Tencha - Pure Elegant Flavor
What is Tencha?
Tencha is the name for tea leaves used for Matcha, before the leaves are ground into fine powder. The Tencha flavor, brewed by same way with Gyokuro, is quite unique, pure, noble, and elegant. The tea color is pale green, the taste is deep and mellow, and the subtle noble aroma lingers in the mouth for a while. It is different both from Gyokuro and Matcha.
Tea leaves for Tencha are grown in the same way as Gyokuro, but processed differently than Gyokuro. Tea leaves for Tencha and Gyokuro are grown in the shade for 20 or 30 days before harvest, so that both contain much Theanine, which is the source of its smooth and mellow taste. Harvested fresh tea leaves are first steamed. Then in the case of Gyokuro, the steamed tea leaves are dried and kneaded by crumpling. In contrast to Gyokuro, the steamed tea leaves for Tencha are dried but not kneaded. Then to make Matcha, Tencha is ground into fine powder.
Tencha is not kneaded, in contrast to Gyokuro or Sencha. The cell walls of the tea leaves are broken down by the kneading process, so that all elements of Gyokuro and Sencha can easily be infused into water. Only the elements of pure elegant flavor are infused. And unlike Gyokuro or Sencha, it is not easy to extract the flavor from Tencha during the brewing process. Only high grade or highest grade Tencha can brew flavorfully in water.
The special growing and processing of Tencha creates its unique and pure elegant flavor.
Shaded from sunlight in "Tana" canopy
Drying process for Tencha
Kneading process for Gyokuro or Sencha
Tencha tea leaves
Gyokuro tea leaves
Tencha flavor is uniquely pure and elegant
A Tip to Enjoy Tencha
Tencha can be brewed in the same way as Gyokuro (same tea leaves weight, same water temperature and amount, and waiting time). There is only one difference: Tencha is only half the weight of Gyokuro or Sencha tea leaves; it is 50% lighter. So, please put about two times (2x) the cubical content of Tencha tea leaves in Kyusu tea pot.
Because Tencha is lightweight, some Tencha leaves may float on the water surface, and are not saturated with water. In that case, please press the tea leaves down into the water to soak and become saturated with water, as shown in the picture on the above.
- Tea leaves: 3 tablespoons (7 - 8g)
- Water temperature: 140 - 158F (60 - 70C)
- Amount of water: 200ml (7.04fl oz)
- Waiting time: 1 1/2 - 2min.
* For a deeper and mellower flavor, brew for longer time (2 1/2 - 3min).
Iced Tencha can be brewed in the same way as Iced Gyokuro. (Iced Tencha Recipes)
In the case that some Tencha leaves may float on the water surface, please press the tea leaves down into the water to soak.
To brew for longer time, the flavor becomes deeper and mellower.
Iced Tencha is also very lovely.
Have you tried Iced Tencha? Tencha teas are limited edition only available in this summer. Iced Tencha has a unique, excellent, and noble flavor which is different both from Iced Gyokuro and Matcha. The subtle aroma lingers in the mouth for a while. The unique flavor of Tencha has quietly been enjoyed only by Matcha manufacturers for many years.
You can prepare Iced Tencha using the same brewing method as Iced Gyokuro. There are three different ways to brew Iced Tencha, (1) brewing by ice, (2) brewing by hot water once and cooling quickly, and (3) brewing by cool water. Each brewing method creates a unique flavor.
Tencha is only half the weight of Gyokuro or Sencha tea leaves; it is 50% lighter. So, please put about two times (2x) the cubical content of Tencha tea leaves in Kyusu tea pot.
(1) Brewing by ice
- Place 7 to 8g (3 tablespoons) of Tencha tea leaves into the Kyusu (teapot).
- Fill the Kyusu with pieces of ice.
- Wait for the ice to thaw naturally at room temperature (do not heat the Kyusu).
- It is finished when the pieces of ice are fully thawed.
- Pour the tea from the Kyusu into each glass alternately little by little, so that the quantity and taste of the tea is equal in each glass.
(2) Brewing by hot water once and cooling quickly
- Place 7 to 8g (3 tablespoons) of Tencha tea leaves into the Kyusu (teapot).
- Pour 200ml (7.04fl oz) of 176F (80C) temperature of water into the Kyusu.
- Wait for 2 to 3 minutes. You'll want to brew the tea quite strongly because later the thawed ice will weaken the flavor.
- Pour tea from the Kyusu into each glass filled with pieces of ice to cool the tea quickly. Pour alternately little by little, so that the quantity and taste of the tea is equal in each glass.
- Because Tencha is lightweight, some Tencha leaves may float on the water surface. In that case, please press the tea leaves down into the water to soak and become saturated with water.
(3) Brewing by cool water
- Place 7 to 10g (1.5 to 2 tablespoons) of Gyokuro or Sencha tea leaves into the teapot (or large size Kyusu).
- Pour 500 to 1000ml (17.6 to 35.2fl oz) of cool water into the teapot (or large size Kyusu) and store in the refrigerator for 3 to 6 hours.
- In order to equalize the taste of the tea, shake the Kyusu horizontally before pouring the tea into each glass.
You can brew Iced Tencha with Tencha Pinnacle and Tencha Super Premium. They are both limited edition only available in summer.
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Why is Tencha Flavor a Secret?
Tencha is the name for tea leaves used for Matcha, before the leaves are ground into fine powder. Traditionally, Tencha was not brewed like Gyokuro or Sencha, because this was neither included in the traditional Tea Ceremony teachings nor allowed.
