Friday, April 27, 2012

Shoots and Leaves

I pulled out one of the tins of loose tea that Amber sent me for Christmas. Amongst the 12 pack, are names that I don't recognize. I can be rather timid in trying something new, especially when it comes to tea. I love tea. I drink it like some people drink coffee. Taking a leap and trying a different kind is a bit scary. What if I don't like it? But then I realize that every tea that I do like was foreign to me at one point. It's hot water and plant parts. Just jump in. So, the tea selected was Sencha.

Wikipedia tells me that Sencha is Japanese tea. It's the most popular form of tea in Japan and is made from unground leaves. The leaves are steamed and then rolled. Doing this creates the tubular leaves characteristic of this tea. I poured some into the strainer and this is what it looked like. Yes, that's a twig. I left it in the tea because I thought it was part of it. After reading about Sencha, I'm not so sure it is, but whatever.

So, I pour the hot water over the leaves and twig and let it steep. Tea should be left to steep for about 3 minutes to release all the aromas of the variety. Longer and some teas get bitter. Shorter and you don't have full flavor. I don't always let my tea steep for 3 minutes. It depends upon if I'm in a hurry or how strong I want the result.

This is the result after steeping. I pulled the strainer out of the water and thought, it looks exactly like grass clippings. And the aroma wafting off these leaves was quite "grassy". I wasn't sure I liked the smell. The twig is nowhere to be found. I haven't really poked around in the leaves to see if it sank to the bottom or what. I also thought, "Well, if you're going to read tea leaves, you probably don't use these." It was quite interesting.

What did the resulting tea look like? It's yellow. It's not green at all. That surprised me. I was expecting green. The tin's lid describes this as a perfect whole-day sipping tea. It's yellow. It was okay, kind of mild for my taste, but it was good. But yellow? I then read in wikipedia that this tea goes from green to yellow depending upon how long the leaves are steeped. Yellow is the strongest form of it.

You know me, I'll use a bag or a bunch of leaves until the water doesn't have any tea color in it. I will give this another shot and see how dark I can get the color. Wiki said leaving it to steep too long can result in a bitter tea. I like my tea strong so I'm curious to see what defines "bitter".

This is interesting. Amber's box has more names on it with which I have no familiarity. Expanding my tea experience is a good thing.

Beverage:  Sencha tea


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