful way to appreciate tea, whether for your everyday ritual of personal focus and introspection, or for welcoming guests to Japanese tea.
Key factors to brewing
There is adage in the tea world that says, ‘the fresher the leaf, the lower the water temperature’ should be. This is particularly true of Japanese green teas. Too hot, and the tea can taste bitter. Too cold, and the infusion may not taste strong enough.
Thankfully, getting the temperature right is easy. Each time you transfer hot water from one vessel to another, the temperature drops by around 10 degrees centigrade. Hence, this is why it is common in Senchado to use small ceramic bowls for holding water before pouring into the teapot.
Alternatively, you can simply use a temperature controlled kettle.
Rather than brew for longer, you can adjust the strength of the tea to your liking by brewing with more leaf instead.
A long infusion time of steamed green tea, especially with hotter water, will rapidly extract mouth-drying astringency and bitterness. Try not to exceed 1 minute steeping time for any single infusion.
Teas like gyokuro are an exception to this rule, because they tend to be more tender, less astringent and brew at a lower water temperature anyway.
With every infusion, the tea will absorb some of the water; don’t worry, we’ve factored this in to the guides below. Naturally, tea will absorb the most water from the first infusion, which helps to soften the leaf. Subsequent infusions will reveal more flavour and aroma as a result of a gradually unfurled leaf.
Suitable types of tea
Gyokuro, Kabuse Sencha
For these deep-shaded, tender teas, our recommendation is to start lukewarm and finish with water that is a few minutes off the boil. This allows you to appreciate the taste spectrum of this exquisitely tender tea.
• 5–7g tea
60ml water at 40°C • 90 seconds
50ml water at 60°C • 10 seconds
50ml water at 90°C • Serve immediately
Black tea and roasted teas
Japanese black tea, roasted green tea and rice-blended teas respond well to higher temperature brewing. As a general guide, we recommend abiding by the following parameters:
• 4g tea
100ml water at 90°C • 40–60 seconds
100ml water at 100°C • Serve immediately
Sencha, Bancha, Karigane
All steamed green teas
If you’re ever in doubt, try brewing with these parameters, which are effective and easy to follow. Feel free to adjust brewing time and temperature to your liking.
• 5-7g tea
60ml water at 60°C • 30–60 seconds
60ml water at 80°C • Serve immediately
60ml water at 90°C • Serve immediately