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Sencha (??) is a type of Japanese ryokucha (??, green tea) which is prepared by infusing the processed whole tea leaves in hot water. It is the most popular tea in Japan. This is as opposed to matcha (??), powdered Japanese green tea, where the green tea powder is mixed with hot water and therefore the leaf itself is included in the beverage. Among the types of Japanese green tea prepared by infusion, "sencha" is distinguished from such specific types as gyokuro and bancha. It is the most popular tea in Japan, representing about 80 percent of the tea produced in Japan. The flavour depends upon the season and place where it is produced, but shincha, or "new tea" from the first flush of the year, is considered the most delicious. Tea-picking in Japan begins in the south, gradually moving north with the spring warmth. During the winter, tea plants store nutrients, and the tender new leaves which sprout in the spring contain concentrated nutrients. Shincha represents these tender new leaves. The shincha season, depending upon the region of the plantation, is from early April to late May, specifically the 88th day after Setsubun which usually falls around February 4, a cross-quarter day traditionally considered the start of spring in Japan. Setsubun or Risshun is the beginning of the sexagenary cycle; therefore, by drinking sencha one can enjoy a year of good health.

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