Good-Quality Chinese Sencha


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Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby Anotherhealthnu... » Mar 6th, '13, 13:20

All:

Looking to save money, I've purchased several Chinese sencha-style teas, and I've consistently been badly disappointed. The tea is green and in needles, but even looking at it, it's clearly paler and less consistent in its coloring than real Japanese sencha, is obviously not rolled, and often has a lot of twigs in it. Brewed, they don't have the deep, sweet, umami grassiness of real sencha.

This is not magic, and it's not terroir — it's process: properly steaming and rolling the leaves. Can anyone point me to a supplier who's doing it right still bringing the price down?

Thanks!
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Re: Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby TokyoB » Mar 6th, '13, 13:58

Well, "good-quality Chinese Sencha" might be an oxymoron.
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Re: Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby Chip » Mar 6th, '13, 14:05

+1

Hi, welcome to TeaChat.

Cheap Chinese Sencha will always disappoint, period. TeaSpring.com used to carry a pretty decent steamed green tea, although they did not call it Chinese Sencha. It is available periodically. And it is/was not cheap.

Yamamotoyama carries a Brazilian Sencha that is cheap, although I have never tried it. And from what I have heard about it, I am not likely to any time soon.

You may be better off looking for less expensive Japanese Sencha.

What is your target price?
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Re: Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby Alex » Mar 6th, '13, 16:25

+2
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Re: Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby victoria3 » Mar 6th, '13, 18:31

I bought Yamamotoyama, Shincha Brazil Green Tea knowing that Brazil has a large Japanese population of tea drinkers. I happen to have two teaspoons left of so I made a brew to re-visit how I liked it. Not bad at all actually, pretty nice grassy palate, depth & not bitter, for an inexpensive sincha at 7.99$ for 3.5oz
_Yamamotoyama,-Shincha-Brazil-Green-Tea.gif
_Yamamotoyama,-Shincha-Brazil-Green-Tea.gif (186.97 KiB) Viewed 1196 times
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Re: Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby Anotherhealthnu... » Mar 7th, '13, 21:04

Chip wrote:Cheap Chinese Sencha will always disappoint, period.


I'm sure, at one time, "they" would have said the same thing about California wine, or extra-virgin olive oil from Spain. The costs of production are inherently lower, there's no regional/reputational markup, and making good tea is method, not geography (though, of course, agronomical factors including elevation and soil acidity play a role — but China is a big place). I cannot believe that no one has figured this out — or, if they really haven't, that they won't in short order.

Chip wrote:TeaSpring.com used to carry a pretty decent steamed green tea, although they did not call it Chinese Sencha. It is available periodically. And it is/was not cheap.


I'll look for it — thank you.

Chip wrote:Yamamotoyama carries a Brazilian Sencha that is cheap, although I have never tried it. And from what I have heard about it, I am not likely to any time soon.

You may be better off looking for less expensive Japanese Sencha.

What is your target price?


Under $20 a pound.

victoria3 wrote:I bought Yamamotoyama, Shincha Brazil Green Tea knowing that Brazil has a large Japanese population of tea drinkers. I happen to have two teaspoons left of so I made a brew to re-visit how I liked it. Not bad at all actually, pretty nice grassy palate, depth & not bitter, for an inexpensive sincha at 7.99$ for 3.5oz


Thanks! in the photo you posted, it almost looks like cut garnish parsley, not needles of rolled tea; is that really what it looks like?
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Re: Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby AdamMY » Mar 7th, '13, 21:28

Well there are lots of reasons why China wouldn't make sencha. For one the plant varietals are different, and the Chinese plants might not taste right when made like Sencha. Secondly why would China try and imitate Japanese tea, when they have a large variety of famous Chinese teas to imitate?

To make sencha requires a rather large outlay of capital to purchase specialized equipment to steam, and roll the teas appropriately. Not to mention they would likely have to experiment for quite a while to get it to taste somewhat properly. Something a country that has such a history in their own tea production is likely not to want to do when they could just tap the talent and methods their country is known for.
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Re: Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby Chip » Mar 7th, '13, 21:29

AnotherHealthNut wrote:Under $20 a pound.

IMHO ...

