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SENCHA FAIL.

Well, that was supremely unfun. I woke up pretty excited today, ready to hit up some sencha, serious-style.

I was all prepared to do 1 tsp/8 oz., but then I went onto Steepster’s description of this tea, and read 1 tbsp/9-12 oz. And that’s where everything fell apart.

Let’s start with the leaves first. Can I just wax poetic on how absolutely gorgeous these leaves are? Crumbly and a beautiful, beautiful deep green. Gorgeous! They feel so wonderfully silky and shiny. They’re truly a thing of beauty. The smell is somewhat similar to cut grass with a slight butter note. I was really excited to try this.

So I measured out 1 tbsp, dumped in 9 1/2 oz. of water, and waited a minute for this to steep. The water immediately became this murky, swampy concoction, not unlike Ryokucha from Samovar. And the pour took forever, because the leaves were so thick and mush-like.

My first warning sign was the color of the tea. I’ve read that sencha is a pretty yellow-lime-green color. Mine was deep, dark olive. Darker than Ryokucha. I seriously couldn’t even see the bottom. The smell coming off of it was promising, though! Leafy and buttery with notes of grass and brine. So I hesitantly took my first sip…

…and nearly spat it out in the sink. Oh my. That had to be the most bitter thing I’ve ever tasted in my LIFE. And ridiculously strong, too. It tasted like wheatgrass x1000. Like I just swallowed a mouthful of the most bitter, ridiculous grass I’d ever tasted. Seriously, that bad.

Panicking a bit, I began to dump leftover warm kettle water into my cup, hoping it’d dilute.

It helped, but barely. The flavors were so strong and dominant and disgusting that I needed to dump it all in the sink.

In a bit of a panic, I contacted takgoti (who sent me this probably wonderful tea, had I brewed it correctly!), who gave me some reassurance and suggested that I modify stuff a bit.

So I dumped out most of the leaf, until I was left with something closer to a teaspoon, used 8 oz. of water, and steeped it again. This cup smelled around the same as the first, and the taste…

Well, it’s still a bit bitter than what it’s supposed to taste like (the ratio is probably not perfect), but I’m getting a LOT more flavor that I’m supposed to. Now there’s more of a grassy-green taste, chased by a bit of brine, and followed by some assertive bitterness. Following that bitterness is a wonderful sweetness that envelops my mouth. It’s not a nectar sweet. It is a sweet that I can only say would probably be the way that grass would taste if it was edible.

I know that I royally messed this one up. And it makes me really sad, because I know that sencha is very popular, and I trust that takgoti has given me a most excellent sample.

I don’t really know if sencha will ever be one of my favorites. Right now, I can’t really get the memory of the intense bitterness out of my memory, and it’s sort of coloring the much better cup I’m having right now.

Not giving this one a rating for now! Hopefully when I steep it correctly I’ll have a much better time!

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Carolyn

Perhaps steep at 160 degrees for 45 seconds instead?

teaplz

That might be an idea, Carolyn! I think I need to lessen the amount of leaf as well. I’ll try closer to a tsp, at 160, for around 45 seconds next time! Luckily enough, takgoti gave me a large enough sample to play around with!

Ricky

Sencha is generally 30 seconds-1minute. I think your better off trying 30 seconds, take a sip if it’s too light pour it back in for another 15 seconds. 160F would also help.

teaplz

The only thing that suggests to me that I need way less leaf is that when I diluted the infusion with a lot more water, it began to taste better. That tablespoon felt very, very heavy, especially in comparison to other teas I’ve made using a tablespoon. I’ll definitely try lowering the water temperature and steep time, though!

The other thing that makes me think that this needs less leaf is that takgoti did hers at 1 tsp/8 oz. and it came out fine… and she’s the only other one that’s reviewed this one.

Ricky

More tea leaves, more water. Less tea leaves, less water. More tea leaves, moderate water, lower steeping time. Ahhh, it’s a crazy complicated recipe.

takgoti

Have fun playing around! That’s half the appeal of tea for me, anyway! We’ve all had tea fails, so don’t sweat it. I know I’ve personally had a couple of epic ones!

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Comments

Carolyn

Perhaps steep at 160 degrees for 45 seconds instead?

teaplz

That might be an idea, Carolyn! I think I need to lessen the amount of leaf as well. I’ll try closer to a tsp, at 160, for around 45 seconds next time! Luckily enough, takgoti gave me a large enough sample to play around with!

Ricky

Sencha is generally 30 seconds-1minute. I think your better off trying 30 seconds, take a sip if it’s too light pour it back in for another 15 seconds. 160F would also help.

teaplz

The only thing that suggests to me that I need way less leaf is that when I diluted the infusion with a lot more water, it began to taste better. That tablespoon felt very, very heavy, especially in comparison to other teas I’ve made using a tablespoon. I’ll definitely try lowering the water temperature and steep time, though!

The other thing that makes me think that this needs less leaf is that takgoti did hers at 1 tsp/8 oz. and it came out fine… and she’s the only other one that’s reviewed this one.

Ricky

More tea leaves, more water. Less tea leaves, less water. More tea leaves, moderate water, lower steeping time. Ahhh, it’s a crazy complicated recipe.

takgoti

Have fun playing around! That’s half the appeal of tea for me, anyway! We’ve all had tea fails, so don’t sweat it. I know I’ve personally had a couple of epic ones!

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Bio

22-year-old NYC girl just starting out on her tea adventures! I used to hate tea. If you asked me a few years ago what I thought of tea, I’d tell you it tasted like hot, dirty dishwater. Not anymore! I acquired a taste for tea when I started drinking peppermint tea for my upset stomach problems. From there I graduated to teas like chamomile and Lipton. But Lipton wasn’t strong enough!

I’m getting the hang of this loose leaf thing. Black’s my default, but I’ve found that I really love teas that fall into every category. I’m a purist – I always drink my tea neat. I prefer unflavored tea over flavored tea, and really dislike anything flavored with artificial-tasting substances. I’ve grown up a bit in my tea drinking, and I find that novelty appeals to me less and less.

I also am the happy girlfriend of the boy that created the tea randomizer, which can be found here: http://www.jaydeee.net/pickatea.php

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New York City

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