Removing the leaves from the water, a light vegetal aroma of steamed spinach and artichoke hearts, paired with the slight sweetness of steamed rice wafts from the cup. In the mouth, a soft, spinachy flavor with the sweetness of steamed white rice envelops your tongue, without any of the roasted flavors of nuts or nori.
With its clean vegetal flavors and a pleasant, medium body, Tencha makes for a wonderful tutor. Merely chopped up and air dried, Tencha offers one of the purest expressions of mature tea leaves. Tencha has no roasted flavors, only pure vegetal notes. It makes for a wonderful comparison with the roasted flavors of the other great green teas, Japanese and Chinese alike.
Tencha is a shade-grown tea like Gyokuro, covered over during the last three weeks before the earl May harvest. The best Tencha comes from the Uji tea fields in Kyoto prefecture, where it originated, as well as from Mie prefecture to the southeast. Immediately after harvesting, the teas are steam-fixed to preserve their brilliant green color. Unlike Gyokuro or Sencha, Tencha leaves are not rolled; they are merely chopped up and then placed in a cylinder, where they are blown with warm air. Tencha is hardly ever drunk in Japan; the leaves are usually ground into Matcha powder. Though rare, Tencha makes for a delightfully light, refreshing cup of tea.