Saturday Morning Tea

jaoanesegyokuroteapot111216

Good morning, dear tea friends! It may be autumn outside, with dried up leaves rattling against my house like old bones, but inside I have springtime in my cup. My morning cuppa is a beautiful selection from Japan, called Organic Gyokuro.

Produced in the spring from the first plucking of the tea bush, Gyokuro is one of Japan’s most treasured teas.

japanesegyokurodryleaf111216

What distinguishes a Gyokuro tea from other Japanese green teas is that as soon as the bushes start to flush with new growth, they are shaded. The first shading method, called tana, is when a black netting is thrown over trellises that have been built up around the rows of tea bushes. The second method, called jikagise, is when each bush is individually wrapped in cloth.

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The bushes will grow in the shade for approximately 3 weeks.  The shading increases the chlorophyll production which in turn affects the balance of caffeine, flavanols and sugar in the leaf.  The absence of photosynthesis also increases the theanine component in the leaf.  Theanine is an amino acid that gives tea its vegetal taste.  With the increase of theanine, Gyokuro tea is quite vegetal.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in just under 180F water.

The dry leaves have a fresh, nutty aroma, however, when submerged in water, the leaves impart a sweet, vegetal fragrance.

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The infusion is the color of light yellow jade, sparkling in the sunlight streaming through my windows. The cup is rich and brothy with a strong umami flavor, complemented by a smooth sweetness. Truly a Japanese tea lover’s delight!

Enjoy your weekend and your tea!

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”

~Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

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Saturday Morning Tea

Saemidori Sencha Dry Leaf 08-09-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! It’s great to be back and share a cup of tea with you. My vacation to Michigan was restful and restorative, very welcome after the challenging times of this past spring. As I gaze out my window, I see the lush green world of high summer. Rich, ripe vegetables are being harvested.  Flower gardens are vibrant with hot color. My morning tea reflects this colorful time of year with its own bright green color. A spring harvested first flush Sencha from Kagoshima prefecture in Japan, it’s called Sencha Saemidori Superior.

Saemidori refers to the specific cultivar (tea plant variety) this tea comes from. Developed and created in the 1960s from two other cultivars, it gained recognition in 1990 when it was added to the official Japanese tea cultivar list.

Saemidori Sencha Steep 08-09-14

When this tea was processed, it was deep steamed to stop the oxidation of the leaf and keep it green. That deep steaming helps the leaf to retain an intense green color, a dark lustrous green dry leaf and a rich kelly green wet leaf.

I steeped the leaf for 3 minutes in 175F water in my new glass teapot.

Saemidori Sencha Wet Leaf 08-09-14

The wet leaf smells like freshly steamed spinach.

Saemidori Sencha Teapot 08-09-14

While this tea has a beautiful leaf, what I think is most distinctive about it is its intense spring green tea liquor. My photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s even greener than that. Some customers ask for a green tea that is a true green color when steeped. Most green teas steep up more of a yellow or brown color than green. The deep steaming helps to retain a true green color in the liquor, too. What do you think?

The aroma in my cup is of fresh steamed vegetables, like broccoli, and sweet seagrass.

Saemidori Sencha Tea Mug 08-09-14

The flavor is fresh and sweet and smooth as silk with only a hint of tang that doesn’t linger. The notes of vegetables and seagrass are there but much more subtle than the notes in its aroma. As I drink this tea, my body feels lighter and more alive as if its “greenness” is permeating every cell. For those of you looking for a green tea for health, this is a great selection, I think.

Thanks for stopping by to share a cuppa with me. Have a great tea-filled couple of weeks!

I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer. My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music. It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.

~Violette Leduc, Mad in Pursuit

 

 

Saturday Morning Tea

Japanese Oolong Dry Leaf 02-01-14

Good morning, dear tea friends! The sun is throwing watery light through my windows as I brew up my morning tea today. I’ve chosen an unusual selection, one I’ve never tried before – an organic Japanese Oolong tea. I haven’t been able to find out much about this tea beyond the fact that it’s rare and only produced in limited quantity by a few Japanese organic tea growers. I love trying a new tea so let’s get started!

