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Recent Tasting Notes
Another lunch of eggs over easy atop English muffins with sautéed arugula and sliced vine-ripened tomatoes simply cried out for sencha. Today’s choice: Fukujyu from Thé Santé.
Initially, I found the taste of the greenish yellow liquor a bit grassy and more astringent than yesterday’s Nagashima. However, by the second glass, I was a believer once again! i wish that I could figure out why the second glass is nearly always so much better than the first. This happens quite often to me and makes me think that ratings on the basis of a single glass may be generally less favorable…
I’ve been neglecting my beloved sencha of late, being focused more on China greens. Today’s first meal of the day, however—eggs over easy on toasted English muffins, all topped with sautéed arugula and served with fresh sliced tomatoes from the vine with a light sprinkling of sea salt and fresh-ground pepper over the whole production—cried out naturally for sencha, the perfect savory lunchtime accompaniment.
Thé Santé’s Sencha Nagashima is simply delightful. I brewed today at a very low temperature—sub-70C—because I was letting the water cool and over shot a bit while cooking in the kitchen, but the result was the same scrumptious viridescence.
This is an excellent sencha the likes of which helps to explain the perhaps otherwise puzzling phenonenon of why the Japanese are so focused on a single tea. Good is good, and when it’s good and dependable, why branch out? I also feel that habit plays a role, just as when people (self included) cannot really conceive of a certain time of day without a certain beverage in hand. Coffee is the natural choice in the morning for countless Americans, including myself, but more and more that has become my last cup of java for the day, now that I have been exploring the vast universe of tea.
To me, this Ginger Green from Thé Santé smells, looks, and tastes like a high-quality bancha tea. There is a good dose of ginger here, too, but it does not shroud the excellent tea base.
The liquor is pale greenish yellow and tastes very smoothy and bancha-esque. i am surprised that the tea is described by the company as sencha, not bancha, but it does not really matter in my case, as I happen to love both!
I am very optimistic that a second infusion of these fragrant leaves will produce a stronger ginger flavor perfect for a pitcher of iced tea!
(Blazing New Rating #79)
The labeling of my package of this tea from Thé Santé is a bit confusing. The first line reads “Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose” and right underneath, in doubled-sized font, reads: “China”—rather like the tetsubins advertised as “Japanese” when they are in fact produced in China. I see that the website has now removed “Kyoto” from the name, so perhaps someone complained?
Anyway, this is a good flavored-green tea. The base seems to be of quite decent quality. It’s identified as “luxury green tea” in the ingredients list, and my suspicion is that there may be a smidgeon of bancha thrown into the mix along with the sencha. I happen to love bancha, so that’s no complaint, mind you!
The rose petals are beautiful in the dried tea, but I’m not sure that I really taste them with all of this cherry. As I often find to be the case with cherry flavoring, it can easily become overwhelming. Here it works pretty well, but I feel on some level that the underlying tea (which is of high quality) is being done some sort of injustice. Rather like a pretty young woman who piles on thick make-up. Or an older woman whose attempts to look younger are undermined precisely by a foundation which magnifies the lines on her face.
Anyway, this is perfectly fine, but I think that I prefer to imbibe green tea of this quality au naturel. This may be a better choice for people who dislike Japanese green tea and wish to shroud it in strong flavors.
(Blazing New Rating #58)
Today’s two-glass tetsubin of Thé Santé Shade-grown Gyokuro was the perfect accompaniment to my lunch of eggs over easy sautéed with a big pile of arugula and served atop toasted English muffins.
The short, cooler steep produced a pale green liquor with an incredibly silky texture and smooth taste. Looking forward to the second infusion, later today…
I brewed up a medium-sized tetsubin of Thé Santé Sencha Shizuoka today to have with lunch: toasty french bread and soft-boiled eggs. It turned out to be a great accompanying beverage: slightly astringent and vegetal but not overly so. The liquor was pale greenish yellow with a touch of halo-like viridescence.
Prepared correctly (cooler temperature, short steep, sufficient leaves), this is a solid savory green tea for me, and I’ll probably restock…
Seriously delicious sencha here: Thé Santé Nagashima. Thank goodness for these obscure Canadian tea purveyors! I have discovered a wide range of very tasty offerings from my new-found friends up north, which I suppose makes sense, since it is probably even colder in Montreal right now than it is in Boston—though it’s almost May!
I brewed this medium-sized tetsubin (two Bodum glasses’ worth) using cooler water and a short steep time. The resultant liquor was beautiful greenish golden and tasted even better than I had recalled. I drank this tea right after a lunch of eggs over easy with baby spinach and arugula sautéed in EVOO and piled atop freshly toasted English muffins. Perfect!
I’ve been focusing on China green teas recently, but now I’m switching gears for a sencha suite. First up was today’s Thé Santé Fukujyu. Very smooth and satisfying. The liquor is pale green and there was no astringency whatsoever to this batch. I used cooler water and a short steep, in addition to a finer meshed sieve to catch the smaller particles.
