For many people, all Japanese green tea might seem to be the same. So when they hear words like “Sencha” or “Matcha,” they probably don’t even realize how different these two forms of Japanese green tea really are! Here’s a quick guide to the major differences between Japanese sencha green tea and matcha green tea.

Difference #1: Growing Methods

The biggest difference between Japanese Sencha green tea and Matcha green tea involves how they are grown. Japanese Sencha green tea is grown in full sunlight, while Matcha green tea is grown in the shade. This has a real impact on what’s inside your tea, as we’ll see below…

Difference #2: Preparation

Moreover, even the way the tea is harvested and prepared is vastly different. The key difference here is that with Matcha green tea, the leaves are deveined and the stems are removed before the leaves are ground up into a fine powder. In contrast, with Japanese Sencha green tea, whole leaves are ground up, including stems and veins. The extra manual labor required to prepare matcha green tea is one reason why it is often priced higher.

Difference #3: Taste & Colour

There is a clear difference in taste profiles between these two green teas. Matcha green tea powder is bright green, and the tea itself is usually described as being creamy. Moreover, after drinking, there is no pungent aftertaste. In contrast, Japanese Sencha green tea produces a dark green powder that is often characterized as a “grassy” flavor profile. It is more pungent than the matcha green tea. However, Japanese Sencha green tea is more robust and refreshing.

Difference #4: Caffeine & L-Theanine

Here is where the difference in growing methods (see #1 above) really matters. Since Matcha green tea is grown in the shade, it retains more of its caffeine content. In addition, it contains more L-Theanine, which is what accounts for the very relaxing, meditative mood produced by drinking Matcha green tea. As a result, green tea lovers will tell you that matcha green tea is superior to Japanese Sencha green tea – it gives them more energy (due to the enhanced amounts of caffeine) and it also helps them feel more relaxed (due to the enhanced L-Theanine content).

Difference #5: Antioxidants

Finally, one crucial difference involves the number of beneficial antioxidants (known as catechins) that are in each cup of green tea. As a general rule, Japanese Sencha green tea has more antioxidants, and this is also a result of the growing method: more time in the direct sunlight means more exposure to the sun, which means more healthy antioxidants.

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So, as you can see, there are five primary differences between Japanese Sencha green tea and Matcha green tea. Factors like how they are grown and harvested have a very real impact on flavor, taste, caffeine content and antioxidant content. This is definite proof that not all Japanese green teas are created the same! Whether you choose to drink Japanese sencha green tea or matcha green tea is really a matter of preference. Of course, Matcha and Sencha are not the only Japanese green teas available. Far from it in fact! If you’re still trying to decide between the two, perhaps you should give one of the others a go to break the tie…

This post was originally posted on our sister-site, I Love Green Tea.