Embark on a captivating journey into the world of Tencha, a remarkable Japanese green tea renowned for its role as the foundation of matcha. Derived from the Japanese words “ten,” meaning grind or mortar, and “cha,” signifying tea, Tencha offers a brewing experience unlike any other shaded tea, such as Gyokuro. While primarily used for matcha production, Tencha itself can be transformed into a delightful and soothing beverage. Join us as we unravel the fascinating story behind Tencha tea.
An Artistic Process: The intricate process of crafting Tencha commences even before the tea leaves are plucked. With great precision, the tea bushes are shielded from excessive sunlight through a meticulous shading period lasting 20-30 days. Utilizing tarps known as “tana” and screens woven from straw or reeds called “honzu,” this shading technique ensures the development of Tencha’s unique qualities. The first harvests of the year are often carefully selected to create Tencha, while subsequent harvests may be used for culinary-grade matcha.
Honing Perfection: Following the harvest, the Tencha leaves undergo immediate steaming to halt oxidation, as is customary for Japanese green teas. Subsequently, hot air drying and meticulous hand-processing techniques are employed to remove the veins and stems, resulting in the characteristic flat and flaky appearance of Tencha leaves. Unlike Gyokuro, Tencha leaves are not rolled or cut, but rather retain their original form. Although they may appear slightly damaged, this is merely a visual distinction and does not compromise their exceptional quality. The smaller leaf fragments with fewer stems are particularly well-suited for grinding into a fine powder.
Maturation and Grinding:
A Timeless Transformation: Tencha possesses the remarkable ability to be stored for extended periods, ranging from months to even years, before being ground into the vibrant matcha powder. This extended storage preserves its freshness and minimizes oxidation. Specialized warehouses equipped with refrigeration ensure optimal conditions for preserving the tea’s flavor and aroma. Upon receiving an order, the carefully stored leaves are ground into matcha using large granite mills, thus completing the transformative journey from Tencha to matcha.
Origin and Availability:
A Japanese Treasure: Similar to matcha, Tencha is exclusively produced in Japan. Notably, the prefectures of Kyoto and Aichi stand out as prominent regions renowned for their cultivation of Tencha, alongside other shaded teas like Kabusencha and Gyokuro. While precise production figures for Tencha remain challenging to ascertain due to the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries’ inclusive reporting, the Tencha featured in this article hails from the picturesque region of Wazuka in Kyoto, adding a touch of authenticity to your tea-drinking experience.
The Taste Experience:
An Ethereal Delight: For avid matcha enthusiasts, it is important to note that Tencha, when steeped as a tea, offers a distinct flavor profile. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised by its lightness, as Tencha reveals a smooth and subtly sweet taste without any hint of astringency. In terms of strength and body, it shares similarities with white tea. Delve deeper into the sensory experience, and you may even detect delightful toasted notes reminiscent of sesame, akin to those found in matcha.
Where to Find Tencha:
An Enthusiast’s Quest: While the availability of Tencha beyond Japan is limited, several reputable companies offer this exceptional tea to discerning tea connoisseurs. Explore the following recommendations for purchasing Tencha:
- Harney & Sons: Renowned for their commitment to sourcing high-quality teas and providing a delightful tea-drinking experience, Harney & Sons presents a selection of Tencha that will captivate your taste buds and elevate your tea ritual.
- Mizuba Tea: With a dedicated focus on sourcing and promoting authentic Japanese teas, Mizuba Tea offers a range of Tencha options. Immerse yourself in the unparalleled flavors and cultural richness of their carefully selected teas.
- Obubu Tea: Based in the heart of Kyoto, Obubu Tea specializes in a variety of Japanese teas, including Tencha. Experience the essence of traditional tea craftsmanship and indulge in the pure delight of their exquisite Tencha offerings.
- Yunomi: As an online marketplace dedicated to Japanese teas, Yunomi provides a gateway to explore a diverse selection of Tencha from various regions. Discover new flavor profiles and embark on a tea-tasting adventure
We Value Your Experience:
Have you had the pleasure of savoring Tencha? We would love to hear about your journey with this unique tea. Share your thoughts, impressions, and personal anecdotes in the comment section below. Let’s celebrate the joy of Tencha together.
Capturing the Essence:
The stunning visuals accompanying this article showcase Tencha sourced from the esteemed Kiroku Tea Garden in Wazuka, Kyoto. The featured Tencha belongs to the Okumidori single-cultivar variety, symbolizing the exceptional quality and meticulous craftsmanship that define Tencha tea.
Immerse Yourself in the Delights of Tencha Green Tea:
From its artistic crafting process to its unique taste experience, Tencha green tea offers a world of wonders to explore. Indulge in its subtle flavors, appreciate its cultural significance, and embark on a journey of tea appreciation that transcends boundaries.
Discover the allure of Tencha—a treasure from Japan’s tea heritage that promises to elevate your tea-drinking rituals and create moments of tranquility and bliss.