Health,  Tea Culture

Fukamushi-sencha: The Interesting Benefits of Drinking “Deep Steamed” Tea.

Fukamushi-sencha is a fairly recent type of sencha, developed 1970’s in Makinohara, Shizuoka. The Makinohara area is a large sencha producing area because they have well-drained rich soil and warm weather. The land here is quite flat which facilitates the operation of tea farms. However the terrain also has the tea leaves exposed to sunlight for longer than tea grown in mountainous areas. This resulted in tea leaves grown in Makinohara being thicker, larger and somewhat bitter.

This video is from a different blog post we did but highlights the production of fukamushi-sencha

Not everyone was a fan of the bitter tea. Teas from Makinohara were considered lower quality. The tea farmers in Makinohara found a workaround for the bitter tea, though.

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They found that steaming the leaves for about two to three times longer than regular sencha removed much of the bitterness. The resultant tea was called fukamushi-sencha. Fuka means “deep” and mushi means “steaming” in Japanese. This longer steaming results is coarser leaves and greener, cloudy cup. Even though the resulting leaves were coarser, their taste was far more approachable. The farmers focused the taste rather than the shape.

Fukamushi-sencha from Chiran, Kagoshima.

The popularity of fukamushicha (an epiphet for fukamushi-sencha) spread to surrounding cities of Makinohara, such as Kakegawa. The people of Kakegawa actually became famous in Japan when they were featured on a program produced by NHK TV.

The program investigated the population of Kakegawa. They experienced the lowest death rate from cancer, and 20% lower medical expenses when compared to all the other Japanese cities with a population over 100,000. Kakegawa also has a 30% lower rate of people suffering from the heart disease and cerebral infarctions when compared with other cities in Shizuoka prefecture.

It happens that Kakegawa is famous for the production of fukamushi-sencha and many people there drink a lot of it all day long. They also consume the tea sediment in the cup. This sediment is a result of the deep steaming process that fukamushi-sencha goes through. Consequently, the drinker not only benefits from the liquid but also from the nutrient-rich parts of the tea leaves.

An emerald, radiant cup of fukamushicha.

Tea producing areas in Japan also suffer from lower death rates from cancer. Additionally, most of them produce a “casual” grade of sencha. It is usually grown with a lot of sunshine in order to maximize production.

Sunshine produces more antioxidants in the form of catechins. The catechins impart a bitter taste and are less prevalent in premium teas such as gyokuro. Though we might not all enjoy the taste of bitter tea, it seems that our bodies appreciate it very much.

Kakegawa in Shizuoka Prefecture. (Source)

Lower rates of disease eventually lead to lower medical bills since the population avoids long term illnesses. People in Kakegawa drink many cups of fukamushi-sencha a day and they seem to be benefiting from it. The extra steaming causes more nutrients to be extracted.

Further, fukamushi-sencha produced in these areas contains more catechins because of how much time the leaves spend in the sun. More catechins means more tannins causing astringency and bitterness, but the deep (longer) steaming process can help to suppress these. Adding to this point, Shizuoka prefecture is not the only place producing fukamushi-sencha. Prefectures such as Kagoshima and Fukuoka are producing some beautiful fukamushi-sencha and we’re glad to feature them on our site.

Kagoshima Prefecture (Source)

These prefectures fall within the south-eastern part of Japan and experience different weather conditions than that of Shizuoka and you can taste the difference. Both places produce great teas in their own right, Shizuoka producing tea that is a bit more punchy than that of Kagoshima tea. Of course, there are so many variables when it comes to tea, it is definitely possible to find a tea from Kagoshima that is more bitter than Shizuoka tea. In a video that we did for our tiktok, we compared the differences between two different fukamushi-sencha (seen here).

We hope you have enjoyed this deep dive into the benefits of drinking fukamushi-sencha. We have different ones on our site and are expecting the 2024 crop of tea to come later this June if not July so we hope that you will check out our site for more information. You can also follow our instagram and subscribe to our newsletter by entering your email address in the designated box at the bottom of any page of our website.