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

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

Some of the trees in my neighborhood are looking downright skeletal now as the fall winds blow in chillier temps and winter creeps closer. All Hallow’s Eve marks a threshold into a darker time of year, a time when we focus inward and reach for warmth.

In this last installment of my Japanese tea series, I am reaching for warmth this morning in a cup of Japanese green tea called Sencha Tokujyo Ohashiri, a competition grade Sencha.

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.

Most Japanese green tea is processed to a half finished state called aracha. Aracha is kept stable in refrigerated, vacuum sealed bags until it is ready to be purchased by tea masters who will refine it and finish its processing.

I found this particular sencha leaf to be incredibly fine and it clogged the slits in my glass infuser basket. It’s probably best to steep the leaves directly in water and then strain as well as you can. The fine dust from the tea leaves settles to the bottom of my teamug.

The most well known Japanese green tea is Sencha which is harvested after Shincha, the first tea of the spring. With each subsequent harvest, the tea becomes stronger and darker with leaves of lesser quality and price.

The spring green liquor of this tea has a strong vegetal aroma which carries on into its flavor. A refreshing pungency cleanses my mouth with each sip.

The basic steps to creating aracha, or crude tea are: plucking, steaming plus 4 steps of rolling/drying/shaping. At the end of this processing, the moisture content of the leaf is approximately 13 percent.

Refining of the leaf brings it into the final stages of sorting, separating and drying which transforms the leaf and brings out the flavor, color and glossy finish. Now the finished leaf is called shiagecha. It is common practice for tea artisans to purchase aracha to refine it in their workshops.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my series on Japanese tea. I know that I really enjoyed exploring a type of tea in more depth and learning more about the country and history of the tea. I look forward to doing this again with another type of tea.

Ooooooooooo………Happy Halloween!

“A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises.  Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night.” ~J.M. Barrie

Saturday Morning Tea

JapaneseKuomiDry061309

Green, green, green. After a week of cool, rainy spring days, the world outside is resplendent in a cloak of velvety green shades.

Do you find that the weather influences your choice of tea? I do. Darker, more full-bodied teas when it’s chilly and lighter, more delicate teas for those warm, light filled days.

The green world is definitely affecting my choice of tea this morning, a Japanese Sencha called “Koumi”. Grown in the Uji region of Kyoto prefecture in Japan, its dark green, glossy leaves have been lightly steamed during processing to halt oxidation.

JapaneseKuomiSteep061309

In the mid 1300s, Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu promoted the cultivation and production of high quality green tea in Uji. The Tsuen Tea Shop, located by the Uji bridge, is reputed to be the oldest tea shop in all of Japan, with the first “Tsuen” serving tea to weary travelers in 1160.

TsuenTeaShop

I steeped the tea leaves for 2 1/2 minutes in 160 degree F water. It’s amazing how green the leaves are, especially after steeping.

JapaneseKuomiWet061309

The steeped liquor is a beautiful spring green with an aroma of freshly steamed asparagus.

JapaneseKuomiTeabowl061309

The flavor is delicate and smooth with light corn notes. I’ve read that one of the health benefits of green tea is the ability of the polyphenols to inhibit plaque and bacterial growth in your mouth. With its clean, refreshing taste and mouth feel, I can certainly believe that.

In contrast to last weekend, this weekend will be a lazy, hazy one spent puttering around the abode. Its time to take stock of all of the art projects I’ve got started and set some priorities for finishing them!

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world

where it was always June.

~L.M. Montgomery

Saturday Morning Tea

The weekend is showing promise of perfect mid-summer weather – nice and warm with lower humidity and sunny skies. Now that things are caught up from vacation both at work and at home, I’m looking forward to a couple of days with no responsibilities, filled with working on my art projects. I started my May journal page but set it aside for vacation. Now it’s time to turn my focus back to it and complete what I started. There are so many things that I would like to do and sometimes I get so overwhelmed with trying to balance it all, especially with a full-time day job. How do you find balance in your life?

Ok, time for my cup of tea. This morning I’m sipping a Japanese Sencha called Supersencha Kamakura. The dry leaf looks like grass clippings, flat, smooth and very green. Green tea has a long history in Japan, having been introduced in the 9th century by a Buddhist monk returning from his travels in China. You can read more about it here. The most well known type of Japanese green tea is Matcha, the powdered green tea used for the Tea Ceremony, Chanoyu (translation: hot water for tea). I had the honor of attending a tea ceremony last fall in Boston and I wrote about it here.

After the leaves are plucked, they are steamed to stop the oxidation and then rubbed and dried. The rubbing breaks down the cell walls and releases the volatile oils which gives the tea its wonderful flavor.

The liquor has an interesting yellow green color and sweet, vegetal aroma. Japanese green tea can be very vegetal tasting, moreso than Chinese green tea. This tea is quite vegetal but also sweet which smooths out the pungency. There is also a slight nutty note which lingers on my tongue. Years ago I received this tea bowl as a gift from a friend and it is perfect for my Japanese green tea. I imagine majestic mountains watching over the tea fields below.

Time for another cup. Have a glorious weekend!