Japanese green tea newbie
I have been really into drinking tea for about a year now, especially enjoying oolongs and Chinese greens. But now I want to try Japanese green tea, and I have a few questions. Does anyone know a good (and relatively cheap) site for Japanese tea? Whats the difference in taste/quality between asamushi sencha and fukamushi sencha? Finally, can I brew Japanese tea in my gaiwan, or will I need a new teapot? Thanks!
To be able to recommend you something I really need more information on what you mean by ‘good’ and ‘cheap’. What price would you refer to as cheap and what kind of quality are you looking for? It would be nice to know what country you live in as some sites do limit the places they ship to. A start could perhaps be o-cha.com.
The difference between asamushi sencha and fukamushi sencha is mainly the amount of time they have been steamed. Asamushi sencha is steamed less than regular sencha and fukamushi sencha is steamed longer. As for differences in taste, if we ignore a lot of other factors like place and quality, it really comes down to the level of astringency and maritime taste. I often find that certain fukamushi senchas have a stronger citrus taste than other variations.
While I see no problem in using your gaiwan for brewing Japanese tea, I feel that you should be aware of the fact that a lot of the brewing instructions on Japanese teas are designed for a Japanese tea pot or a kyuusu, which may often be a bit bigger than a regular gaiwan. Just adjust the amount of water and leaves to fit your gaiwan and it should be fine.
Thanks for the explanations, they are very helpful. I live on the west coast (USA), by “good” I really just mean acceptable. I’m a student so my tea budget is quite low, and the majority of it goes towards high quality oolongs from a local shop. It doesn’t have to be special or amazing, just enough to get a grasp on what Japanese green tastes like, so I can get a base understanding compared to Chinese green tea and branch off from there.
As for “cheap”, as I said I do not have a lot of money to spend. I would get 1-2 oz just to try it out (so low shipping cost is important) and if I like it I would invest in 4oz+. If I were to assign a number to it, less than $5 an oz.
Shadowleaf pretty much covered it. Have you tried Matcha? Thats the first thing i think of when someone says Japanese tea just because when i lived there it was what i had most of the time. In the rotating sushi restaurants they just had covered containers of Matcha in front of you with a hot water spout. Of course there was also wasabi next to that, funniest moment is when i saw a tourist mistake the wasabi for the Matcha (they watched a local use the green powder and assumed that was what the wasabi was) Luckily i stopped him in time (was tempted not so can’t lie). Very funny moment none the less.
Anyways we don’t carry Matcha there are some great retailers that do, But since you seem interested we carry two straight Japanese teas a Sencha and a Kukicha, we also have some flavored versions. We have only 1 review of our Sencha on steepster and would love more! Check it out! We also have for 1 more day a 20% off all tea sale. Use code: 20AUG2012 at checkout.
This is probably right up your alley: http://www.denstea.com/bnew-to-dens-teab-3-green-tea-sampler-for-novices-c-377_386.html
It’s a $3 sampler from Den’s Tea, and when you buy it, you get $3 off your next order for them. They’re a good place for Japanese greens, and it’s a cheap way to try them without too much of an investment.
You can use a gaiwan instead of a kyusu but that would be like using a wok to make French food :) I think that using the right tea pot makes the whole experience better, but that’s just my opinion.
Have you ever seen www.teachat.com?
If you want to try a bunch of different Japanese teas cheaply, you can do so there! It’s called “Official Tea Tasting Initiative” or “OTTI” for short. See here for the “about”: http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?f=74&t=16242
You have to be a member of the forum to participate, but it’s fairly simple. I’ve participated 3 times! :-)
You can see the schedule of upcoming ‘tastings’ here:
There is probably an opportunity to try Japanese greens every couple of months.
Finally, as others have said, Den’s Tea is a great place to get samples. You can buy their lowest cost sencha – ~$6 for 2oz, and also request a sample with the order to try something else…