This was just one of the many gifts that arrived from Den’s Teas yesterday in their green tea sampler pack. It has been a while since I had a gen mai cha, so I thought I would go the low fuss route and just utilize the version that came already collected in one of their pyramid tea satchels. (Though they also sent unused tea pyramids for the loose tea as well.) It is the same tea as in the loose leaf pack, so I assumed there would be little difference.
This was actually their extra green flavor which means that it was dusted with a heavy portion of matcha, which was great to impart the green tea flavor even with only a relatively short brew time. I did not dive too deeply into flavor exploration as this was a fairly typical gen mai cha. The salty notes and the toasted rice were there, although I did not notice any popcorn kernels in the blend. Ultimately it was a pleasant cup, which would make a very good daily gen mai cha, if you consume japanese tea regularly.
Yet the most remarkable thing about this bag was the longevity of the tea. It yielded 5 cups over a variety of brewing methods and probably could have gone on for more! Part of this is definitely the matcha element, but it was also clear that excellent care was taken in the process of transferring the loose tea into these tiny infusion pyramids. The instructions suggested a brew time of 30 seconds, but I opted to go on for about 45 seconds for my first steep, as I generally like slightly stronger green tea (western taste buds). This was still a bit light for my taste, but definitely sharpened my appetite for more. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th steeps ranged from about 1-4 minutes. I have to say, even when this tea is a bit bitter, it is still very resilient. Again, I think this is a result of the matcha helping to keep any astringency from the sencha in line with the flavor of classic japanese green tea. The final cup was a bit of a blunder. I meant to do a long brew with lukewarm water for the leaves that I expected were well used at this point: about 10 minutes, so that I could keep it in the fridge and mix with fresh water for a tall glass the next morning with breakfast. However, I forgot about it and accidentally left it on the counter overnight. Despite this, the results were pretty much the same. This overnight room temperature steep did not yield nearly the amount of bitter flavors I thought it would.
So after really pushing the limits on this tea, and considering that a box of it is only $5, I would say that you definitely get your money’s worth.