When tea manufacturers purchase or bid on Tencha from the farmer, or when they process or blend Tencha, they must evaluate each case of tea leaves to check the Aracha process, the finishing process, blending conditions, and so on. To grind Tencha into the fine powder of Matcha requires enormous time and great care. For example, it takes an hour to grind 40g or 70g (1.41oz or 1.47oz) Matcha. In addition, Matcha does not keep fresh as long as Tencha. Once the tea is ground into Matcha, it begins to oxidize and loose its fresh flavor. So, tea manufacturers have traditionally evaluated and bid on Tencha tea leaves, not Matcha. Of course, the manufacturer evaluates the quality of the Matcha at the end of the process, before it is sent to the customer. Even at tea competitions attended by tea manufacturers, tea is evaluated in Tencha tea leaf form, not Matcha powder.
Because of this, only tea manufacturers have known the flavor of Tencha. It has remained secret for many years. The flavor, which is different from Gyokuro and Matcha, is uniquely very pure and elegant, though drinking Tencha is not allowed by the rules of Tea Ceremony. The tea color is pale green, the taste is deep and mellow, and the subtle noble aroma lingers in the mouth for a while.
We would like tea connoisseurs from around the world to discover and enjoy the unique and pure elegant flavor of Tencha.
Tencha tea leaves
Evaluating Tencha tea leaves for blending
Pressing the tea leaves down into the water to soak. Tencha leaves float on the water surface because Tencha is lightweight.
Evaluating in flavor
Cultivation and Production Steps of Tencha
like to introduce Tencha cultivation and production steps.
Fertilizing at Tencha, Matcha, and Gyokuro Tea Farm
Tea trees for Tencha, Matcha, and Gyokuro are fertilized three times as much as other kinds of tea, such as Sencha, in order to create the characteristic deep sweet taste. Please see the pictures below from a Tencha (Matcha) tea farm where the tea trees are fed about three times the usual amount of fertilizer as well as another tea farm.
Twenty to thirty days before harvest, green tea trees for Tencha, Matcha, and Gyokuro are covered with special curtains. These curtains are used to shade tea trees from direct sunlight. Tea grown this way has a sweet and mild flavor, because without sunlight there will be few bitter tannins. Carefully grown in the shade for twenty days before harvesting, a cup of Tencha, Matcha, or Gyokuro has several unique features: an elegant aroma, a sweet taste and a light green color. Shading tea sprouts from the sun creates Theanine, a natural element that gives Tencha, Matcha, and Gyokuro a mellow taste. Tencha Pinnacle and Tencha Super Premium are carefully harvested by hand.
Aracha Processing of Tencha
Tea leaves which have not yet been ground into the fine powder of Matcha are known as Tencha. Fresh tea leaves are processed just after harvest. At the most, they should be processed within 24 hours after harvest. Tencha (Matcha) processing includes 1) Steaming, 2) Cooling down, and 3) Drying. Matcha tea leaves before ground into powder are called Tencha.
In contrast to that, processing steps for Gyokuro and Sencha are 1) Steaming, 2) Kneading, 3) Shaping, and 4) Drying. Tea leaves for Tencha (Matcha) are not Kneaded at the processing steps.
By the kneading process, the cell walls of the tea leaves are broken down, so that the flavor (and beneficial nutrients naturally found in tea leaves) can easily infuse into water. Because Matcha is ground into fine powder, kneading is not necessary to break down the cell walls. So, Tencha is not kneaded. Since Tencha does not go through the kneading process and is not ground into powder, this is one reason why the flavor of Tencha is quite unique, pure, noble, and elegant.
Fertilized at tea tree roots
Farms built "Tana" canopy
Tea leaves for Tencha in "Tana" canopy
Hand picked harvest
Tea leaves for Tencha (Matcha) are not Kneaded at the processing steps.
Tea leaves are uniformly spread and conveyed to the steaming process.
Tea leaves dry in a three or four level fire pit, heated from underneath by a burner.
Tea leaves emerging from the fire pit
Simple Tips to Enhance the Pure Elegant Flavor of Tencha in Summer
Summer here in Ujitawara, Kyoto is swelteringly hot. To deal with the summer heat, we would like to introduce two special enjoyments to enhance the pure, elegant flavor of Tencha.
First of all, we recommend brewing Tencha stronger than usual. To intensify the depth of flavor, you can increase the quantity of tea leaves of Tencha. Add an additional 25 - 50% tea leaves and follow the brewing temperatures and times listed above (A Tip to Enjoy Tencha). Even if you add extra Tencha tea leaves, the flavor will remain pure with no off-flavors, since tea leaves for Tencha are not kneaded. Unlike Sencha or Gyokuro, which are dried and kneaded by crumpling, the cells of Tencha tea leaves are not broken down. You will certainly enjoy the quite deep mellow and pure elegant flavor of Tencha.
We also recommend enjoying a cup of tea in the early hours of the morning in the summer. Even in the summer season, this time of day has a quiet, cool and calm atmosphere, which will also calm and cool you. Tencha, which is used to make Matcha, contains much Theanine and Caffeine. Theanine is one kind of amino acid, which helps to relax the mind and body. After your mind and body relax, Caffeine works to improve your concentration, which will continue for 1.5 to 3 hours or more. You can guard against heat fatigue and dehydration with our pure and elegant Tencha tea. It is indeed a special treat to start the day.
We hope that the above tips will help to deepen your green moment in the summer, and help you to stay cool and beat the heat!