Happy New Year! I have been wanting to do something like this for a while now, and thought the new year was a perfect time to do it. I am taking a (somewhat) deep dive into Japanese teas. I have only had Japanese teas a handful of times and green tea is not what I would call my favorite category of tea, but I wanted to stretch myself a little and see what I could learn. And as we know, tea is never short on things you can learn. I hope to come away with a new appreciation and respect for Japanese teas.
I’ve recently acquired a tokoname kyusu, which is a Japanese clay pot. I have purchased about 15 difference samples of sencha, three wakochas, a hojicha, three gyokuros, one Japanese white tea, and one tencha. As of this writing, I have never had a gyokuro at all so I am really looking forward to that one. To get through all of those teas without it taking a whole year, I will do something a little different and combine multiple teas into a single blog post. I still want to drink other teas and continue to experiment, so we will see how it goes.
For this first post, I am focusing on one tea and that is sencha from UNYtea. I have had this one a few times but I haven’t really tried to take tasting notes. It’s also the tea I used to break in my kyusu for the first time.
I used the brewing instructions on the package. It says 2-5 grams per 100ml and I used 3g this time. The water is 60C which is 140F. I have to say this is much lower water temperature than I have used on any other tea previously, so that’s something new already. I did 4 infusions of one minute each. The brewing parameters on Japanese greens can be quite different from Chinese greens, I am finding out. So there’s a lot to learn here.
I do love that bright yellow liquor. That is a thing of beauty!
The first two infusions were very similar. Keep in mind as I write this, I have very little experience with sencha and nothing to compare it to. This tea is very bright and it kind of punches you in the face but in a way that makes you happy. The texture is very thick and coating. The main flavor of this is what I call Japanese green tea. In other words, I don’t know how to describe the actual flavors here, but this is what sencha tastes like. Hopefully that will come with practice, but for now I am saying it’s vegetal and grassy. Those two don’t sound appetizing but this tea is quite tasty so I will work on that. There is a good bit of astringency here as well that I am not really used to tasting. There is a slight bitterness on the end but it’s short and it doesn’t take away from the experience.
Something very interesting happened with this tea on the third and fourth infusions. The bitterness and astringency were gone and it became sweet. It was like a different tea. The last two infusions were so very smooth. The punch to the face brightness had faded as well, but I liked this new sweet and smooth part of the tea too. I am interested to see if this happens to all the other senchas as well. Possibly a shorter infusion for the first two would bring out more sweetness? Something to try in the future.
So why am I writing a blog about something I know nothing about and can’t even describe to you properly? The point of this blog is to document the journey. I don’t know much and I am trying to learn and I hope to inspire someone just starting out on their own tea journey and feeling overwhelmed by all the information. There is so much information and knowledge to be had about tea, and some people have been doing it for a very long time and it can feel like you will never know anything. The great news is that everyone in this tea community is very welcoming, friendly, and helpful. Ask anyone and they will most likely gladly share their own knowledge with you. I have learned so much from other teaheads already, I am always amazed by our great community.
The price on this tea was $5.50 for 25 grams. I can tell you now that is a dang good price for this tea. But let’s do the math anyway, because math is fun! Take the middle of the recommended leaf amount which is 3.5 grams per session. That is 7 sessions per pouch. That comes to $.78 per session and 4 infusions per session is about $.20 per cup. $.20 a cup seems to be a sweet spot for good tea. Compare that to other tea, but also to other beverages. You just can’t get another good tasting and good for you drink for $.20 a cup. Tea is awesome.
If you want to know more about Japanese tea in general and how it is different from other tea, there are other people who can do that a lot better than I can. Search Japanese tea on youtube and you will find loads of helpful information.
I’m excited to learn more about Japanese tea in the coming weeks! Sayonara.