Jian Cha (Shade-Grown Sencha)

Organic Green Tea 2016

The deep jade leaves of Sencha offer a very clear and green infusion. The flavor is sweet and lightly grassy, with aromas of springtime flowers.

Clear selection

Tea Origin
Northwest Zhejiang, China

Tea Bush
Guo Cha 12

Tea Master
Fang Jin Hong

Harvest Time
end of April to middle of May

Picking Standard
2 or 3 leaves

Sencha, now a very popular Japanese tea, originally came from China. Historical records from the Three Kingdom Period (190-220) mention that tea was made using high temperature steam for short periods of time. The famous tea master, Lu Yu, wrote the first tea book during the Tang dynasty (618-907). In this book, Cha Jing, he wrote in detail about how to make Jian Cha. In that time, after the tea was steamed, it was pressed into cakes. Later, about 600 years ago, Chinese tea culture changed and they began to drink loose tea instead of cake tea.

Japanese people started coming to China to study Chinese culture, including tea culture, during the 12th century. Japanese tea knowledge was especially influenced during the Song dynasty (960-1279), when a powdered green tea called matcha was popular. In the 17th century, during the Ming dynasty, a monk named Ying Yuan brought loose leaf Sencha to Japan. It became immediately popular with the upper classes and the royal family, and later became common in all households. Sencha became so popular because it is not as complicated to use as matcha. The simplicity of Sencha promotes relaxation, peace, respect, and a clear mind.

Around 500 years ago, the Chinese invented the technique of hand-frying tea leaves on a hot wok to stop oxidation, and steamed tea fell out of favor in China. The steaming technique keeps a lot of chlorophyll and amino acids in the tea leaves, so tea made in this way has a very unique character. Chinese people call it Three Green tea, because the dry tea leaves look like jade, the tea liquid is bright green, and the wet tea leaves are spring green. The flavor of steamed teas is grassy, while wok-fried teas are more floral or fruity. Chinese people prefer the wok-fried teas, but Japanese people continue to enjoy steamed teas for the feeling of walking in a springtime field.

Although Chinese people do not drink much Sencha, they produce the majority of Sencha for other countries. Tea bushes like warm climates with plenty of moisture, but not direct sunlight. Research has shown that shade-grown tea has more sweetness and a better aroma than tea grown without shade. Some fine teas are grown high in the mountains where the climate is very misty and cloudy, so the tea bushes are always shaded, but Sencha is grown at a lower elevation where it is sunnier. For high quality Sencha, the tea farmers build shade structures over the tea bushes so that the sunlight is filtered.

Our shade-grown Sencha comes from the northwest region of Zhejiang province, which is famous in Chinese history for growing green tea. Lu Yu spent much of his life living in this area, and completed his book there. The area is filled with low mountains, and the elevation averages around 500 meters, so there is not much danger of frost for the tea bushes. Rainfall is very good, with almost half of the days each year bringing rain. The soil is red and yellow mixed together with the pH level around 5, which is very favorable for growing tea. Our Sencha is picked in early May, which is earlier than most Sencha.

When infusing Sencha, make sure that the water temperature is less than 180°F. These tea leaves will provide at least four infusions.

No chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide was used in the production of this tea. Click here to read more about our promise to fair trade and the environment.


Jian Cha (Shade-Grown Sencha) brewing guidelines

Teaware: 12 oz. glass or porcelain pot
Amount: ¾ Tbs of tea leaves
Water: 180°F filtered water
Infusion: First infusion at least 1 minute. The leaves are good for 5 infusions.