Saturday, November 19, 2011

Across the Sea to Japan

Back to the Swiss mountains today.

It's another beautiful day in the neighborhood.  I am going out later to finish some garden cleanup - the chrysanthemums are finally done.  The Sunday after Thanksgiving, I will put up some Christmas decorations on the lamp post and door.  It may not be much.  5 weeks of doing very little has let my house get overrun with stuff and an urgent need to be dusted.

Are you ready for Thanksgiving?  I have my menu set, except for how many desserts I want to do.  We are having 5-6 friends come and they all have their orders on what to bring and how much work they have to do - at least the overnighters.  I still have this bubble in my eye and sometimes it just seems like an overwhelming interference, although my vision improves almost daily.  Sadly, there will be no tea at the meal, as they are all a bunch of super dedicated coffee people who refuse to drink tea.  Bunch of weenies.  However, I do have some very nice coffee from Gimmee Coffee and we'll have that.

At the moment I am kind of bored with black and Oolong teas, so I am having some green tea.  I got it at Wegman's and it is from Japan, Ureshino Tama Ryokucha Tea.  The instructions are to brew 1 teaspoon per cup for 1-1.5 minutes in waterat 175-190.  I follow these directions, as I am not a regular Japanese tea drinker.  However, the first cup brewed for 5 minutes because I forgot to turn on the timer.  It looked and smelled awful, so I threw it out.

The next cup I did properly.  The dry leaves looked like very fine grass clippings, only a much darker green.  They smelled like a cross between hay and dry seaweed.  The brewed liquor was a pretty yellow green, smelling very vegetal with a whiff of seaweed.  It has a full mouth feel, with a small hit of astringency.  To me, it has something of a muddled taste.  I don't want to say it tastes like seaweed, but it reminds me of it.  There is something in it that reminds me of kale or other strong green leafy veggies.  That's as good as I can do.  It is not a delicate tea.

The only references I can find to this tea are on a Czech site and it says it is made in the style of Chinese tea, but the picture looks nothing like the tea I bought as theirs is slightly snail shaped.  Urishino is a town in Japan.


suusan said...

Sencha leaves make like the needle after steam,but the tama ryokucha do not.
The tamaryokucha brew at 80° for 1min.
Please re-challenge!

Marlena said...

I am not sure this tea was really tamaryokucha, as the tea was just slim needles before I did anything to it and doesn't look like any of the pictures of tama ryokucha I could find.

suusan said...

The slim needle leaves are sencha tea.
High-grade sencha tea brew at 60° for 1min with less water.
Tamaruokucha do not knead to slim needle.
So,the taste are not sophisticated,but have a distinctive taste.

Alex Zorach said...

My experience with tama ryokucha has been that it is more sensitive to brewing temperature than a typical sencha, and that I strongly prefer using a low brewing temperature, like around 160F / 71C, like I would with Gyokuro, maybe even cooler. I actually like this style of tea with water that's not very hot, but I like longer steeping times.

But it's also true that some of these names of Japanese green teas are thrown around a bit carelessly, so unless you're familiar with the style, it's hard to know exactly what you're getting, let alone what quality it is.