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In the interest of cutting back my caffeine intake, I’ve recently started drinking less coffee and more tea. Sencha tea is one of my favorites, and some of my friends told me it was a low-caffeine alternative. But I heard that all tea has caffeine, so I did a little research to find out the truth.
Does sencha tea have caffeine in it? Yes, sencha contains caffeine, and so does every other type of green tea. Depending on how you brew it, a cup of sencha tea contains around 20 to 30 milligrams of caffeine. Because of the way it’s made, sencha might actually have more caffeine than normal green tea; if you are caffeine sensitive, drink a small amount first to see how you feel.
The amount of caffeine in a cup of tea can vary wildly and depends on how the leaves were grown, harvested, and prepared. Some people like their sencha caffeinated, while others look for brands that offer a milder and more relaxing brew. Either way, learning about this delicious type of tea is sure to make you want to try a cup.
The Caffeine Content of Sencha Tea
An 8-ounce cup of sencha tea usually has around 20 to 30 milligrams of caffeine in it. This amount can vary quite a bit based on which tea you buy and how you prefer to brew it. However, it’s generally safe to assume that a cup of sencha will give you a caffeine boost.
It’s important to recognize that sencha tea comes from a plant, so the caffeine levels will depend on how the plant was grown. Laboratory testing is the only way to truly know how much caffeine is in a cup of tea; if you see actual amounts on a package, they’re generally based on a scientific estimate.
Factors That Influence Sencha Caffeine Content
All green tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinesis plant, which naturally contains a surprising amount of caffeine. The way that the plant is grown and harvested will change how much caffeine ends up in the box you buy off the shelf.
- Growth: Sencha plants are typically grown in direct sunlight, which often results in healthier plants and higher caffeine content. Some tea plants simply contain more caffeine than their neighbors, so expect levels to vary greatly between individual batches.
- Harvest: The most popular sencha teas are harvested at the beginning of the growing season, when the plants are still young and vibrant. Young tea leaves tend to have more caffeine, although this can vary greatly based on the plant.
- Processing: Sencha tea leaves are steamed, not roasted. This cooking process is gentler than other tea production methods and may preserve more of the caffeine content. Lightly steamed sencha teas often have a greener flavor and give drinkers more of an energy boost.
- Preparation: You can increase the caffeine content of any brewed drink by simply adding more of the main ingredient. Just as dark coffee is made with more coffee beans, you can make highly caffeinated sencha by increasing the amount of tea that you use.
As a consumer, you don’t have a lot of control over how much caffeine is in your sencha. I recommend tasting the tea to see how energetic it makes you; if you find that it’s too caffeinated, use less tea in your next batch.
Sencha Tea vs. Coffee
Sencha tea does contain caffeine, but it’s still an excellent low-caffeine alternative to a cup of coffee. This is because a cup of sencha contains about 1/3 the amount of caffeine found in your average cup of joe.
Sencha and other types of green tea have around 30 milligrams of caffeine in a single cup. Compare this to a cup of coffee, which often has about 90 to 100 milligrams of caffeine. If you get a dark roast or order espresso, the caffeine content might be even higher.
Sencha tea is also usually served in smaller portions than coffee. A tiny cup of green tea is a far more relaxing choice than a 20-ounce latte from your favorite coffee shop. And because sencha is served without sugar, you won’t feel nearly as hyper or stressed after drinking it.
Because sencha has caffeine, I wouldn’t recommend that you drink it right before bedtime. But if you need a mid-afternoon energy boost that won’t make your heart race, a cup of sencha is a time-honored choice enjoyed by tea enthusiasts from around the world.
Different Types of Sencha Tea
There are as many different types of sencha tea as there are people willing to sell them. However, if you’re looking for a different taste, you should try to find some of these varieties at the store.
- Jô sencha, or superior sencha, is what you’re most likely to find on the shelf. This is high-quality tea that has been harvested and processed according to tradition.
- Hachijuhachiya sencha refers to sencha that has been harvested 88 days after the start of spring. This tea is known for having the freshest and sweetest taste.
- Asamushi is sencha that has been steamed lightly, preserving more of the flavor and the caffeine. If you want a real energy boost, this is the sencha to try.
- Kabuse sencha is covered from the sun at the end of the growing cycle. This creates a lighter flavor and lowers the caffeine content.
How to Serve Sencha Tea
Sencha is usually sold as a loose-leaf tea. To brew sencha at home, you’ll need a kettle full of water and a traditional teapot. If you don’t have a teapot, you can make sencha in any heat-resistant container; just make sure you have a strainer on hand.
- Boil the water. You want your water to be just below boiling temperature when you introduce the tea leaves. The best way to accomplish this is to boil the water in a kettle and pour it into the teapot; it will cool down slightly in the process.
- Set up your tea station. Part of the enjoyment of Japanese comes from the brewing ritual. While the water is boiling, set out your teapot, choose your cups, and take a moment to relax your mind.
- Fill the teapot. Once your water comes to a boil, fill the teapot to a point just below the opening for the spout. If you fill the teapot any higher, some of the water will be trapped in the spout and won’t be infused with the tea leaves, resulting in a weaker overall brew.
- Add the leaves. You can use as much sencha as you like, but most people start with one teaspoon for every cup that is to be served. More sencha means more caffeine; use this knowledge to adjust the amount of energy in your cup.
- Cover the teapot. Let your sencha steep for about 1 minute. Brewing tea is a delicate balance; a longer steeping time results in a stronger brew, but it also might create an acidic flavor. Pay attention to the way the tea smells, and you will eventually know exactly when it is done.
- Pour the tea. Don’t fill the cups one at a time. Instead, pour a little in each cup, then go back and add more in even amounts. The tea at the top of the pot is weaker than the tea at the bottom, so this process makes sure everyone gets the same taste in their cup.
- Enjoy your drink. You might need to wait a second for the tea to cool down, but you can enjoy the delicious smell right away. Good sencha tea is bright green and slightly cloudly, and the steam should have notes of green fields and springtime.
You can adjust your sencha brewing method to fit the tools you use and the way you like your drink. Whatever you do, don’t boil the sencha leaves directly in water – the result will be a burnt and bitter taste with bits of leaves floating in your cup.
After you’re done, don’t forget to rinse out your pot and set it nicely on the shelf. Leftover tea can be saved for iced tea, sencha smoothies, or anything else you want to make. Cover your unused sencha leaves immediately to preserve the flavors inside.
Is sencha tea made from normal green tea?
Like other types of green tea, sencha is harvested from the Camellia Sinesis plant. Sencha leaves are typically harvested early and steamed before they are dried, rolled, and packaged for shipping.
Does sencha tea come in a powder form?
Sencha tea is usually sold as loose-leaf tea. The leaves are steamed, dried, and rolled, which creates a distinctive needle-like shape. Most powdered green tea is probably matcha, which is meant to be served with a very different brewing process.