I made this iced for the first day of my new job. After an overnight steeping, the sencha and sakuranbou realy stood out and were exactly the energizing boost I needed at lunch. I crunched some teacubes in it and it made a kalaidascope effect. It’s a useful visual distraction after four hour of repetive labor.
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I tried this iced about a week ago and it tastes like a high quality version of the pitcher bag iced tea I drank as a kid. I’m icing today’s leaves for tomorrow’s prognosticated heat. =)
The second to last paragraph concerns packaging and customer service so skip it if you’re not interested.
Thre’s a lot to like about this tea. Starting with the dry aroma, which was floral, relaxing, and complexly fruity-not to mention so strong I could catch wiffs of it through two plastic bags and a canvas messanger bag. Smelling the whole container in the store was like being drowned in perfume. The color of the brew is gorgous, a surprising deep red that gets a brown tinge with a few infusions.
Brewed hot, it produced four good infusions and a fifth that wasn’t bad, just too weak for my tastes. The first infusion didn’t have much sakuranbou and oddly enough, the sencha tasts grassy in a non-tea way, like it was made from the blossoms and leaves. But after that, the cherry pieces finally plumped up and permiated the liquor. The sencha serves as a nice, earthy background to the bright sakura and robust sakuranbou flavors.
I think it’s even better cold, though. The sencha is still down played, but the sakuranbou and sakura balence out and make each sip a refreshing celebration of spring.
Howeve,r I wasted two first infusions working out the brewing times and temperature. This is because the store staff did post them nor tell me when asked. I don’t want to say “disinterested” but they just didn’t seem to be concerned with the teas section. This was compounded by the bags given to hold the teas measured from the jars in the store were easily ripped and sealed with twistie-ties, not even a sticker or scotch tape. Given that they don’t sell canisters and much of their buisiness is tourism, I can’t comprehend why it would be difficult to keep a roll of tape on hand.
Summery: Break out your glass teapots. Like all sakura senchas, this tea is as beautiful to see and taste. It’s very floral and fresh, so someone looking for a leading sencha with a light accent probably won’t enjoy it. It’s certainly not the best sencha, and it lacks any bitterness or astringancy that I think would go well with the sakuranbou, but for $3.25 for 2 ounces it’s good and exactly what I was looking for. It takes about a tablespoon to make six ounces, due to how loose and bulky the leaves are.
Cold: Six hours Hot: Add 20-30 seconds and a degree each infusion
The bag in was put into (or rather what’s left of it XD):
This is a pleasant Russian caravan that I think I got for $3.50 per two ounces. I usually don’t drink Russian but my mother made me smell it and I think I nearly shoved the stuff up my nose. It has a rich, spicy, hardwood aroma that promised a lot. When I brewed it, it leaned more towards redwood and earth than spice but it was still very good. I’ve gotten three good infusions from it and haven’t tried a forth. It’s not very complex but at a cheap price it could be a good casual drink. Be warned about the store: They’re aptly named, meaning they seem more concerned with spices and coffee than tea. They sell scoops from giant jars that you take home in cheap plastic bags sealed only with a twistie-tie so have some good canisters handy. They also didn’t know about steeping time or origins for anything. Still worth a sample or two if you’re passing though Philadelphia.
Photo 1: The color is a lovely red-brown
Photo 2: This is what I mean by “cheap plastic bags.” The tea inside is actually their Sakura Sencha, but they didn’t even right names on either of them. /=
I steeped the second cup a bit too long, but it’s still a perfect cup of tea. Mmm.