Today was a good day, I got to visit my favorite local Asian Market, the illustrious International 888 Store that is as big as a large supermarket and has a huge selection of yummy foods. Also and entire large aisle devoted to tea which I spend way to much time lingering in. Of course there are lots of beautiful tea pots and some clothes as well, what can I say, I love this store and visiting it is one of my favorite things. Also my reviewing schedule for tea is totally thrown off because I got to try a tea that has been on my ‘to try list’ for years! The package arrived last night and I could have tried it immediately, but it is far to beautiful a tea to drink at night, this needs sunlight.
Today I am reviewing Sakura Tea by Kyoto Obubu Tea Plantations and Yunomi.us! I was told (more like warned a bit) that this tea is ‘uniquely Japanese’ and may be a bit weird, this warning was completely unnecissary because I love a lot of ‘uniquely Japanese’ things (I mean I eat Beni Shoga straight from the jar and eat seaweed like they are chips, I love Japanese food!) So of course when I see a beautiful and very delicate tea made from cherry blossoms preserved in salt and plum vinegar, I think to myself “I have got to get my greedy little hands on some of that” and several years later, I finally did! The aroma is sweet and a bit tangy, it reminds me of pickled peaches, or more likely pickled plums but a touch sweeter. The floral notes are very subtle and the tartness mixed with salt is a delicious aroma. I admit it, I licked the salt crystals out of the package, I may be a salt addict.
At first I wanted to try the tea without adding any of the salt brine from the initial soaking, just nothing but flower. The aroma is very mild with a blend of sweetness and flowers, it smells very much so like a spring breeze carrying the aroma of flowers from a distance. The taste is as mild as the aroma, delicately sweet and floral with just a touch saltiness. There is also a smooth and nutty aftertaste.
Adding the brine makes the aroma a little stronger and the taste, well, lets just say I might have giggled a bit at how good it was. It leaves the mouth feeling smooth and the taste is creamy with hints of tartness and floral. It is a bit salty, but deliciously so! It does not leave the mouth feeling dried out as one would expect from something salt pickled, but instead invigorates the salivary glands. The aftertaste is nutty and enjoyable.
It was recommended that you can brew it with other teas, specifically Genmai Cha and Sencha, conveniently I have some of both so first let us try the Genmai Cha. It seems strange to say it, but Genmai Cha is a pretty potent tea, at least when compared to Sakura Tea, so the addition of a flower certainly does not overpower the already present taste. It does compliment it very well with notes of sweetness and delicate floral tones. I really enjoyed the subtle sweetness added to what I usually consider to be a savory tea.
Brewing the flower with Sencha was a wonderful idea, really this is delicious. It adds a buttery sweetness and the floral and pickled notes are much more prominent than in the Genmai Cha. I feel a bit bad, I want to get into detailed descriptions on how wonderful this mixture of flavors is, but it honestly boggles my mind a bit. It is one of those moments where I think my Synesthesia kicked in and all I can perceive are colors. Beautiful spring colors swirling in my mouth!
Lastly I found a recipe for a Sweet Sakura Latte and had some time to kill while waiting for Ben to return home from school, so I wanted to try it out. He arrived home the moment I finished photographing the results and I deiced to let him have the first sip, expecting the worst (as a rule he is not a fan of most Japanese foods and teas) but surprisingly he really enjoyed it. We ended up splitting the latte, which was nice. The taste is creamy and sweet with just a hint of the salt. There are strong notes of floral that finish off with a nutty aftertaste.