What is the difference between gyokuro, sencha and matcha?
All green teas come from the same Camellia sinensis plant. The differences are in the way they are grown and harvested.
The most common green tea, about 75% of all teas harvested in Japan is sencha. Healthy, aromatic, and delicious. Despite its reputation as a "common" tea sencha is highly variable in quality and price.
Gyokuro leaves are shaded from direct sunlight for approximately 3 weeks before the spring harvest. Removing direct sunlight in this way enhances the proportions of flavenols, amino acids, sugars, and other substances that provide tea aroma and taste. After harvesting the leaves are rolled and dried naturally.
Gyokuro is slightly sweeter than sencha and has is famous for its crisp, clean taste.
Matcha differs from gyokuro in that the leaves are not rolled at all. After steaming, the leaves are thoroughly dried. This is tencha. The tencha is then ground into a superfine powder, and that powder is what is known as matcha.
Our matcha teas vary in quality and price.
Matcha is the tea of chanoyu (Japanese Tea Ceremony) and whips into a thick, invigorating brew. An excellent morning tea, or an energizing beverage before any form of aerobic exercise.
In Japanese "shin" means new and "cha means tea. Shincha is, literally, new tea. Shincha consists of tea leaves that have been harvested and very lightly steamed immediately after harvesting.
Shincha has the aroma of freshly picked leaves. Perishable and highly aromatic, shincha is only sold at Japanese Green Tea Online from May through July, or as long as supplies last.
Sencha and gyokuro remain fresh year-round because of the way they are steamed and stored under optimum conditions. Sencha and gyokuro teas that are bought in January are just as fresh as teas bought in May right after the harvest.
This is not the case with shincha. Because it is so lightly steamed immediately after the harvest true "shincha" is only available at tea shops in Japan from May through July or as long as supplies last.
If you see shincha at other shops during the winter it is not real shincha, it is sencha. Tea growers only process a very small percentage of their harvest as shincha. They take the same leaves and process them as sencha