My mom came to visit me recently. While she was here we did some sightseeing, did some shopping, and did a lot of eating. Since she knows that I drink tea every day and that I really like sencha, she tried to do me a favor and buy me some.
She was at one of the many outdoor markets here in the area, when she came upon a tea vendor. The woman had a lot of teas on display, mostly loose leaf, in the appropriate containers. The prices were all apparently very low and my mother thought she was getting a good deal and bought me some of the sencha. Let’s just say this tea reminded me why I always buy tea online. This page can help you make sense of all the different online tea stores.
When I first opened the little baggie I immediately saw all the stems. That’s never a good sign. Good quality sencha is mostly leaves. The second thing I noticed was the made in China sticker. This variety of tea comes from Japan and you don’t want to buy it from anywhere else. You definitely don’t want any from China. They have a lot of great teas there and if you want Chinese tea you should buy one of theirs, not one of their copies.
When I tried the tea, it tasted about as good as you could expect. I’m going to use it as my everyday tea, meaning I put the leaves in the bottom of a large plastic walk-around cup and keep brewing new tea on top of the old all day long. It’s a simple way to get my tea fix, but not something I would ever do with a good quality tea. Usually I use the generic brand you can find in most supermarkets, but this tea my mom bought would do just fine. Brewing good sencha is a bit more complicated.
As I mentioned, I always buy tea from online stores, mainly because it’s so difficult to find good quality varieties outside of Asia. Unless you know a tea shop you can trust, one that supplies excellent teas for a good price, I would suggest you do the same. Many of the online tea vendors have great suppliers in China and in Japan and the teas you get from them are excellent.
For the differences between the above-mentioned matcha and sencha, go here.