Mecha tea


Made from leaves that have not been oxidized.

Mecha tea

Postby HtomSirveaux » Jan 18th, '11, 14:33

I got some great responses for my first topic, so I'm hoping lightning strikes twice here. :D

I recently got a pound of Sencha Fuka-midori from Den's, and it came with a sample of a tea I'd never heard of called 'mecha'. The sencha is underwhelming me, since it's very vegetal but not bitter enough for my palette. The mecha on the other hand seemed to have that very vegetal/bitter combo I'm looking for. It was also priced in the same area as the sencha, so I'm thinking of getting a pound of it for my next order. My question is whether I'd be ordering an inferior tea (lacking the caffeine, theanine and other good stuff that gives a proper tea high). I can't find much info on mecha besides Wikipedia, and I'd rather not rely on them. Is mecha worth a shot, or would this be a green tea newbie mistake?

Here's a link to Den's page for the tea:
http://www.denstea.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=102_116
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Re: Mecha tea

Postby Chip » Jan 18th, '11, 14:44

Mecha is most often the more or less a recovered tea or a byproduct tea, similar to kukicha in this regard. It is usually step higher than dust or fannings or konacha.

I have never had mecha, but it should give you what you appear to be looking for. I would not mind trying it. I am sure like any tea, there are good examples and bad examples of mecha.

Their Fuka-midori, not to be confused with fukamushi, is pretty mild fare, as you have discovered. As Den's points out, it should not be compared to sencha costing more. It is inexpensive sencha that some like as an everyday tea, and it is interestingly a best seller for them.
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Re: Mecha tea

Postby rdl » Jan 18th, '11, 14:55

HtomSirveaux wrote:My question is whether I'd be ordering an inferior tea (lacking the caffeine, theanine and other good stuff that gives a proper tea high).

i can't answer scientifically but i think if you like the tea then as a green tea it should also have more or less the benefits you are looking for. i wouldn't worry about tasting new teas and trying less popular teas. there is no better way to learn, and the plus is you already know you enjoy it.
here is another on line vendor that carries mecha - you can read their description.
http://www.japanesegreenteashops.com/sa ... pteas.html
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Re: Mecha tea

Postby HtomSirveaux » Jan 20th, '11, 15:01

Thanks for the responses. I guess I'll give the mecha a try with my next order, but 'byproduct tea' doesn't inspire much confidence. :lol: I'll at least be able to look forward to some of that Maromi tea they're peddling.

I should explain that one of the reasons I drink tea is the same reason I drank coffee: it changes how I feel and think. Coffee of course gives you a powerful caffeine buzz, but that's coupled with less positive side effects that I'd rather avoid. Good green tea supposedly combines that (milder) caffeine buzz with a sense of calm and concentration. I've felt that a few times with green tea (most often with Den's sencha tea bags, which seem sweeter and tastier than their fukamidori), but I've generally just been getting a weak caffeine buzz from my green tea. I'm assuming the kind of green tea I'm drinking is at fault, and this is one of the differences I've found between tea and coffee; with coffee, besides arabica and robusta beans having different tastes and amounts of caffeine, the taste and high is pretty consistent. With green tea, it seems that the origin, age, and processing all greatly change the taste and chemical effects of the drink, and that these differences are significant enough to render many teas (I'm talking loose Japanese, not bagged junk) not worth drinking if you want a good tea high. Is this accurate?

Again, thanks for all your help!
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Re: Mecha tea

Postby rdl » Jan 20th, '11, 15:33

HtomSirveaux wrote:Thanks for the responses. I guess I'll give the mecha a try with my next order, but 'byproduct tea' doesn't inspire much confidence. :lol: I'll at least be able to look forward to some of that Maromi tea they're peddling.
I should explain that one of the reasons I drink tea is the same reason I drank coffee: it changes how I feel and think.

HtomSirveaux,
it is my personal opinion (and without knowing any asian languages) that "byproduct tea" is a poor translation or description of these kind of teas. tea producers take great care to make their high quality tea but also know the value of the entire tea leaf during all harvesting seasons. they know while processing the leaves these tips will fall off, and that there are leaves lower than the top buds, and the stems and twigs have a distinct flavor. so it is not as if they ask someone to sweep up at night and throw what is collected into a bag to sell.
mecha, bancha, kukicha, etc, are made from the collected wisdom of tea producers over the centuries, and each tea has a place at the table with different foods or after meals. i think because green tea drinking is newer outside of asia, and tea hadn't been grown and produced there, this label of "byproduct" has come to be used.
as to how one thinks and feels from drinking green tea, i am sorry i can't be of much help to you, but thank you for sharing your "tea effect."
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Re: Mecha tea

Postby Chip » Jan 20th, '11, 16:45

I like byproduct tea and have no problem with the name ... it is a matter of knowing what goes into the byproduct tea. Some I won't touch.