I like it, I do!
second infusion: I drank this right after some jasmine green tea, and by comparison this sencha seemed mighty fishy! It really tasted like seaweed in a way that I had not noticed before.
I obviously made this pot of Thé Santé Bancha Shizuoka on the strong side, as the liquor is more golden than pale yellow, though the steep was short—less than two minutes, I believe. It tastes really wonderful, so I seem to be coming over to the “more tea, shorter steep” school of proper tea preparation. Every pot I’ve made this way this week has been excellent.
I have not even been measuring the tea, just throwing a fair amount of the dried leaves in the bottom of the huge basket and then watching with amazement how the volume grows through the infusion process. I had no idea how much bancha expands! The dried leaves look so thin and frail, yet they end up as nice-sized leaves. They are chopped a bit, but still rather large—though nothing like oolong, of course…
Well, I still don’t find this to be a true sencha specimen, but it did taste better today than last time. My thinking now is that this may be a Chinese bancha blend or perhaps a bancha-sencha blend. It’s definitely potable, and I’ll continue to fiddle with the parameters in an effort to find the optimum preparation method for this particular tea.
This Bancha Shizuoka was another recent discovery for me thanks to Thé Santé. It definitely has that characteristic (and indescribable!) scent and flavor of bancha. I wish that I could explain what it smells like. It has the appeal of sniffing glue somehow…
Anyway, the strongly scented dark green sheaths produce a pale yellow liquor bursting with bancha flavor. Yum. I consumed many pounds of bancha in the past, and at one point it became my ichiban Japanese green! Now I’ve been exploring gyokuro and haute sencha, but this Bancha Shizuoka has a welcome place in my cupboard. A very flavorful green tea.
second infusion: delicious!
third infusion: equally delicious!
Today’s pot of Fukujyu was a bit more astringent than I remembered the last one being. Still, it was a nice post-lunch sencha. I noticed that the liquor was more golden than green, which makes me wonder whether I may have steeped longer this time than last. I’ll have to check that.
In today’s steep-off chez sherapop, Thé Santé Gyokuro Shade is going sip to sip, sniff to sniff against Teavana Gyokuro Imperial. To my surprise, Teavana won the competition!
Gyokuro Shade is good, no doubt, but it brewed up slightly less green and was a bit less flavorful than the Teavana. I used exactly the same brewing parameters for the two teas. Now I must either lower the rating of this tea or raise the rating of the Teavana.
I’ve decided to do a complete green tea steep-off, by the way. You know how they do big tennis tournaments? I’m doing the same thing, in order to determine which is my ichiban green tea. I am starting by comparing the same type of tea with the same type of tea side-by-side—so sencha vs. sencha, gyokuro vs. gyokuro, Long Jing vs. Long Jing, Mao Feng vs. Mao Feng. Then once I’ve found the winner in each category I’ll do steep-offs between my favorite in each category against other favorites in other categories.
Eventually, I’ll learn the truth: which is my favorite green tea of them all?
second infusion: held up pretty well
Today’s pot of Sencha Shizuoka was somewhat less satisfying. Perhaps I underleafed? The liquor is pale golden yellow (not green), and the flavor is not very vegetal at all.
I should use 3 tsp, not 2 tsp, for this tetsubin in the future…
This organic green tea from Thé Santé is a bit disappointing, relative to some of their other superlative sencha offerings.
I noticed right off that there were quite a few twigs mixed in with the dried leaves. Then when I infused the tea, I found that the liquor was more golden than green. The taste is not strictly “sencha”-like. To me, it seems more like a generic green, more baked than steamed. It could even be Chun Mee!
Interestingly enough, I was musing to myself while imbibing the first infusion of this pot that the brew seemed more like a medium-grade China green (possibly a blend of some sort), than a high-grade Japanese sencha. It simply lacked that je ne sais quoi of the senchas dear to me.
All of this I observed before reading at the website that, in fact, in contrast to the labeling on my packet, which states quite boldly that “Japan” is the country of origin, this is a China-sourced tea prepared à la Fuji Sencha from Japan! I cannot say that it is false advertising, because my purchase was based on the information at the website (I ordered quite a few packets simultaneously to meet the free shipping threshold), but I was looking forward to a pot of sencha this afternoon, and this packet does say that it is from Japan.
Disappointing, but I am at least vindicated in all of my observations. I did not first discover that this was a China-sourced tea and then interpret the brew negatively, laboring under the fairly pervasive anti-China prejudices which can be seen and read all around. No, I found myself surprised that a tea from Japan could seem so much like an average China green, and then learned a bit later that it was!
After yesterday’s late afternoon melt, the streets and sidewalks and the cul-de-sac approach to my house are covered with a thick block of ice. A perfect excuse to stay home and drink tea! Especially given the memory indelibly etched in my mind of the time when I ventured out in such conditions several years ago and ended up coming home with a fractured wrist!
