It seems to me that at the moment, a fair few of you are buying sample sizes of lots of our green teas, so this might just be the moment to tell you more about the green teas that we have in stock.
Remember, if you have any questions, just fire them over, and we’ll do our best to answer them.
Green tea is a huge area, and lots of people come in and tell us that they’ve never liked green tea. Admittedly, green tea can be quite distinctive, an acquired taste maybe, and certainly nothing like the usual tea we drink here in the West, especially if we drink it with milk and sugar.The first thing to remember is that the secret is in the brewing – brew it cooler than your usual, as over 75 degrees can make it more bitter. If you’re a newbie to green tea, we recommend starting with something mild, even flavoured if you like, just to ease you into full blown green teas.
We have a wide range of good quality Japanese and Chinese green teas, and it’s worth thinking about the differences between these, before going much further.
Japanese green teas are often shaded, which will increase the chlorophyll in the leaves, which leads to them having a deeper flavour, more intensely ‘green’ if you like, and Japanese green teas are often described as having a ‘seaweedy’ flavour – I tend to think of it as being a combination of seaweedy and grassy, as if you’re walking in a meadow by the beach. The actual varietal makes a difference to the taste as well, and at the moment we are fortunate to have tea grown by our favourite Japanese tea farmer, Ryo Morisaku. We have each of three different varietals, each prepared as sencha, so high quality tea, and each tastes slightly different. Yabukita is the most common varietal in this particular area, but Okumidori is a much better quality varietal. These are both grown from cuttings, so are true varietals. The other sencha we have is called Zairai, which essentially is a seed grown varietal, so the breeding cannot be guaranteed. Each of these tastes slightly different, so the best way to taste the difference is to have a Japanese tea session, with samples of each of these. Each infusion can be resteeped several times, increasing the temperature with each infusion.
One of the characteristic features of Japanese green teas is the shape – that rolled needle shape is quite distinctive, but we have another tea, a Chinese green tea which is produced in the style of a Japanese needle shaped tea, called Pine Needles and has that distinctive smell and taste.
So moving on to Chinese green teas, we have some excellent quality green teas, ranging from first flush to later harvests.
One of the most famous of Chinese green teas is the Dragonwell, and while there is only one reputed ‘dragon well’ there are in fact several teas which are called Dragonwell. We have two currently, the Early Spring Yunnan “Bao Hong” Dragon Well Green Tea and the Premium Grade Dragon Well Tea From Zhejiang. The recommended way to brew Dragon Well tea is to use approximately 4 or 5 grams of tea for 250ml of water, in a glass cup or glass cha hai pitcher. Though some may prefer to slightly rinse the first infusion, the most common way is to NOT rinse the leaves. Use water that is about 80~90 degrees and infuse for 1 to 2 minutes before drinking. Once the water in the glass/pitcher reaches halfway, pour more hot water and fill to the top. This can be repeated several times, mostly retaining the original flavor of the tea. No filter is needed and many enjoy chewing on or eating the tender leaves. Traditionally Dragonwell type teas are drunk in the summer.
Another unusual tea which is brewed ‘grandpa style’ in a long glass or pitcher, is Tai Ping Hou Kui, one of my favourites. This is a tea where the leaves are roasted, then pressed, currently between wooden blocks coated with paper, but traditionally between fabric, to the extent that the weave of the fabric can sometimes be seen in the leaf. I find this tea tastes floral and sweet, and can be brewed several times.
As mentioned earlier, we have a Chinese green tea processed in the Japanese style, the Laoshan Village ‘Pine Needles’ green tea. The varietal is Long Jing, and the process involves hand-processing (hand-frying, hand-rolling, and hand-drying in a wok) gives this tea an incredibly thick and bright viscous tea soup, alternating umami and sweetness and satisfying invigorating cha qi and long lasting mouth-feel.
One of my current favourites is the Imperial Xinyang Mao Jian, one of the top ten of Chinese famous teas (信阳毛尖) and it is a famous and ancient green tea produced in Xinyang township of Henan Province. and has a history of more than 2300 years. Mao Jian means furry tips. The tea is small and needle like , green with white furry strips on the inner side of the leaf. The taste is classically small leaf green tea with sweet and umami taste, the aroma is grass and pine, the feeling in the mouth is thick and pungent, and it just feels perfect for these cold wet days.
Among other green teas we have currently are a first flush Mao Feng, and unlike other greens, the leaves are not rolled and the leaves and buds stay largely unbroken. The very downy leaves mean that the mouthfeel is amazing. The flavor is bold and nutty but if not over-brewed is smooth and satisfying. Very tender and tippy with vibrant umami and sweet that will soothe and stimulate, the taste is green and vegetal, with notes of green chestnut and fresh flowers. Sweet aftertaste and nice mouth watering effect! This is the highest grade Yunnan Mao Feng available!
So, links to the teas I’ve mentioned,