"Sencha" is the name of the most popular of all of the green teas in Japan. Its name actually means "common tea" and is a staple in most Japanese households. This green tea preferred because of its tanginess and fresh qualities complemented by a leaf of high uniformity and deep emerald hue. Sencha was once prepared by roasting but today Sencha is steam treated before further processing with hot-air drying* and is finally pan-fried as a final step. Sencha is also referred to as I-chi Ban Cha, or "the number one pick".
Types of Sencha Green Tea:
Shincha tea represents the first year’s harvest of Sencha. Over three quarters of all tea produced in Japanese tea gardens are Sencha, a tea selected for its pleasant sharpness and fresh qualities complementing a leaf of high uniformity and rich emerald color. The earliest season Shincha (first month's Sencha harvest) is available in April in the south of Japan, and prized for its high vitamin content, sweetness and superior flavor.
Genmaicha is the Japanese name for green tea combined with roasted brown rice. It is sometimes referred to colloquially as "popcorn tea". The flavor of Genmaicha is a mixture of green tea and roasted rice. The roasted aroma of Genmaicha in tea has the effect of lightening the bitterness of the lower grade Sencha. The brown rice gives the tea a nutty flavor. Like green tea, Genmaicha should be prepared using hot, but not boiling, water.
Unlike most Sencha cultivated in un-shaded gardens exposed to direct sunlight, Kabuse-cha Sencha requires shading tea plants a few weeks prior to harvest. Special nets are hung over the plants to obtain a natural shade without completely letting out sunlight. Kabuse-cha Sencha has a mellower flavor and more subtle color than Sencha grown in direct sunlight. The taste is a little sweeter and has a particularly fresh and "shady" or "fruity" aftertaste.
Kamairicha teas do not undergo the usual steam treatments. After a short withering, they are fired in hot iron pans of up to 300°C with repeated agitation to prevent charring. The different rolling techniques used produce teas of different leaf form. Kamairicha is processed as a pellet or a flat leaf. This Kamairi process develops sweet, mildly roasted flavors, which are very similar to the pan-fried teas produced in China today.