Japanese Green Tea: Sen-Cha

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Green Tea
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170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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  • “This is a great everyday, anytime tea. Because of the enormous volume of tea I consume each day, I bought the 100 teabag pack about a month ago, and I’ve already consumed nearly a third of the...” Read full tasting note

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1 Tasting Note

4 tasting notes

This is a great everyday, anytime tea. Because of the enormous volume of tea I consume each day, I bought the 100 teabag pack about a month ago, and I’ve already consumed nearly a third of the amount. (Yes, this is a bagged tea; the teabags are typical—not silk, or pyramidal, or round, or anything too exotic.) The bags produce surprising quality for a bagged tea, and furthermore hold up to double-brewings of reasonable quality if time is carefully observed. Due to the price and convenience of a teabag—no infusion canister to clean out between pots—as well the general quality of the tea, this has become a staple generic green for me. (It comes in especially handy when I’m busy, and I don’t have the time or luxury to go through all the ceremony of preparing a more expensive loose-leaf tea in a respectful manner, yet wish to enjoy the indulgent flavors of tea nonetheless.)

Opening a teabag (I disassembled one for the purposes of this note) reveals roughly a half teaspoon of pekoe grade leaves with some dust. The dust is a bright matcha green, and the leaf pieces are a dusty grass-green—the less dusty ones have a satin sheen in the sunlight. The texture of the leaves is smooth and oily-feeling between the fingers, and the chlorophyll stains the fingertips slightly; the overall sensation is one of uniformity and smoothness—the leaves do not feel dry or brittle. The dust has a texture not unlike the texture of cornstarch.

The aroma of the dry leaves is surprisingly strong for the quantity, and reminds me of sweet, fresh-cut grass with some nuttiness and a hint of vegetal. From the aroma, I can identify the component that will become a gently vegetal bitterness in the aftertaste of the brew, when the leaves are brewed.

The brew liquor is transparent in the pour and translucent in the bowl, with a gentle, cloudy yellow-green tint. A very beautifully colored liquor, especially against white porcelain. However, the cloudiness of the brew allows the color to present even in a black mug, which I found surprising.

The brew aroma is simple and straightforward, but strong and pleasant. The vegetal aromas develop more fully, and the sweetness gives way to a buttery aroma. Some aspects of the aroma I can only liken to the aroma of undressed spring-mix greens. The most notable smell is the vegetal quality, however, which has an uncharacteristic lack of bitterness and sourness that I usually associate with a vegetal flavor-notes.

The flavor of the brew is vegetal and clean, from beginning to end, with some sweetness. There is some nuttiness and a hint of bitter at the beginning, but these notes quickly submit to a robust and long-tasting vegetal flavor profile—again, with no sourness or bitterness, but a slight touch of butteriness and a gentle sweetness. The aftertaste is fresh and long-lasting, and takes on some slight nuttiness while being predominately sweet. There is the slightest hint of bitterness at the very end—as I was expecting from the aroma—but the overall aftertaste is very “clean.” This brew also has a strange characteristic of being stronger in flavor than in aroma in my sample, although the general presentation of the bouquet is not in any way lacking.

In my opinion, this is a tea that can be enjoyed anytime, but especially midday, and with savory foods. It has the robust nature and unique flavor profile required to stand up in a complimentary way to even heavily seasoned, spiced, and cheese dishes. I could see this tea pairing well with spicy Mexican food, such as enchiladas, chipotle, salsas, mole, as well as sharp cheeses. Chile, citrus, and meaty flavors should be fine. This tea would also compliment rich courses that have strong vegetable, butter, or cream flavors, as well as being a good pairing with clam chowder. This tea might overpower some delicately flavored fish, but (in general) I don’t think it would be a terrible pairing. I am unsure of how the flavors would complement strong moldy flavors, such as Gorgonzola, walnuts, unsweetened chocolate and the like; I think it would be worth the experimentation. I would avoid serving this tea with sweets and breakfast fare, as well as most dishes with delicate flavor, since the predominant flavors are vegetal and can be overpowering.

A word of caution: under-brewing will overdevelop the vegetal profile, and the nutty, buttery flavors will not present properly. If the brew is only slightly over-brewed, the tea won’t be ruined, but the flavors will shift significantly toward nutty and buttery, and some of the vegetal and sweetness will diminish, and the brew will be less “clean” on the palette, aftertastes will be a little pithier. If the leaves are brewed a second time, I have found that there isn’t much to loose in stewing the leaves.

170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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