But never had mecha ... that I am aware of.
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Re: Mecha tea

Postby rdl » Jan 20th, '11, 17:25

Chip wrote:I like byproduct tea and have no problem with the name ... it is a matter of knowing what goes into the byproduct tea. Some I won't touch.

chip, i do slightly disagree in the sense that tea shops, on line or b&m, don't have a sencha section and a byproduct section. when a tea is labeled mecha or houjicha or so, that name defines the tea. it as as easy to know what is in them, as it is in a tea labeled sencha.
i don't refer to disreputable producer, but if you have a respectable seller then you know what to expect and how the tea if processed by the name it is given.
i see it more like a potter having a bit of left over clay and makes something from it. that little piece is just as beautiful and valuable for what it is. to call it a byproduct seems unjust.
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Re: Mecha tea

Postby AdamMY » Jan 20th, '11, 18:01

rdl wrote:chip, i do slightly disagree in the sense that tea shops, on line or b&m, don't have a sencha section and a byproduct section. when a tea is labeled mecha or houjicha or so, that name defines the tea. it as as easy to know what is in them, as it is in a tea labeled sencha.
i don't refer to disreputable producer, but if you have a respectable seller then you know what to expect and how the tea if processed by the name it is given.
i see it more like a potter having a bit of left over clay and makes something from it. that little piece is just as beautiful and valuable for what it is. to call it a byproduct seems unjust.


I do think you believe a byproduct is always a bad thing that is not the case. A byproduct is not always bad, subpar, etc. It is just simply something made while aiming for a different end result. I mean oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis, and we actually cherish that very much.

So I have no problem calling some of these teas byproduct teas, because they were made while aiming to make Sencha or Gyokuro, or Matcha. This does not mean they are bad, or even sub standard, it just means it is not what they intended to make while aiming for the other teas.
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Re: Mecha tea

Postby rdl » Jan 20th, '11, 18:42

AdamMY wrote: I mean oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis, and we actually cherish that very much.
So I have no problem calling some of these teas byproduct teas, because they were made while aiming to make Sencha or Gyokuro, or Matcha. This does not mean they are bad, or even sub standard, it just means it is not what they intended to make while aiming for the other teas.

adam,
it's not a question of good or bad. some lesser qualities teas are bad - a cooking matcha is not a good drinking tea, but it is perfect for cooking, it's intended use and very tasty - and some non-senchas are quite good. what i mean is we don't call oxygen a byproduct element. we are so used to the elements (we are less used to producing and to drinking tea) that oxygen, where ever it is derived from, is called oxygen. there is no byproduct section of the periodic table.
when you write "it just means it is not what they intended to make," it may not be always true that is what the producer wasn't trying to make. in fact some are intended. sencha or gyokuro is made from leaves or stems. is stem sencha or gyokuro byproduct tea? if not, why is bancha kikucha? what is happening is a tea grower sees the whole plant and knows what is best for what, and how to achieve it.
so my point is if you grow a tea plant to use the lower leaves for a bancha tea, or the twigs for a kukicha, or second or third harvests for tea - then this is not a byproduct.
especially since with sushi for example, you want a certain taste of tea to drink with it. and that wouldn't be a gyokuro. nor a shincha with greasy foods. these are intended produced teas that are drunk with those foods.
this is just my way to appreciate tea. i don't mean to drag on this discussion. to each their own, that's the magic of a small green leaf and hot water.
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Re: Mecha tea

Postby AdamMY » Jan 20th, '11, 19:11

rdl wrote:
AdamMY wrote: I mean oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis, and we actually cherish that very much.
So I have no problem calling some of these teas byproduct teas, because they were made while aiming to make Sencha or Gyokuro, or Matcha. This does not mean they are bad, or even sub standard, it just means it is not what they intended to make while aiming for the other teas.

