The Japanese refer to tea as "Ocha" : the "Cha" translates as tea, and the "O" is placed before it to signify "that which is honored". Tea is an essential ingredient in Japanese life, and the inhabitants of this intoxicating island consume almost all of the tea it produces.
Sencha is very popular in Japan and is traditionally known as a "guest tea," brought out to impress others (just as we, in America, might with fine china or crystal). There is actually a Sencha tea ceremony, with several schools offering courses for this fine art.
The highest quality teas in Japan come from the prefectures of Shizuoka and Uji. Our Sencha comes from Shizuoka. Beginning at the end of April/start of May of every year, many Japanese head to Shizuoka to witness the first leaf growth. This is known as the "first Cha" or "wakabi".
Much of the elegance and color of this fine tea is due in part to the Japanese style of processing: steamed immediately after plucking, it is then air-dried. These two steps help preserve the flavor, fragrance, and wonderful color of the tea. Finally, the leaves are either roasted or pan-fried, helping them to achieve the mild, nutty flavor they are prized for.
Sencha is a vivid green tea with exceptionally smooth leaves that provide a clear, yellow-green liquid that is grassy, sweet, and clearly astringent. Invite the neighbors over for tea and enjoy!