Japanese Oolong Steep 02-01-14

The leaf is quite large and looks like it’s been pan fried instead of steamed like Japanese green teas, to halt oxidation. Pan frying is common with Oolong teas. I steeped the leaves for 3 1/2 minutes in 190F water. Because the leaves aren’t fully oxidized like a black tea, it’s always a good idea to steep Oolong teas with water below the boiling point. When the water is too hot, the leaves stew and don’t steep properly, giving you a resulting brew that has a bitter note and doesn’t represent the true flavor of the tea at all.

Japanese Oolong Wet Leaf 02-01-14

Wow, look at this large intact leaf. The leaves unfolded their accordion-like pleating as they steeped.

A warm, toasty aroma wafted up from my glass teapot as  I lifted up the infuser. I could also detect a nutty fragrance, like chestnuts.

Japanese Oolong Teapot 02-01-14

The light amber tea liquor is quite smooth with a pronounced chestnut flavor note and toasty nuances. As I sipped my tea, light fruity nuances revealed themselves in the cup.

This is a great choice for someone who would like to expand out from their Japanese green tea drinking to explore another type of tea from that country. I heartily recommend trying something new!

Japanese Oolong Teabowl 02-01-14

Well, so far things are working out well with my laptop and the Adobe Elements software. I’m still working on the trial and, after using Photoshop for years, this feels very familiar to me. Familiar is good when I’m trying to fit everything in to my weekend!

Have any of you recently tried a tea for the first time? I’d love to hear your story. Until next time, enjoy your tea!

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

~Walt Disney

Saturday Morning Tea

SpringHarvestSenchaDry01191

Good morning, dear tea friends! As the wind howls outside my windows, I dream of spring and those thoughts have led me to my morning tea – a Japanese green tea called Spring Harvest Sencha. This tea is a rare treat as a tea of this high grade is usually not exported outside of Japan.

SpringHarvestSenchaSteep011

As the name suggests, it is a spring harvest, like a first flush Darjeeling. The most well known Japanese green tea is Sencha, which is harvested after Shincha, the very first tea of the spring. With each subsequent harvest, the tea becomes stronger and darker with leaves of lesser quality and price. The exceptional quality of this tea shows that it was an earlier harvest.

SpringHarvestSenchaWet01191

Japanese teas are recognizable by their grassy, needle-like shape. The shape is attained by sending the leaf through a series of rolling machines. Paddles move the tea back and forth over metal ridges while heat is applied so the leaf is slowly formed into its needle shape.

I steeped the leaf for 2 minutes in 175 degree F water. Some Japanese tea lovers will use a lower temp and steeping time when preparing their tea. I have found that this works best for my taste.

SpringHarvestSenchaTeapot01

The tea liquor is a pale spring green with a delicate vegetal aroma. The flavor is quite sweet and light with only a whisper of a vegetal note. I usually find Japanese green teas to be much more vegetal tasting than this tea is.

SpringHarvestSenchaTeamug01

This tea allows me to show off my new Cherry Blossom mug, a wonderful birthday gift from my lovely daughter. It came with a ceramic infuser basket but I don’t really see myself using that basket as the holes are much too large.

I’ve been fighting off a virus this week, which has left me feeling tired and washed out. I feel refreshed and rejuvenated after several cups of this wonderful tea.

As always, thanks for stopping by and sharing a cuppa with me!

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

~Anne Bradstreet

Saturday Morning Tea

Iccha Kariban Dry Leaf 10-19-13

Good morning, dear tea friends! Another week has come and gone and we’re savoring some glorious fall weather here in New England. This morning’s tea is a Japanese green tea called Iccha Kariban. Its name loosely translates to “flower fragrance”.

Iccha Kariban Steep 10-19-13

Grown in the Kagoshima prefecture, located on the southwest tip of the island of Kyushu in Japan, this tea is the result of experimenting with select cultivars to create a unique batch of tea. It has been likened to a Taiwanese Pouchong.

Iccha Kariban Wet Leaf 10-19-13

I steeped the leaf for 3 minutes in 175F water. The wet leaf looks like steamed greens, which I have found is unique to Japanese greens.

A gentle floral fragrance drifted up from my glass teapot as I poured my first cup.

Iccha Kariban Teapot 10-19-13

The cup is smooth and light with flavor very much like a floral Pouchong or a lightly oxidized Oolong, like a Jade or Spring Dragon. That said, its flavor is much more vegetal with a little brothiness, distinguishing it as a Japanese green tea.

