Sunday, 16 December 2012

Japanese Tea

The birthplace of beauty, i've felt inspired to look at Japan's teas since I bought a set of these Paperchase greeting cards a couple of Christmases ago...


Koson Ohara 'Willow Bridge'

Japan makes predominately green tea but that's not to say they're the same as the China green teas i've posted about recently.  

Firstly let's look at Organic Gyokuro, which some call Japan's finest tea and this JING example is a whole leaf green tea grown in Kagoshima, Kyushu.  Gyokuro is considered a high grade tea because it's grown in the shade and plucked in the early months of spring!  It also requires specific processing techniques, making it a sensitive tea that should be brewed gently at around 60c.  

getting started with Gyokuro
I know what you're thinking but no, this is not crispy seaweed ha ha!  It has a grassy yet vegetal aroma that seems different to previous China green teas i've tried.  Gyokuro means 'jewel dew' and you can see why, as it brews into a pale green colour below.  It can be re-steeped a good few times and i have to say as i took my time over it and let it cool a little, it started to grow on me.  This is quite in-keeping with the Japanese way of drinking tea and rushing would go against everything they stand for.  A refreshing tea, i could agree with JING's description of a pine forest taste but also found it grassy too.  What stands out though is how creamy and soft this tea is as well as being a little sweet and great for afternoons. 

Jewel Dew
High grade tea isn't everything though and JING's Genmaicha Green Tea is a great choice for the festive period as it boasts a nutty, toasty taste.  This has been one of my favourite's for a long while and the popcorn rice kernals goes down well at my house - I think it has the fun factor! 

Genmaicha Tea with popcorn!
enjoying Genmaicha with a book on a Sunday morning
The idea of mixing Sencha with rice may sound strange but it used to be consumed by the poorer people of Japan as the rice filled out the tea, making it less expensive!  When you taste this tea though, you realise the rice isn't a filler but a nice toasty twist on a refreshing tea and i prefer it quite hot as opposed to the Gyokuro.

Hojicha Green tea is another great choice for the festive and winter times as it's "roasted in a porcelain pot over a charcoal fire turning the leaves a reddish-brown and giving it a rich warming taste".  Don't be afraid to drink this tea if you've had a lot of food (and who hasn't this time of year?!) as it's great with food and also low in caffeine!
Hojicha roasted over charcoal
I found this Hojicha really interesting and different and i had to steep it quite strong and hot to really get the flavours out.  JING describes the appearance as "Havana leaf brown" and it does conjure up an image of sitting around a fire smoking on cigars!  It's sweet but still smooth with an earthy vegetal taste next to a flavour of nutella on toast! 


A delicious Havana leaf brown 
Thanks for taking a break with me to look at these lovely Japanese teas.  If you want to encourage more tea breaks this Christmas (or beyond) then JING is offering free delivery up until Tuesday 18th December.

Also, if you'd like to save some pennies, i can offer you a 10% discount on all orders!!  Just quotes "TEASTREET" when ordering.