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I embarked on my tea journey when I studied abroad in China in 2008 and traveled around Taiwan that summer. I'm here to share my experiences and offer my own opinion, advice, and comments on tea.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Japanese Tea Galore

I've been drinking nothing but Sencha (and one Kabusecha) for the past week and a half, ever since my order of organic tea came in from O-Cha. I remember when I first started drinking tea, I wasn't a big fan of green teas; the flavor was too subtle and grassy for me. I'm surprised how nuanced my taste preferences have changed. I think I'm really starting to enjoy Japanese tea, because of its simplicity and complexity.


It's simplistic, because they're all green tea. I know that there is bancha, genmaicha, some Japanese black tea, etc. but in terms of the type of tea, there aren't as many varieties as Chinese teas. However, at the same time, it's complex because there are nuanced differences between regions, processing, season, etc. I think Japanese teas have complexities in their flavor profile that I can't really find in Chinese greens.

I'm also liking the fact I have so much new information to learn, and it's really helping my brewing technique. Most of the teas I drink are Oolong, so I don't really care about temperature. But for Japanese greens though, temperature matters, and I'm beginning to be more methodical about my brewing. I'm even heating up the kyusu now, which is something I didn't do with Gaiwan or Yixing too often.

It's still frustrating though. I still haven't gotten the leaf amount right, and it's a little harder because I'm sampling organic teas. I started off with 5-6 grams for my 300 ml kyusu, but when I upped it to 10 grams, it seemed a little too bitter. I'm trying 8 grams now, and hopefully it'll turn out better. I had hoped to do a proper review of my teas by now, but it'll have to wait until I'm satisfied with my brewing technique.

Two other things I thought I'd throw out there. When I first bought my kyusu I kept on the plastic protector cover, but after reading a thread on TeaChat about it, I decided to take it off. I like the aesthetic quality of my Tokoname without. Hopefully I won't regret it. I also gave into the Matcha devil. I bought a nice Chawan off Rikyu, and all the accessories and Matcha off of Yuuki-Cha. I can't wait, and I'm praying that somehow everything gets here by Monday.

Experminting with B&W. I like how austere it looks.

Note: Ah, I forgot to mention a small "Tea Experiment" I had today. Inspired by a thread on TeaChat I decided to make Genmaicha out of the crappy Sencha I got from a local tea store (it's actually a decent everyday Sencha but it's nothing compared to what I'm drinking now). I wish I had taken pictures, but it was a spur of a moment thing...next time, next time.

I poured out some brown rice into my wok and cranked up the heat. Almost immediately, a nutty burnt smell emananted through the house. My sister, whose room is all the way in the back, even asked what the smell was. I was surprised by how fast the brown rice toasted. I think it took three to five minutes. I had thought I had too much toasted rice for my Sencha, but I realized that the dry leaf would expand, so I'll remember to toast even more brown rice. Apparantly you can pan-fry Japanese tea to make hojicha (right?) so I might try that next. Another thing I like about Japanese greens: how you can use them even if they've gone stale. I mean, what can you do about a Chinese green that's gone stale? Sure, you can re-roast your Oolong, but you can't completely change it into something else, can you?

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