Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! This morning I am pleased to present to you a Japanese green tea that was harvested this year. I’m so glad to see the producers able to sell their tea confidently again after the terrible disaster that gripped their nation in March 2011. This tea is called 88th Night Shincha.

Shincha translates literally to “new tea”. It is the first flush in the springtime. This particular tea was harvested on the 88th day after the spring equinox, which I’ve read is February 4th in Japan. I’ve also read that it’s a traditional saying in Japan that if you drink of the leaves of the 88th day tea, you will enjoy a year of good health. Wonderful news as my allergies are really acting up this week!

If you’d like to read more about tea production in Japan, you can go back to my posts here and here. In October 2010, I spent a whole month exploring Japanese teas.

I steeped the leaves for 2 minutes in 170F water. I find that Japanese green teas are very sensitive to the temperature of the water. Do you? As you can see, the dry leaf looks like grass clipping while the wet leaf reminds me of steamed spinach. Speaking of steaming, this tea was lightly steamed in the first step of production. The steaming halts the oxidation process so the tea remains green.

The tea liquor is the most amazing spring green color. I don’t think my camera fully portrayed the loveliness of the color. A strong vegetal, seagrass aroma drifted from my glass teapot as I poured my first cup.

My first sip filled my mouth with sweetness and an incredibly pronounced vegetal taste of the sea. As I sipped, I detected a light floral quality underneath all of that vegetalness. I enjoyed this tea much better when it cooled.

As I prepared my tea this morning, a cool breeze gusted in the window. We had some rain move in overnight which also swept in some cooler temperatures. Fall is definitely at our doorstep here in New England.

As always, thanks for sharing a cuppa with me!

“There is this mysterious energy that wants us to keep growing.”

~Michelle Cassou, Artist

Saturday Morning Tea

This morning I felt like having something fresh and clear and green so I turned to a spring harvest Japanese Sencha called Uji Shincha.  The word “shincha” literally translates to “new tea”, referring to the harvest of only tender young spring shoots to produce this wonderful tea.

The dry leaf reminds me of dark, glossy grass clippings. It gives off a fresh, sweet aroma as I open the sample packet in preparation to make the tea.

For steeping this very special leaf, I used my Yokode Kyusu, commonly known as a Sencha teapot, with the handle being on the side of the teapot. The Japanese word for teapot is kyusu.

As the leaf is very tender, I steeped it for only 40 seconds in 175 degree F water.

There is a fine mesh screen on the inside of the spout so I could steep the leaves directly in the water.

The aroma is fresh and vegetal like new asparagus shoots. The spring green liquor tastes quite vegetal with an interesting bittersweet quality that is best described as umami. The best word to describe umami is savory.

This tea really wakes up my tongue with its intensely fresh, savory flavor.

I’ve so enjoyed my time off this past week, spending a lot of it trying out some new jewelry ideas in my studio. I’ve also been working on finishing the painting in my guest bedroom by finally tackling the molding in there. I’m pleased to say that it’s almost done! I have a household to-do list tacked to my fridge and have slowly but surely been crossing things off as my time and budget allows. Do you have one of those lists?

Enjoy this beautiful weekend, dear tea friends!

“Take control of your destiny. Believe in yourself. Ignore those who try to discourage you. Avoid negative sources, people, places, things and habits. Don’t give up and don’t give in.”

~Wanda Carter, writer