adam,
it's not a question of good or bad. some lesser qualities teas are bad - a cooking matcha is not a good drinking tea, but it is perfect for cooking, it's intended use and very tasty - and some non-senchas are quite good. what i mean is we don't call oxygen a byproduct element. we are so used to the elements (we are less used to producing and to drinking tea) that oxygen, where ever it is derived from, is called oxygen. there is no byproduct section of the periodic table.
when you write "it just means it is not what they intended to make," it may not be always true that is what the producer wasn't trying to make. in fact some are intended. sencha or gyokuro is made from leaves or stems. is stem sencha or gyokuro byproduct tea? if not, why is bancha kikucha? what is happening is a tea grower sees the whole plant and knows what is best for what, and how to achieve it.
so my point is if you grow a tea plant to use the lower leaves for a bancha tea, or the twigs for a kukicha, or second or third harvests for tea - then this is not a byproduct.
especially since with sushi for example, you want a certain taste of tea to drink with it. and that wouldn't be a gyokuro. nor a shincha with greasy foods. these are intended produced teas that are drunk with those foods.
this is just my way to appreciate tea. i don't mean to drag on this discussion. to each their own, that's the magic of a small green leaf and hot water.



The point I was trying to make is a byproduct is simply something that is not the main product made.

But my understanding is with tea the leaves get plucked, and during processing they get sorted into the different products. But the main purpose of plucking the tea is to produce a product, which with Ichibancha would usually be sencha. They go through the processing and end up with something called Aracha. Now Aracha can be sold as is, but it usually gets sorted into Sencha, ko-cha, mecha, Kukicha and so on, and then each of those is sold or processed slightly more then sold. But the thing is the intended product was Sencha, the others are more people realizing "why throw this out, it has its own unique flavors and can be used?"

I am also saying to my knowledge no one goes into a tea field with the intent to produce Ko-cha, or mecha, but rather sencha.

Just as with Photosynthesis, the plants goal is to make food for itself, the fact that oxygen comes out is great for us.
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Re: Mecha tea

Postby JRS22 » Jan 20th, '11, 23:02

AdamMY wrote:The point I was trying to make is a byproduct is simply something that is not the main product made.


To my mind you're capturing the difference between these Japanese "byproduct" teas, and the supermarket teabags which contain fannings rather than whole leaf. That tea has to go in bags because who would pay good money if they could see the tea outside of the bag.
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Re: Mecha tea

Postby rdl » Jan 21st, '11, 00:31

this late evening comical image just came to mind. i remember in the butcher shops there was often a picture of a cow and it looked like a map - dotted lines showing the different cuts, each area a different quality. maybe the name of the section was also on the meat map.
i see a tea plant like this. all mapped out in dotted lines along different parts of the leaf, stem, twig. those leaves that give the best quality, tips that will break off, lower leaves, etc.
nothing on the cow chart says byproduct to me. just a slicing map for meat.
with tea, the dust that results from processing tea couldn't be mapped out as it doesn't exist yet. that to me is a byproduct, as is whatever is used in soaps and shampoos.
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Re: Mecha tea

Postby AdamMY » Jan 21st, '11, 09:37

rdl wrote:this late evening comical image just came to mind. i remember in the butcher shops there was often a picture of a cow and it looked like a map - dotted lines showing the different cuts, each area a different quality. maybe the name of the section was also on the meat map.
i see a tea plant like this. all mapped out in dotted lines along different parts of the leaf, stem, twig. those leaves that give the best quality, tips that will break off, lower leaves, etc.
nothing on the cow chart says byproduct to me. just a slicing map for meat.
with tea, the dust that results from processing tea couldn't be mapped out as it doesn't exist yet. that to me is a byproduct, as is whatever is used in soaps and shampoos.


Just because I am curious, besides the stems for Kukicha, what parts of the leaves are dedicated to which teas, split between Sencha, Kocha and mecha?
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Re: Mecha tea

Postby rdl » Jan 21st, '11, 12:54

AdamMY wrote:Just because I am curious, besides the stems for Kukicha, what parts of the leaves are dedicated to which teas, split between Sencha, Kocha and mecha?

adam,
you bring up a great idea for a seperate topic: ask the tea grower. if someone is, or knows a, tea grower it would be nice to have an expert (like our resident tea artisans) answer our questions.
if not a tea grower, than someone in the industry who could cover different growing regions.
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Re: Mecha tea

Postby HtomSirveaux » Jan 21st, '11, 20:01

I never expected to cause such heated discussion with my 'byproduct' line. Sorry about that! I've had kukicha and am aware that that's a byproduct. I know it has its boosters (macrobiotic folks especially), but it didn't do much for me after the initial novelty, and I guess I was thinking a byproduct tea like mecha might be the same way. But the post mentioning viewing tea harvesting and processing as a whole with many parts was quite illuminating. I'll definitely be keeping a more open mind about all the various Japanese green tea final products out there.

Thanks for all the feedback!
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