Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Tea Time: Let's Talk Sencha!
I feel obliged to begin the Tea Talks with the brew most often imbibed by me: Stash Premium Green. This is a sencha-style blend of green teas, which the Stash company originally sourced directly from Japan. However, several years ago, they set up an outpost in Brazil, and now the tea is produced there, though to my palate it is the same tea. I have easily ingested 1000+ cups of this simple, crisp and clean green tea. The big surprise is that most of the cups which I've consumed were brewed from ... drum roll: BAGS!
People who are really into tea tend to look down on bags, and I tend to agree. However, there are a few cases where bag tea has achieved the stratum of imperial craft, and sencha is probably the best developed tea bag in the universe because in Japan sencha is consumed more avidly even than water! Seriously, they serve sencha constantly. Every meeting, every meal, every pause, every talk, every event is accompanied by a fresh pot of sencha. In the hotel rooms, there is even a tea center every bit as obligatory as the writing table and the bathroom! The Japanese do not mess around when it comes to sencha, an essential part of Japanese life! Or should I say essenchal?
Yesterday, Jalé commented on Facebook that she found it odd that the British so often prepare tea from a bag, and I agree that most tea is better produced using loose leaves. In many cases, the improved brew is worth the pain of cleaning up the mess later. With well-dosed and produced sencha bags, however, the tea produced using the bag method is PERFECT. You cannot get any better than perfect, so why even try?
Like the Japanese, I am a purist when it comes to sencha: nothing is better than sencha alone! No cream, no sugar, no honey, just pure clean, crisp, peridot-citrine colored sencha! Sencha has a delicious, almost food-like, slightly vegetal and nutty taste which should not be masked, and I never, ever add anything to it. There is something deeply satisfying about this tea, as though it were liquid food--or manna from heaven!
I like the double-walled Bodum glasses (pictured above), because they are cool to the touch but keep the brewed tea at the perfect temperature from the first sip to the final drop. The secret is the thick cushion of air between the two layers of glass, and I applaud (and am grateful to) the designer of these ingenious vessels! I am very picky about the temperature of hot drinks, and if my coffee or tea becomes a degree or two too cool, then I have to give it a zap in the microwave. (If that is not possible, then I toss it or else (if caffeine is the issue) guzzle it with some disgruntlement.) My preference is to drink tea at its optimum temperature over a few minutes, but sometimes I get distracted by this or that.
Sencha is a superb green tea, and judging by the amount I've consumed, it has to be one of my favorites. The Stash Premium Green teabags are foolproof for me and offer nearly instant gratification and happiness. I was thinking about the perfumes to which I'd compare this composition, and it would have to be these:
Do I believe that these are the best perfumes on the planet? No, I do not. But they are dependable, and never, ever let me down. I can wear them day or night, and even to bed, which is how I managed to drain the bottles! (Yes, I am working through backups of each...)
Now it's your turn: how do you feel about sencha? Are there any perfumes analogous to your sencha experience? Which drinking vessels do you use, if you drink sencha? Do you add milk, sugar, or other adulterants (in my view)?