Sencha, Gyokuro and Matcha Differences

Sencha vs gyokuro vs matcha- how do they differ?

They vary in the way they are grown, harvested, and prepared.

About 75% of all tea harvested in Japan is classified as sencha. Gyokuro is a shade-grown gourmet tea rich in polyphenols. Matcha is powdered tea that is whisked to a rich foam.

Sencha
Sencha

Healthy, aromatic, and delicious. Despite its reputation as a "common" tea sencha is highly variable in quality and price. Premium sencha is most uncommon.

Cultivation
Sencha picker

For high-grade sencha, harvesters pluck either the bud or the bud plus the youngest leaf.  For good to average tea they pick the bud plus the top two leaves. For lower quality teas they pick the two top leaves, the lower leaf below them, plus parts of the twig.

After the leaves are picked they are steamed immediately taken away for preparation. Sencha is dried after steaming and, when dry enough, rolled into a variety of shapes until it is completely dry.

Gyokuro
Gyokuro

The plants are shaded from direct sunlight for approximately 3 weeks before the spring harvest. After harvesting the leaves are rolled and dried naturally.

Gyokuro is slightly sweeter than sencha and is famous for its elegant taste and color.

Gyokuro fields are shaded

Plants are grown in the shade for approximately three weeks before harvesting begins.  Removing direct sunlight in this way reduces leaf photosynthesis which alters the proportions of flavenols, amino acids, sugars, and other substances that provide tea aroma and taste.
Gyokuro cultivation
For high-quality gyokuro the leaves are (unlike sencha) aged for about 3 months. This aging blends and mellows the flavenoids and other organic compounds to produce a tea that is renowned for its smooth elegant taste.

Matcha
Matcha

Matcha differs from gyokuro in that the leaves are not rolled at all.

After steaming gyokuro leaves, they are thoroughly dried, then ground into a super-fine powder, and that powder is what is known as matcha.

Matcha is potent and concentrated and whips into a thick, invigorating brew. An excellent morning tea, or an energizing beverage before any form of exercise.