You get what you pay for. $20 per pound for a "sencha" regardless of where it originates is going to be ... hard to drink ... especially in the time frame required while it has any degree of freshness. Types of teas like Gunpowder and the like are your best options at this pricepoint. Some Chinese vendors would have a better tea ... but not a drinkable decent "sencha."

I have had plenty of bad sencha ... it is just not worth the effort ... and I do mean effort as it requires effort to drink versus being a pleasure to drink.

From a "Health Nut" PoV, I would not touch the stuff let alone drink it.

Just sayin' ... :mrgreen:
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Re: Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby gingkoseto » Mar 7th, '13, 21:39

China actually makes a lot of sencha and some matcha, including certified organic ones, all for Japanese market. But I guess you can hardly find any Chinese vendor selling it, because barely any Chinese drinks sencha. You may not find many Japanese vendors selling it either, because those Japanese vendors facing western market would mainly sell Japanese sencha which is more expensive. I vaguely remember Dragon Tea House once sold some Chinese sencha or matcha?
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Re: Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby victoria3 » Mar 7th, '13, 23:27

AnotherHealthNut wrote:Thanks! in the photo you posted, it almost looks like cut garnish parsley, not needles of rolled tea; is that really what it looks like?

Yes, that how it looks, nice & green. Here are the dry leaves for you to see. Not spectacular, but fine given the price & nice flavor.
Yamamotoyama-Shincha-Brazil-Dry-Leaf.gif
Yamamotoyama-Shincha-Brazil-Dry-Leaf.gif (140.54 KiB) Viewed 1111 times

Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan and during the last century introduced their agricultural practices to the country resulting in some great produce. The local Japanese markets here in Los Angeles sell a lot of lower end Yamamotoyama teas, the one I speak about is a lower end price but is at least a new leaf Sincha. I also tried Yamamotoyama's Organic Green Tea but found it very bland. One thing I've come across is with the lower price teas consistency can vary between each new package.
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Re: Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby Keiki » Mar 8th, '13, 14:12

Yamamotoyama's teas in the brazillian market are absolutely awful (brazilian here). All of them. It is really the stuff that nightmares are made of. But I kinda have to thank them, because after tasting all of their teas and getting utterly disappointed I thought "man, if there are a lot of tea addicts in the world they must be drinking something better than this, no one can like this stuff" - and that has led me to O-cha.com, dragonteahouse, teachat... :D

Maybe they sell their less-horrible stuff to the outside markets?

Dragon Tea House has "Chinese Sencha" and matcha, but they're kinda meh (still better than yamamotoyama tho :)) You'll probably like their chinese greens like Long Jing better.
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Re: Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby edkrueger » Mar 8th, '13, 14:33

I've never understood which is the Brazilian tea. Can some one show me which of the below it is? Or is it not on there?
http://www.yamamotoyama.com/greentea_4.html
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Re: Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby victoria3 » Mar 8th, '13, 18:38

edkrueger wrote:I've never understood which is the Brazilian tea. Can some one show me which of the below it is? Or is it not on there?
http://www.yamamotoyama.com/greentea_4.html

Interesting, I don't seem to see it on their site. Here is a picture of a new package I just purchased at my local Japanese Nijiya Market. Since I recommended it as an inexpensive nice green, I thought I'd see how a second package tastes. I'll check later today.
Yamamotoyama-Sincha-Brazil.gif
Yamamotoyama-Sincha-Brazil.gif (164.17 KiB) Viewed 1049 times
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Re: Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby edkrueger » Mar 8th, '13, 18:43

Thanks! That clears it up. I guess I haven't had it then.
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Re: Good-Quality Chinese Sencha

Postby victoria3 » Mar 10th, '13, 17:17

edkrueger wrote:Thanks! That clears it up. I guess I haven't had it then.

Ok, so I tried the new package to see if it was consistent and it seems fine for an inexpensive Japanese green. It won't inspire a deep craving, or generate any new poetry, but as an economical alternative it is acceptable. The second steep is better than the first, with a deeper flavor and nice astringency. The 1st steep I used 3 teaspoons to 4.5 ounces at 165 degrees for 1minutes; it produced a slightly earthy with very slight grassy brew. Not bitter but with slight astringency. The liquid is more yellow than green which doesn't inspire me.
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