Sunday, June 16, 2013
I'm very familiar with gyokuro. Grew up with that as the only green tea drunk in the household. Oddly the family isn't fond of matcha. So while I was trained in that art of making matcha for a koicha or an usucha, it wasn't often drunk at home. Now, if you place the leaves in front of me, I can quite easily differentiate between the usual sencha, kabuse-cha and gyokuro. Sencha itself is more about the tea- the cultivation and processing, the manner of preparation and the selection of water, and not so much of chanoyu, which has been said to focus on everything else but the tea itself.
Good sencha ('boiled tea') is hard to come by. One could buy online, but that's only after much trial and error to pick out the better shops from the mass-market-driven ones. My stocks are mostly sourced from Japan, sent over by the darling friends who either buy exactly what my list indicates, or be adventurous to send me additional items. Not keen on friends buying me all sorts of tea to try, unless they know what they're buying. Even for us who kinda know our teas, there's a 70% chance that the teas we purchase will be crap, unless we get to taste that particular batch prior. Thrilled that the girlfriends brought back so many teas for me from spring. All the exciting first flushes. One gifted me an excellent batch of kabuse-cha (かぶせ茶) from Uji, Kyoto from this spring.
Excitedly brewed it specially to sit down with Kinfolk Volume Eight. The rich bright emerald green is gorgeous. Brewed it at a low 55ºC. The top-grade sencha, kabusecha, while sharing the same bush as the gyokuro, is slightly less shaded, but away from direct sunlight as well. Those run-of-the-mill sencha would be plucked from plants sitting under the sun.
As far as green tea goes, I'm partial to Japanese green tea. Not too keen on the rest. There's a certain seaweed, briny taste I'm looking for in a favorite. The aftertaste lingers sweet and beautifully complex. Such a treat.