Gyokuro vs. sencha tea. Subtle variations between these two teas create big differences! While the leaves of a tea plant are the source for all tea, how it is harvested, prepared and brewed makes a huge difference in both color and taste. Two of the more popular teas are Gyokuro and Sencha which have notable differences, but also some similarities.

What is Gyokuro Tea?

Gyokuro is a tea that came from plants which were covered during the winter months to avoid damage from frost. A tea merchant, Kahei Yamamoto VI sampled the tea brewed from the leaves and enjoyed the results. Originally called Bead of Dew, the tea eventually became known as Gyokuro.

What is Sencha Tea?

Sencha was named after a processing method created by Baisao, who sold tea in the Kyoto region during the 18th century. The name Sencha reflects the simmering method used to create the tea. Instead of pan-frying the leaves which was common during that time, Baisao instead placed the leaves in boiling water and then let it simmer.

What are the Differences?

Production: The production and processing of Gyokuro and Sencha are similar in many regards with one important difference. Like Matcha Tea, Gyokuro tea leaves are shaded during the growing stages for about three weeks in the spring. This reduces the amount of chlorophyll present in the leaf which in turn affects the taste. Once the three weeks of shading have passed, the leaves are harvested, rolled, and dried naturally. 

Sencha is not shaded with the leaves fully exposed to the sun. Otherwise, it is harvested, rolled, and dried naturally just like Gyokuro.

Taste: Gyokuro tea offers a pale-yellow coloring combined with a sweet taste that has the unmistakable umami flavor included. Sencha tea also has a yellowish coloring but has a strong taste and pungent after-taste that is considerably different compared to Gyokuro.

Umani Levels: Because of the growing process, Gyokuro has some of the highest levels of umami found in any tea. While Sencha also has considerable levels of umami, it is nowhere near what Gyokuro tea provides. For those who are looking for more umami, then Gyokuro tea is the one.

What are the Similarities of Gyokuro vs. Sencha?

Both Gyokuro and Sencha are green teas and come from the same type of tea leaf. The harvesting, rolling, and drying processes are also quite similar.

How to Brew Gyokuro vs Sencha?

Both teas have their own brewing process. For brewing Gyokuro tea, you take a few tea leaves and let them steep in water set at a temperature of 50 degrees for approximately 90 seconds. Then, pour the tea into small cups and take sips. This is the way Gyokuro tea is meant to be brewed and presented.

Sencha requires a special tea set designed to keep the water at a preferred temperature. The water must be at 70 degrees and letting the leaves steep for at least 2 to 3 minutes. Then pour the tea into small cups and serve.

Both Gyokuro tea and Sencha tea have their unique flavor, umami levels, and plenty of healthy antioxidants and other nutrients that make them excellent for serving at lunch, dinner, or tea time.