For today’s pot of Sencha Nagashima, I used a bit more tea, knowing that I’ll be doing multiple infusions since I have no intention of venturing out. It’s so dangerous that I cannot even bring myself to tiptoe to the Starbucks two blocks away!
This brew is excellent. I stand by my high evaluation from last time. The texture is silken and smooth, and there is tiny bit of saltiness to the glistening bright yellow liquor. A wonderful steamed green tea selection, which I highly recommend to sencha enthusiasts!
second infusion: bright yellow liquor, flavor still going strong
third infusion: pale yellow liquor, flavor closer to average sencha. Still a decent late-night decaffeinated cup!
I received a sample of Sencha Mobata along with an order from Thé Santé. This is a light and refreshing brew with a beautiful luminescent yellow color. The halo-like quality appears to be created by tiny white particles suspended in the bright liquor.
The taste is lighter than the other senchas I’ve tried from this emporium. I like this brew, but the second infusion was nearly tasteless, so I’ll probably stick with some of the heartier varieties. I did not really notice the chocolate and pistachio notes mentioned in the description from Thé Santé.
Another delicious Japanese tea from Thé Santé, this Sencha Nagashima is a real treat. The liquor is almost fluorescent yellow-green (albeit pale), and the dried leaves are dark and evocative of roasted spinach. The pieces of the tea are quite long, and there are some stems along with the leaves.
The flavor of this beautiful sencha is very fine indeed—they describe it as “luxury green tea,” and I have to agree. At some point, I’ll have to do a steep-off between this sencha and the Gyokuros now gracing my cupboard.
Needless to say, I am very happy to have ordered a variety of different haute Japanese green teas from this company, which for some reason seems not to get much attention from Steepsterites, though it is Canadian and there appear to be quite a few Canadians around these parts!
second infusion: The same gorgeous hue of almost neon yellow-green; the same splendid sencha taste.
third infusion: more golden than green; still good
fourth infusion: this round seems more like average than supreme sencha, but it’s still perfectly potable!
This was my very first cup of Gyokuro. After having heard so much about it, I was naturally very excited. To my surprise, it tasted a lot like a super-fine sencha. No complaints, mind you, since I happen to love sencha!
The liquor was more green than yellow, the dried leaves very dark green and somewhat broken up, without being powdery. I really enjoyed the first infusion earlier today and am looking forward to a follow-up tonight.
second infusion: jade dew—yes! delicious and beautiful
third infusion: still peridot-citrine perfect green, the taste is still great, and the texture is silken on the tongue. I love this stuff. Dare I try a fourth?
fourth infusion: (a first for me…) I made one more cup with the spent leaves. Remarkably, the brew was still good! I love this tea!!!
This Fukujyu Sencha from Thé Santé is truly delicious. Definitely earns the label “superior sencha”!
The dried tea is dark and redolent of roasted spinach. The brewed liquor is yellow-green, and the flavor is perfectly sencha, with the added pleasure of a silken texture.
second infusion: Distracted by something, I managed to forgot about this brew for several minutes and so oversteeped, but it was still just as good as the first infusion! A bit more golden in color, but not at all bitter.
third infusion: I tried a third round on the same leaves after dinner, and it was lighter but still delicious—and hopefully caffeine free by now!
Today I was very scrupulous with temperature and timing in brewing this sencha from Thé Santé. The water was less than 80C and the steep lasted precisely three minutes (the package recommends 3-4). The brew was the usual beautiful citrine-peridot hue and tasted oh-so-sencha satisfying. There’s a reason why the entire population of Japan is addicted to this tea…
second infusion: Usually I wait until later in the day for a second infusion, but I did one very soon after my first infusion because I was still craving another cup. It was good!
third infusion: I do not always make it to a third infusion, though I recall from my trip to Japan that they use the same leaves over and over again. This one was faint and lighter colored, but still a nice post-dinner, caffeine-free (or close) thirst quencher.
In today’s pot of Sencha Shizuoka, I used a bit more tea, with the result that the liquor had a detectable spinach taste to it. Delicious!
I love how every sencha has its own unique personality. Yes, they are similar, but they are also individuals as varied as separate human beings!
second infusion: tasted even more like roasted spinach—with a dash of pepper
I rarely bother with a third infusion because often it’s too weak for me. This one was better than usual: still faintly reminiscent of roasted spinach, this time even more peppery!
Sencha Shizuoka is a light and refreshing sencha, as it should be! The color of the brew is very pale yellowish green. The dried leaves are rather fragrant, with the scent of something akin to spinach. The taste is clean and only slightly vegetal.
I drank my first cup right after my first meal of the day (which never takes place before noon…): a bowl of steaming Scottish oatmeal with molasses brown sugar and a dash of salt. Now feeling good despite the antarctic weather outside!
This is my first tea from Thé Santé, which does not seem to get that much air time around these parts. I’ll have to review the rest of the items from my order as well! Mostly Japanese…
So far so good.
As an experiment, I tried the second infusion using hotter water and a two-minute steeping time. It was very good and not at all bitter!