Hey dear readers, I am back from an extended break for tax season where my day job also became my night job and took away my energy for blogging. I have missed writing about tea and I am happy to be back in the saddle so to speak.
I recently ordered some Mississippi Green tea called Mississippi Queen from the Great Mississippi Tea Company (Mississippi is fun to type and say isn’t it?) The instructions on the bag are for Western style brewing only. Since this is a relatively new and unexplored tea, I decided to try it three different ways. I brewed it Western style, traditional gong fu in a ceramic gaiwan, and Japanese style in a clay shiboridashi. This tea is steamed like Japanese green teas tend to be so I thought why not try it Japanese style?
I used a ratio of 4 grams per 100ml for both the Japanese style and the gong fu style. I used 2 grams per 100ml for the western style.
- Japanese: 160F for 1 minute, 1:20, 1:40, 2:00
- Gong Fu: 175F for 15 seconds, 20, 25, 30 seconds
- Western: 175F for 4 minutes, 5 minutes
Let me start off by saying I think this is a good quality tea that doesn’t get the attention it deserves, maybe just because it’s grown in America at low altitude and goes against all conventional wisdom about tea growing conditions.
Now that’s out of the way. The first steep really surprised me and the hits just kept on coming. The Japanese style tea was a umami explosion! I’m not exaggerating when I say it reminded me of Gyokuro brewed at room temperature for 14 minutes. Not quite that much umami, but probably second to it. It was very smooth and thick and almost broth like in texture, and of course oily.
The Gong fu was much softer, had a bit of umami but not nearly as much as the shibo. It was a nice and easy drinking green tea without a lot of boldness to it. Decent start for gong fu.
The western brew was quite strong and in your face, as you could probably guess from the color of the liquor above. It had a good bit of umami but it also had some astringency and a bit of bitterness. It wasn’t too much to make it unenjoyable, but it was my least favorite of the three.
For the second infusions, the Japanese style had the same umami broth but there was a bit of sweetness to it and a bit if a vegetal note. The gong fu really started to shine in the second steep. It was… floral, also vegetal, and noticeably better than the first steep. I gave the western brew a chance with a 5 minute steep, but as you can imagine, after 4 minutes it was done for. There was nothing of note to say about the second steep. The western brew taps out after one infusion I am afraid.
The third steep got even more interesting. On the Japanese I picked up a strong note of minerality, also a slight floral and vegetal and it was still oily but not as strong as the first two steeps. The Gong fu had a very strong floral flavor in the third steep. This tea just keeps on changing and I am just enjoying the ride.
I did a fourth infusion because I really wanted to see where these would go. The Japanese was very sweet with floral notes but the flavor was weaker and this was likely the end of the line. The umami was also gone by this one. The Gong fu had a floral note but it was also weaker. It looks like four steeps is what you get from this one.
So what’s the price on this one?
- $12 for 1 oz. (28g)
- Western brewed for 1 infusion is $.86 per cup
- Japanese and Gong fu brewed are $.27 per cup
Not only are the Japanese and Gong fu methods 31% of the price, they taste much better too. I just can’t recommend western brewing a green tea.
The Japanese style really surprised in me how much umami was brought out of this tea. The Gong fu started slow but really shined in the second and third steeps. Both versions kept revealing new flavors through the infusions and it was a really interesting experiment.
Which one was my favorite? I have to give a slight edge to the shiboridashi. I’m a sucker for that umami. You can’t go wrong with classic Gong fu either though. I say whatever you prefer, it will probably be good. Cheers!