If you are familiar with Matcha, then you may know that the leaves that are used to make matcha are called Tencha. Tencha leaves are Japanese leaves that are steamed, dried, and cut into small pieces, which is the last phase of processing before being ground by millstones and turned into matcha. It is unusal to find tencha leaves for sale, especially in the west, as it is more lucrative for producers to turn it into matcha. When I saw that Harney and Sons had tencha for sale, I had to try it as my journey into Japanese tea continues.
I followed Harney’s brewing instructions which were to use 160 F water for 1 to 2 minutes. I used 3 grams of leaf for 100 ml of water in my tokoname clay kyusu for 1 minute, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 2:30.
When I placed the dry leaves into the warm kyusu, I got an aroma of steamed vegetables and rice, which was pleasant.
On the first infusion, I was immediately hit with what I am calling umami flavor. I have heard about umami and seen it described as a savory flavor. I have gotten this kind of flavor from Japanese green teas before, and they are known for having umami. I can best describe it as fried vegetables. It’s a green vegetable with oil and breading all at once, hence fried vegetable. I can’t pin down exactly which vegetable. It had a nice think texture and a very slight sweetness on the end. The finish was quite long.
The second infusion was quite a bit different. There was no more fried vegetable taste, but a steamed vegetable taste. The texture was still pretty thick and there was a little bit more sweetness. I decided to doube the steep time to 2 minutes for the third infusion.
The third infusion hit me straight away with a fruity taste. This tea is an interesting journey if nothing else. It wasn’t a really sweet fruit but it was fruity. It reminded of a dragonfruit. The subtle sweetness is still there on the end. It’s getting a bit thinner now. I extended the fourth steeping to 2:30.
The fourth infusion was sweeter than the other three and still had a fruity taste to it. It also had what I am calling a dish soap flavor, but not in a bad way. It was like the fruit they use to scent the dish soap but without tasting like soap at all. So it’s probably a citrus but it wasn’t tangy or tart at all. Again, very interesting.
This tea was very interesting. The tastes changed with each infusion which is unlike the other Japanese teas that I have had recently. It was also nothing like matcha. It’s crazy what grinding into fine particles can do to change the flavor. This was a fun session.
Harney claims this tea is from Uji in Japan which is the birthplace of matcha. I would assume the leaves are shade grown but they don’t say specifically.
The price on this is $40 for 2 oz. (56 grams). At 3 grams per session that is 18 sessions per tin which is $2.22 per session . 4 infusions per session comes to $.55 per cup. That is more expensive than I like to drink on a regular basis. Harney does however sell this in sample packs which are usually $3 or $4, which is what I bought. I would definitely recommend getting a sample when they have it in stock (out of stock at the time of this writing) just to experience the uniqueness of this tea.
I really enjoyed this tea session and I don’t have any complaints. It’s something a little bit different and I think it’s worth exploring. Cheers.