Sencha vs Kukicha

sencha vs kukicha
Difference engine, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While these two types of Japanese green tea have a different appearance, their other attributes are somewhat similar.

Green tea production inevitably results in a considerable amount of excess stems.

First we have aracha, the crude tea. After refining, we are left with many parts that are filtered out in the process.

So kukicha is basically a way to avoid wasting this byproduct.

Sencha has few stems, while kukicha has a lot of stems.

Differences in flavor and aroma

In general, kukicha has a characteristic sweetness in its taste and aroma, while sencha has a flavor that is more intense.

The stems are naturally sweet as long as they are young (green) as opposed to wooden stems which are of lower quality because they have almost no flavor.

Tea leaves hold more flavor than tea stems, which also means that there will be more flavor in each infusion, or a higher number of possible infusions.

It’s better if a sencha has no stems, and a kukicha that includes high quality tea leaves is also desirable.

Differences in quality

All things being equal, a sencha is of higher quality than its equivalent kukicha. This is reflected on the price as well.


But that assumes that we have the same origin, same cultivar, same time of harvest, etc.

You can have a very high quality kukicha made with stems of gyokuro, and a very low quality sencha, for example.

Hence, quality has to be judged on an individual basis.

Which one should you choose?

I personally drink more sencha, but kukicha is nice to have every now and then.

It’s very difficult to find a single cultivar kukicha from cultivars other than Yabukita.

And as you now, I’m a big fan of single cultivar tea.

One benefit of kukicha is that you can enjoy a good tea at a slightly lower price than a sencha of the same quality.

My advice it to drink whatever tea you like best.


  1. Sharon
    January 12, 2023

    First hope you had a good vacation we all deserve one once in a while.
    Thank you for all your information about all the different types of teas other wise I wouldn’t the difference to look for. I enjoy receiving your emails about the teas. Keep up the good work


    1. Ricardo Caicedo
      January 12, 2023

      Hi Sharon

      Thank you for your kind response.

      I hope that you enjoy your tea discovering journey.

  2. Jan
    January 28, 2023

    what’s your go to sencha? looking for new tea to try!

    1. Ricardo Caicedo
      January 29, 2023

      Hi Jan

      I don’t have a single sencha that I always drink. One reason is that I tend to receive many samples for review, and the other is that I have a great interest in sencha from cultivars that I haven’t tasted yet.

      But I do drink sencha daily. In general, I like sencha that is marine, fresh, with a lot of umami taste.

      A few months from now it will be shincha season (first harvest sencha). I highly recommend that you try it, in case that you haven’t done so already.


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