So this is the other tea that I picked and processed on my tea trip, the Mississippi Queen. I have to say this tea is quite unlike any other green tea I have had. I guess being grown in Mississippi has a lot to do with it. This is a rolled and steamed green tea, and since that is the same way that Korean Sejak tea is made, I decided to do a side by side tasting session. But first, I want to tell you about the Queen.
The dry leaf has a bit of a sweetness smell to it, but also the vegetal aroma you can get from steamed greens. The description from The Cultured Cup, where this tea is sold: Hand-plucked, this tea has savory notes of edamame, spring peas, and fried okra, and is available exclusively through The Cultured Cup.
I brewed both of these teas the exact same. Gongfu style using 4 grams per 100ml of water at 180F with first steep for 15 seconds and an additional 3 for each infusion after that.
I noted a bit of sweetness, with a grassy and somewhat vegetal taste, but also with some floral notes. It was very aromatic and light, with a hit of umami vegetal flavor at the end. It was very pleasant. By the 5th infusion, I could really taste the fried okra. I can’t say I’ve ever had a tea that tasted like fried anything, so this was interesting but I also enjoyed it.
I really like this tea and I will definitely be going back to drink more of it and often.
Now, why did I compare a tea grown in Mississippi to a tea grown in South Korea? It’s because they are processed in a similar way. They are both steamed and they are both rolled. Japanese teas are steamed but they usually are not rolled. Chinese teas are rolled but they aren’t steamed, instead they are fired in a wok. Green teas must be heated to prevent oxidation, and thus keep them as green teas. So, I thought I would see what difference the terroir made between two teas processed similarly but grown a world apart from each other.
for the first infusion, I noted the sweet grassy, floral and vegetal notes of the Mississippi Queen as noted above. For the Sejak, which I have also done a post about, I noted salty marine air notes, with some vegetal notes, but the main difference was this tea had a big punch of umami right in your face. The MQ was light and aromatic and delicate and the Sejak was strong green umami. The difference is striking.
I hate to admit but for the 3rd and 4th infusions, where the liquor is a brighter yellow color, the Sejak was overbrewed. And even more sadly, this was the last of my Sejak that I had on hand, which I was saving for this post. The glass pot has too small of an opening on the lid, and the tea wouldn’t come out fast enough. I corrected it by the 4th and final infusion, though so all is not lost. The 3rd and 4th were very bitter and not pleasant at all, but that’s my fault.
I let my wife try both of these on the 4th infusion and she picked the Sejak as the winner. I however, have to give the nod to the Queen. This tea is so unique and fragrant and the taste was very good.
The Queen still had more to give after 4 infusions, but I’m not so sure about the Sejak. It should be noted that the Queen is hand picked, as I can attest because I picked them myself. I don’t know about the Sejak, but it looks like it was machine picked as evidenced by all the broken leaves. Broken leaves will also turn bitter faster than whole leaves.
The price on these are quite different as well. The Queen is $9.00 per oz. where the Sejak is $3.00 per oz. I am not surprised that the Sejak is cheaper but I am surprised that it is three times less. I will say the Queen is a better quality tea and it can be brewed more times than the Sejak and I believe it is a better tea. But take price into consideration as always.
So, which one should you get? Both, really. They are quite different from each other, and both are worth drinking. If you like aromatic tea, go for the Queen. If you like a big burst of umami, go for the Sejak. Or, if you like all of it like me, go for both. Cheers!