Now this one smells quite grassy, the dry leaf somewhere between hay and lawn clippings, but also something else, maybe a bit damp and mulchy, soil-y, and… oh, well, I guess this is literally named “earth.” That tracks.
The wet leaf smells about like what I might just call “classic” sencha. Like one whiff of this would probably make anyone go, “oh yeah, that’s sencha.” Someday maybe I’ll have better words to describe this, but all I can say is that the scent is quite directly attached to a specific memory.
First steeping is quite mild, but I got a lovely surprise melon rind or cucumber note amid this grassiness.
I think I chronically under-steep my first steeping, but the second always seems to be where senchas really wake up. Another note about this tea said it would be good with sushi, and I feel like I agree. While I’m not finding anything fantastically bold or stand-out about this sencha, it’s just overall pleasant, with the grassiness and borderline savory brothiness I tend to favor in sushi-sencha without too much astringency.
I am gradually starting to relearn the visual differences in these teas. The leaves in this one are substantially smaller compared to the leaves in the autumn harvest tea I had the other day, which makes sense. Not especially small, but the autumn harvest tea had some impressively large leaves in it. This tea also seems a bit more fragmented than the last, but maybe that’s also just a common appearance with smaller leaves. I’m not sure what amount of stem-iness is common in these teas, but it feels like there are fewer in this spring tea. Hm, now I kind of wish I had photographed the leaves of prior teas for later comparison. Maybe I’ll start doing that.
By steeping 4 or 5 (I’ve lost track), it’s mellowed out into an array of boiled vegetable flavors, I’m getting bok choi and lima bean, maybe a hint of not-unpleasant collard-bitterness. I have been doing these tea sessions on an empty stomach lately, and I feel like it helps me tune into the flavors a little more, in the way that everything tastes better when you’re hungry. So far I have yet to get an upset stomach from this practice, though I have been warned some teas can do that.
It says on the packet that these teas were harvested from 30 year old tea trees. I wonder what flavor differences there are between old and new trees? I don’t see anything advertising “young” trees, so I am inclined to think that the older trees are more favored. Some very brief initial research shows that older teas are greatly favored in the puerh world as they impact how well a tea ages, but I am not sure what their role is in un-aged sencha. Hmmmm.
If I regret anything about ordering this Obubu sampler, it is perhaps not ordering two. It might have been fun to drink one session going in blind, as I often try to do, and a second after reading through the tasting notes and having a better grasp on what others find in each tea, and see if I can find similar flavors. A form of.. I dunno, mentally calibrating my tastes, I guess.
Really, it’s just nice to be mindfully tasting tea like this again. The last time I was in this habit, it was nearly a decade ago and I was coping with… a lot. Tea kept me grounded. Life is a lot easier now in many ways, even if it’s a little harder in others. I don’t necessarily need the tea habit as much now, but… I just really love it. And it’s nice to be finally enjoying a period in my life where I can do things that I love because I love them, without them needing to fulfill some practical function to be worth doing. I’m so grateful for that.