When it comes to high quality, powdered green tea, you would think the choice would be easy – Matcha. Yet, with the rising demand of organic, natural tea products on the market, it’s hard not to get caught up with other appealing alternatives like Sencha powder.
We get it though, Sencha powder has everything going for it – green tea type, powdered form, and Japanese origin – however, it’s important to note that Sencha powder is not Matcha and here’s why.
When comparing farming practices, what makes Matcha unique is the fact that its tea leaves are shade-grown a month before harvesting. This technique allows the tea leaves to naturally widen and flatten, which helps later on in the refining stage. On the contrary, Sencha tea leaves are open-air grown from seed to harvest.
After the harvest, Matcha leaves go through a refining stage. The tea leaves are deveined and removed of their stems. Then, the remaining (and often the best) parts of the leaf are collected, dried, and sent to the granite stone grinders. The result? A fine powder with a particle size frequently compared to baby powder. For Sencha powder, the tea leaves are sent straight to be ground – stems, veins, and all. Plus, the grinding process is typically by machine, resulting in a larger, coarse particle size as the final product.
Taste and Color
Remember Matcha’s shade-growing process? Not only does it alter the leaves, but also the taste and color! Layers of shade help maintain the amino acid, L-theanine, found in the tea leaves, which gives Matcha its natural sweetness and umami flavor. Additionally, the lack of sunlight allows the tea leaves to maintain a high chlorophyll count, resulting in a powder with a beautiful, jade-green color. Open air growth of Sencha leaves prohibits the preservation of the amino acids found in Matcha. Consequently, the powder ends up with a flavor profile that is bitter and astringent and color that is yellow, brown in hue.
All in all, though both tea powders have many similarities, they are also extremely different. With more alternatives on the market nowadays, choose wisely!