Why Japanese teas?


Made from leaves that have not been oxidized.

Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby debunix » Aug 14th, '11, 12:42

This morning I'm enjoying my first sencha in a while, and not long after some fantastic and some disappointing experiences with Chinese green teas.

A couple of weeks ago I got a sample of a chinese green tea (Gu Zhu Zi Sun 2011 Spring Zhejiang green tea by Norbu), and it was an astonishing experience: I really felt like I was drinking a meadow of spring flowers--floral, sweet, just lightly grassy. After that, I went back to some of my other Chinese greens--from my local chinatown tea shop as well as from several other sources--and trying to see if I could bring out more of those wonderful flavors from these other teas. But while there is some sweetness, and nice vegetal flavors, and sometimes a hint of floral, there's also a basic element to the flavor--overcooked asparagus, maybe? not just nuttiness, nor astringency or bitterness--that is a bit off-putting. While the 'cooked' quality can be minimized with the best infusions, it's never entirely absent.

Though sencha never that has quite such a stunning floral quality, the 'cooked' flavor is entirely absent. There is plenty of vegetal sweetness, and nuttiness, and a little astringency, and sometimes a little briny umami, but not that cooked flavor. So it's usually sencha to start my day, and Chinese greens rotating with oolongs and puerhs and white teas the rest of the day.
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Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby AdamMY » Aug 14th, '11, 12:59

Did anyone mention "Because I like to use Japanese teaware?" If not that is definitely one of my reasons. I mean there are other teas I like far more but for the price per gram most Japanese teas are a bit of a deal compared to their Chinese and Korean counterparts.
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Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby oak » Aug 14th, '11, 14:45

debunix wrote: ... But while there is some sweetness, and nice vegetal flavors, and sometimes a hint of floral, there's also a basic element to the flavor--overcooked asparagus, maybe? not just nuttiness, nor astringency or bitterness--that is a bit off-putting. While the 'cooked' quality can be minimized with the best infusions, it's never entirely absent...


Probably it's difficult to explain a flavor, but when you say "cooked" are you refering to flavor to frozen fish when it is cooking?
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Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby debunix » Aug 14th, '11, 14:48

Sorry, I don't eat enough fish for your example to bring anything particular to mind.
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Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby oak » Aug 14th, '11, 16:05

Well, in Spain we take habitually fresh fish and frozen fish. The flavor is very different one from other one, The flavor of the frozen fish is a bit like the flavor to algae of the Japanese products, only a bit.

I have received two green Chinese teas one is Sencha with flavor to frozen fish, and I cannot understand how it is possible that a product of the field tastes to fish, already I have wondered it several times.

Other one is China Lung Ching " Dragoon Well " (Zhejiang province) from Rutland Tea's Co. It is very fresh and with an agreeable flavor that resembles the eucalyptus, the mint, and more flavors that I do not know and that I like.
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Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby Flonihoncha » Sep 2nd, '11, 04:43

This is an interesting question, because this is exactly what some Japanese people ask me when they see a foreigner (me) working in a Japanese tea shop in Japan. Even if they know I'm Japanese Tea Instructor, some ask me "why Japanese tea?".  This question shows how almost Japanese people does not consider Japanese as something that is good and deep. 
I explain them that Japanese tea is not only Shizuoka and Uji, there is wonderfull teas all around Japan. Also, I explain that there is sencha, gyokuro, kabuse Cha, kamairi Cha, etc, but considering only sencha, there is a lot of sencha types, not only the asamushi-fukamushi distinction, processing method, growing area, tea three cultivars makes thousand and thousand of variations. Recently, more and more new cultivars with great perfumes, almost are still rare, but if you take the time to search, you can find incredible Japanese teas, ie Koju cultivar have a wonderful grape-muscat flavor, .... Again, some adventurous growers try to innovate processing methods, like mister Hiruma.
Sencha is too general word, because in the reality, it is matching with a lot of very different things.
Then, like others teas, brewing methods gives a lot of possibilities even with the same tea.

So, why japanese tea ? Because it's as deep as others teas, there is a great diversity of tastes, flavor, ways to enjoy it, a fascinating history. Unfortunately, its diversity still remain not enough diffused, in the world, and, sadly, in Japan too. 
After, everybody have preferences and tastes. 
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Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby Tead Off » Sep 2nd, '11, 06:31

Maybe you can write about some of the less popular Japanese teas so you can educate many of the members here. For myself, I have just discovered Kamairicha and find this tea to be fascinating and in a different category from sencha.
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Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby David R. » Sep 2nd, '11, 07:46

Tead Off wrote:Maybe you can write about some of the less popular Japanese teas so you can educate many of the members here. For myself, I have just discovered Kamairicha and find this tea to be fascinating and in a different category from sencha.


Flonihoncha has a blog (in french) about japanese teas which is very educational.
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Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby Tead Off » Sep 2nd, '11, 09:03

David R. wrote:
Tead Off wrote:Maybe you can write about some of the less popular Japanese teas so you can educate many of the members here. For myself, I have just discovered Kamairicha and find this tea to be fascinating and in a different category from sencha.