Iccha Kariban Teamug 10-19-13

I talk to many folks who would like to try a green tea for its health benefits, however, they’re not a fan of its vegetal, grassy taste. This would be a great tea to try as the pronounced floral quality places the vegetal taste more in the background than being one of the primary flavor notes.

I think the Tea Masters have done a lovely job of coming up with a unique Japanese green tea! Have a wonderful week.

“Human life is inherently creative. It’s why we all have different résumés. … It’s why human culture is so interesting and diverse and dynamic.”

~Ken Robinson

Saturday Morning Tea

SpringHarvestSenchaDry01191

Good morning, dear tea friends! As the wind howls outside my windows, I dream of spring and those thoughts have led me to my morning tea – a Japanese green tea called Spring Harvest Sencha. This tea is a rare treat as a tea of this high grade is usually not exported outside of Japan.

SpringHarvestSenchaSteep011

As the name suggests, it is a spring harvest, like a first flush Darjeeling. The most well known Japanese green tea is Sencha, which is harvested after Shincha, the very first tea of the spring. With each subsequent harvest, the tea becomes stronger and darker with leaves of lesser quality and price. The exceptional quality of this tea shows that it was an earlier harvest.

SpringHarvestSenchaWet01191

Japanese teas are recognizable by their grassy, needle-like shape. The shape is attained by sending the leaf through a series of rolling machines. Paddles move the tea back and forth over metal ridges while heat is applied so the leaf is slowly formed into its needle shape.

I steeped the leaf for 2 minutes in 175 degree F water. Some Japanese tea lovers will use a lower temp and steeping time when preparing their tea. I have found that this works best for my taste.

SpringHarvestSenchaTeapot01

The tea liquor is a pale spring green with a delicate vegetal aroma. The flavor is quite sweet and light with only a whisper of a vegetal note. I usually find Japanese green teas to be much more vegetal tasting than this tea is.

SpringHarvestSenchaTeamug01

This tea allows me to show off my new Cherry Blossom mug, a wonderful birthday gift from my lovely daughter. It came with a ceramic infuser basket but I don’t really see myself using that basket as the holes are much too large.

I’ve been fighting off a virus this week, which has left me feeling tired and washed out. I feel refreshed and rejuvenated after several cups of this wonderful tea.

As always, thanks for stopping by and sharing a cuppa with me!

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

~Anne Bradstreet

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! Are you wondering where the tea leaves are today? Well, this morning’s tea is a unique beverage greatly enjoyed in Japan, called Ku-Ki Ho-Ji Cha, which translates to roasted twig tea.

The stems, stalks and twigs from the Camellia Sinensis plant are used for this beverage. Usually, they are unoxidized and green with small bits of green leaf mixed in. In this particular version, the “Ho-Ji” part refers to roasting, like Ho-Ji Cha tea, which is roasted bancha tea, a common green tea that has been roasted. So, these twigs have been roasted, giving them a toasty flavor.

I steeped the twigs for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. The steeping tea filled my kitchen with a warm, toasty aroma.

Most Japanese green teas are steamed. I have read that Ho-Ji Cha tea is roasted over charcoal at a very high heat.

The whisky-colored liquor is creamy smooth and woody/toasty with nutty notes. Because most of the caffeine in the tea plant is located in the leaf, especially the new growth, the twigs contain a negligible amount so this tea is very low in caffeine.

I’ve read that this tea is one of the beverages recommended in a macrobiotic diet, an eating lifestyle that concentrates on natural grains and vegetables, avoiding highly refined foods.

There’s something about the flavor of this tea that reminds me of coffee, maybe even chicory. Perhaps it’s the toastiness that fills my mouth with each sip. Please keep in mind though that I’m not a coffee drinker at all. I much prefer its wonderful aroma to the jittery feeling I get when I drink it.

It’s a beautiful, sunny day outside today so I’m going to take the opportunity to do some cleanup in the garden and mulch the perennials for their winter rest.

As we approach our Thanksgiving holiday, I want to thank all of you, dear readers, for your visits to my little corner of the blogoshere.  They mean so much to me. Happy Thanksgiving!

“To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do.” ~Victor Hugo