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candlelite said

Help needed with brewing Japanese greens

I usually drink Chinese green tas, but recently got some Japanese green samples to try and explore new flavours. I am having issues with these; the teas end up tasting very vegetal and seaweed-y, almost a fishy flavour. It is not bitter, but with the genmaicha I felt like I was drinking a liquid extract of Japanese seaweed crackers..not good. Even with the sencha I get the same profile, just without the cracker part. Is this expected and I am just not used to it?

I brewed the genmaicha at about 200, for 30s. The sencha I brewed at 190 for 1 minute. The liquor’s texture and colour is fantastic, I want to like it so much..help!

15 Replies

Hmm… try steeping it at a lower temperatures since green teas tend to be more delicate and maybe longer..maybe at least up to one minute. How much leaves and water are you putting in?

candlelite said

I’m adding about 1 tsp/cup, same ratio that I use for Chinese greens. How much lower in temperature should I try?

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I would agree with Allison and suggest a lower temp. However, that seaweedy flavor is characteristic of many Japanese greens. I happen to love it but my husband hates it. Perhaps Japanese teas are not for you. :( I think I’ve had Gyokuros that don’t have that seaweed flavor but I can’t think of the vendor at the moment. Might have been Den’s.

candlelite said

The thing is, I love that seaweed flavour..in seaweed! I just can’t get used to the flavour in my cup of tea :(

If the seaweed flavor is throwing you off, I think Mellow Monk offers some really “mellow” introductions to Japanese green tea. I tend to prefer making them like I would a Chinese green, and that’s been a pretty rewarding way to prepare them. It might be a more forgiving or familiar place to start.

Apart from the good suggestions of lower temps, I don’t have any other good advice; I am also a Japanese green newbie! Thanks for starting the thread- I am following it with great interest.

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Japanese green teas use a much lower temp and steep time. I would recommend 160-175 F water temp and less than a minute steep time. as you continue resteeping up the temp or steep time a little bit, but 190-200 F is really too high. Also, the seaweedy flavor is a characteristic of many Japanese greens, so perhaps they are not for you. When I first tried them I didn’t care for them, but over the years as my tastes developed and changed I enjoy them now. I found Harney and Sons Sencha to be more buttery and rich if you want to give that a try then if the time and temp changes don’t help.

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James R said

Your water temp is way too high, dont go over 175, I usually brew sencha around 175, and gyokuro at 155

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Birdman said

Mercuryhime hit the nail on the head. Vegetables, fish and seaweed are among the most popular foods in japan, so it kind of makes sense that their teas would taste similar. If you want a smoother flavor that is still distinctly japanese stick to matcha. I haven’t gotten around to trying them myself, but Red Leaf Tea has an insane amount of matcha flavors and several qualities of matcha that you can choose from. Here’s a link:
http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/

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candlelite said

I used the high temperatures because Den’s Teas recommended boiling for their green! Well, today I took your advice and tried the sencha again. This time taking the temp way down to about 160. After 1 minute, the liquid is faintly scented, and tasted slightly sweet. I decided to keep going and go for 2 minutes to see what it’s like.

First thing I noticed was a definite reduction in “fishiness”. The tea is almost savoury when it hits the tongue tip, but has a much sweeter lingering finish and a slightly heady vegetal flavour. When the liquid hits the back of my mouth, the umami flavour immediate makes me salivate. It was..nice! The more I sip, the more I like it.

I still have more Japanese tea samples; next time I will make some food to go with the tea. I don’t know if I would drink this everyday, but I can see that a cup of this would go very well with clean, bright flavoured foods, to give a rounded finish to the dish. Thank you so much for the advice everyone!

You have to make tea in a way that you’ll enjoy no matter what anybody else says. I’m glad you found a way to like your Japanese greens! They definitely go well with food too! Enjoy. :)

I’m glad it worked out for you!

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I’m so glad you made this thread. I’ve not liked Japanese greens so far for the same reason. I’m going to try them at lower temperatures now and see what I get.

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Barb said

Yes, I’m also glad to see this thread and I think my problems (mostly bitterness rather than fishiness) have also been temperature-related. I just re-checked a packet of genmaicha I have at work and it says 165 F, steep time 2-3 minutes.

Barb, The general Japanese guidelines for genmaicha is 1 tsp per cup, boiling water, 30 seconds. For sencha its 1 tsp per cup, 160 F, 1 minute.
The longer the brewing time, the more bitter it gets.

Barb said

Still experimenting!

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