Flonihoncha has a blog (in french) about japanese teas which is very educational.

Thank you!
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Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby Chip » Sep 2nd, '11, 10:07

Flonihoncha wrote:This is an interesting question, because this is exactly what some Japanese people ask me when they see a foreigner (me) working in a Japanese tea shop in Japan. Even if they know I'm Japanese Tea Instructor, some ask me "why Japanese tea?".  This question shows how almost Japanese people does not consider Japanese as something that is good and deep.
 
... but if you take the time to search, you can find incredible Japanese teas, ie Koju cultivar have a wonderful grape-muscat flavor, .... Again, some adventurous growers try to innovate processing methods, like mister Hiruma.
Sencha is too general word, because in the reality, it is matching with a lot of very different things.
Then, like others teas, brewing methods gives a lot of possibilities even with the same tea.

So, why japanese tea ? Because it's as deep as others teas, there is a great diversity of tastes, flavor, ways to enjoy it, a fascinating history. Unfortunately, its diversity still remain not enough diffused, in the world, and, sadly, in Japan too. 
After, everybody have preferences and tastes. 

Thank you for your insightful post!

I would like to hear more about the cultivars. I had never heard of this Koju cultivar. Unfortunately, the trickle down effect to the West can be quite slow. :cry:
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Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby Flonihoncha » Sep 2nd, '11, 11:29

Long time, I used to have a bad image of kamairi-cha, but I rediscover it 2 years ago, a real good Kamairi, it was from Miyazaki pref. I was wonderful, a great experience. The smell of good kamairi is called kamaka, I really emjoy that. Kamairi is now very rare, but a lot of people in Japanese tea industry agree that this type of tea have to be reevaluate. Unfortunately, few growers are really mastering the technic of kamairi, there is no new machines and very few makers.
Kamairi Cha (official name is kamairi-sei tamaryokucha, or pan fired tamaryokucha, very different from mushi-sei tamaryokucha, steamed tamaryokucha which is closer to sencha) is mainly produced in Kyushu.
Recently, some small growers, mainly in Shizuoka, are coming back to kamairi-cha, but they are not making traditional kamairi like in Kyushu, they are using it with new cultivars, especially cultivars renown for there fragrance, ie : Koju 香寿 (muscat), 7132, fujikaori 藤香(sakura leaf), or Koshun 香駿(flowers and almond). Kamairi enhance smell of tea better than steaming process. They also processed to a light withering, so this teas are something between "real" japanese kamairi-Cha and Baozhong. 
Concerning the four cultivars i gave ie this are of course originally variety for sencha, and this are also very interesting processed as sencha (there is only one grower using Koju, and i think he is not making sencha with, but I'm not sure.... So Chip, only some few Cha-maniacs heard about it).
The developpement of this kind of really strong personnality cultivars is important, but that's not so simple. However, this are an existence which give another dimension to sencha.

By the way, with japanese tea history, tea cultivar is one of my favorite subject !
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Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby Chajin » Sep 2nd, '11, 13:32

Funny, but as someone basically new to the forums, I was struck by the relative lack of discussion of Japanese teas vs Chinese ones. I assumed there'd be a lot of discussion of matcha in particular, because there are so many different blends.
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Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby NOESIS » Sep 2nd, '11, 19:48

Tead Off wrote:Maybe you can write about some of the less popular Japanese teas so you can educate many of the members here. For myself, I have just discovered Kamairicha and find this tea to be fascinating and in a different category from sencha.


I purchased three Kamairicha teas as part of my last Yuuki-Cha order. Miyazaki Tokujo, Miyazaki Okumidori, and Miyazaki Sakimidori. I've tried two of them already (Tokujo and Sakimidori), and am really enjoying them. A nice change from my daily sencha routine. They remind me of a cross between pan-fired Chinese green tea, pouchong, and asamushi sencha.
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Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby Chip » Sep 2nd, '11, 20:00

NOESIS wrote:
Tead Off wrote:Maybe you can write about some of the less popular Japanese teas so you can educate many of the members here. For myself, I have just discovered Kamairicha and find this tea to be fascinating and in a different category from sencha.


I purchased three Kamairicha teas as part of my last Yuuki-Cha order. Miyazaki Tokujo, Miyazaki Okumidori, and Miyazaki Sakimidori. I've tried two of them already (Tokujo and Sakimidori), and am really enjoying them. A nice change from my daily sencha routine. They remind me of a cross between pan-fired Chinese green tea, pouchong, and asamushi sencha.

Pretty accurate description of the ones I tried ... with emphasis on the Chinese green. I prefer its steamed cousin, tamaryokucha, which is more "green" in taste. But both present a change of pace.
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Re: Why Japanese teas?

Postby Xell » Sep 3rd, '11, 06:02

I've heard that only really little amount of roasted tamaryokucha is still produced in Ureshino region. Didn't touch this theme deeply, but what i heard process requires more manual labor and it's really difficult to keep consistent taste from batch to batch. Also most people prefer taste of steamed tamaryokucha. Which is why now it's almost extinct and difficult to buy even in Japan. I just asked shop owner, why he doesn't have any. He said that no one buys it...
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