Fukamushi sencha is a type of deep-steamed Japanese green tea. It’s not as popular as standard sencha, but it’s also produced in great quantities in Japan. Maybe you’ve already tasted fukamushi sencha, but didn’t realize it. How can you tell?
The steaming process is of vital importance in Japanese green teas. This step stops the oxidation of the tea leaves at an early stage, which is precisely the goal when making green tea. For standard sencha, the steaming process generally runs for 30 to 45 seconds. This is called futsuu-mushi sencha (normal-steamed sencha).
However, if the steaming is increased 2 to 3 times (60 to 120 seconds), the resulting sencha is called fukamushi sencha (deep-steamed sencha). If it’s steamed even longer than that, it’s called tokumushi sencha (special-steamed sencha), but that’s a topic for another post.
Where is fukamushi sencha produced and why?
Fukamushi sencha is made in the prefectures of Shizuoka, Mie, and Kagoshima. Out of these, Shizuoka is the undisputed king of fukamushi sencha production: more than 70 percent of the sencha made there is deep-steamed! You may be wondering, “so what’s the big deal with deep-steaming?” Increasing the steaming time has both pros and cons, but many Japanese green tea drinkers (especially from the prefectures mentioned above) think it’s worth it. The best feature of fukamushi sencha is that it has a lower astringency and more sweetness. However, this comes at a price. The aroma is weaker compared to normal sencha, and the leaves become fragile, often breaking into little pieces. The leaf appearance makes it look like a lower-grade green tea, although it isn’t. The small, broken leaf particles are also responsible for the dark-green color of the liquor of fukamushi sencha.
To someone who hasn’t tried fukamushi sencha before, it looks like an overbrewed, bitter green tea. On the other hand, these particles also increase the amount of beneficial compounds in the tea itself, so it’s a good trade-off.
How to brew:
Fukamushi sencha is brewed in the same manner as normal sencha. However, the steeping time is lower. I suggest that you use 60 ml (2 oz) of water at 80C (176F), 3 grams of leaves (3/4 teaspoon) and brew for 40 seconds. It’s best to use a teapot that has a mesh with very fine openings, otherwise it won’t filter the small bits. It’s also easy for fukamushi sencha to clog your infuser if its area isn’t big enough. You can find a kyusu, (Japanese teapot), specially meant for fukamushi sencha.
Have you tried fukamushi sencha yet? If so, did you like it, or do you prefer other types of Japanese tea?
Images provided by the author.