Two Senchas from Harney

I am continuing my dive into Japanese teas, this time with two Senchas from Harney and Sons. They are Mist of Kawane and Matsuda’s Sencha. I remember reading that John Harney would start everyday with a pot of sencha, so I had high hopes for these teas.

I brewed these one at a time starting with the Mist of Kawane. Harney describes Mist of Kawane as follows: “Kawane is on the way up to the Japanese Alps. This region is where one our most popular Sencha comes from: Scent of Mountains. The elevation makes the difference. Mist is destined to be as popular.”

I believe this to be my first high elevation sencha. Harney doesn’t say the level of steaming or the date of picking. They only list brewing parameters for western style brewing, but I prefer whatever you call the Japanese equivalent to gong fu brewing. I used 3 grams per 100 ml of water in a tokoname kyusu. I had to play around with brewing temps and times, as sencha bewing parameters can be all over the place. I adjusted each infusion based on how the previous one went. Needless to say, this is in no way a how to post, but a what I learned and probably got wrong post. But hey that’s all part of the journey.

I’ll start by saying this wasn’t my favorite tea. I did 170 F water for 30 seconds first. I may have just brewed it wrong, which is highly possible, but I didn’t love it. The first thing I tasted was a vegetal note. The texture was not very thick and it didn’t have that brightness that I have had with other sencha. the finish was rather short as well. And it had a good bit of astringency. It felt lacking.

On the second infusion, I dropped the water to 160 and brewed it for 45 seconds. I was immediately hit with bitterness, but there was a vegetal note and a hit of umami flavor. The texture was thicker. I may have poured too little water in this one. My kyusu holds 360 ml and I try to estimate 100 ml without measuring. I am usually pretty spot on, but occasionally miss it. This may have been one of those times.

For the third, I used 150 F water for 45 seconds and this was much better than the second. There was no bitterness, the texture was thinner and the flavor not very strong. It also had a short finish. For the fourth, it was done for and you can see how much lighter it was. I used 140F water for 60 seconds and it was not good.

I didn’t love this one. It wasn’t for me but that doesn’t make it a bad tea. I may have butchered the brewing parameters too. The price for this one is $27.00 for 4 oz. (113 grams). 3 grams per session is 37 sessions in a tin. That’s $.73 per session and at 3 cups per session that is $.24 per cup. I don’t this it’s worth that but that’s my preference. I don’t feel like I can be much of a quality judge on Japanese tea at this point.

On to the Matsuda’s Sencha.

I could tell right away that this tea was a higher quality tea. The leaves were larger and more whole, and the aroma was much nicer. I decided to brew this the same way as the Mist to get some kind of comparison value. The first infusion was 170F for 30 seconds. I also used 3 grams of leaf in a tokoname kyusu. The second infusionwas 160F water for 45 seconds.

Harney describes Matsuda’s Senchas as follows: “It has been an honor to be the sole source for the great Japanese Sencha. The life’s work of a great tea man and his family, this Sencha has great body and flavor. Mike has visited Matsuda and his family several times. Their house is located halfway up a hill that is covered with tea bushes, and looking out over the valley, that is all one sees. The family’s abode has been all business for generations. They have a space to make the tea in the back, with steamers to fix the green tea and rollers. This tradition and dedication serves us well, because it is a unique Sencha with a distinctive aroma, great body, and flavors that are hard to forget.”

On the first infusion, I was immediately hit with that sencha brightness that I have grown fond of. The texture was very thick and it had a long sweet finish. Flavors were vegetal but with some sweetness. It was pretty good. Second infusion had a bite of bitterness to it, but it was still thick and vegetal with a long finish.

The third infusion was sweet and bright with a vegetal note and medium to thick body and it still had a long finish. The fourth infusion had a weaker flavor but was still sweet. This tea also had a good bit of astringency throughout the entire session.

I enjoyed this tea a lot more than the Mist of Kawane. It felt like a higher quality tea and it sounds like it is as well based on the descriptions.

The price on this one is $45.00 for 4 oz (113 grams), which is 66% more expensive than the Mist of Kawane. 37 sessions in a tin is $1.22 per session. 3 cups per session is $.41 per cup. This tea was pretty good but I can’t recommend it at that price. I personally enjoyed the UNYtea sencha more and it was about $.20 per cup.

I will give both of these teas another chance with some different brewing parameters, because I have enough left to do another session and I know I can get some different results. Might try porcelain and see how that turns out.

The dive into Japan goes deeper. Stay tuned. Cheers.

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