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Matcha vs Sencha vs Green Tea: What are the Differences?

Matcha vs Sencha
Photo courtesy of Japanese Green Tea Company

You've likely heard of matcha and sencha, and know that they're a type of green tea, but you may not know how they differ (as it turns out, quite a bit!). We're here to uncover the similarities and differences between matcha and sencha with the help of our friend, Kei Nishida, author and founder and CEO of Japanese Green Tea Company

Texture

Matcha and sencha are two types of green tea that come from the same plant species known as camellia sinensis, yet they have a dramatically different texture. Matcha is a fine, vibrant green powder that has been stone-ground, while sencha is the loose leaf that has been steamed and rolled. 

Matcha vs SenchaMatcha vs Sencha
Photo courtesy of Japanese Green Tea Company

Growth

Sencha comes from green tea plants that have been grown in direct sunlight. Matcha, on the other hand, comes from green tea plants that are covered and grown in the shade just before harvest. This increases the amount of chlorophyll in the leaves, giving them their bright green color. High-grade matcha is grown in almost complete darkness. 

Matcha vs Sencha
Photo courtesy of Japanese Green Tea Company

Harvesting and Processing

Sencha is made from the stem, shoot, and two or three opened leaves of the green tea plant. This is then steamed, pressed and dried.

Match is made from the youngest part of the plant - the two leaves at the very tip of the shoot. Similar to sencha, these are steamed to preserve their color and nutrients, however, the stems and veins are carefully removed and then the leaves are ground into a fine powder using special granite grinders. 

Health Benefits

Green tea is considered to be one of the healthiest beverages in the world. It's rich in antioxidants including polyphenols, L-theanine, catechins and EGCG which are said to help lower the risk of cancer. It is also said to help with weight loss and to improve brain function. 

Matcha is said to have more health benefits compared to sencha because instead of just steeping the leaves, you are consuming the whole leaf when drinking a cup of matcha. 

Price

Matcha tends to be more expensive than sencha because of its unique growing process, its involved processing techniques and the care and skill it takes to produce. Quality matcha is also only grown in specific regions in Japan. The purest quality matcha is used for special occasions and in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony (hence the name ceremonial grade). 

Taste and Color

Matcha should have a vibrant, bright green (almost neon) color and will have a slightly sweet yet earthy flavor. It's best served whisked using a bamboo whisk in a large ceramic cup with a slightly bubbly layer of foam on top. Sencha tends to have a more muted color when steeped and a slightly bitter aftertaste. 

Matcha vs Sencha
Photo courtesy of Japanese Green Tea Company

Learn more at Japanese Green Tea Company.

About the author

Lillian Hanako Rowlatt is the co-founder of Kokoro Care Packages. Lillian is a half-Japanese, half-British Canadian currently living in LA. She spent almost a decade in finance (capital markets) before co-founding Kokoro Care Packages with Aki Sugiyama in 2018. She is passionate about sharing her Japanese heritage and preserving the traditions of Japan. She has a math degree and studied Kumon for 14 years while being ranked #1 in North America. She believes in the power of community and connections, nature and wellness, and the importance of a good night's sleep.

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