The fact that I haven’t been Steepstering shouldn’t lead you to believe there hasn’t been any tea activity. There were moments of supreme tea bliss in California in the fall, where I managed to visit no fewer than three Lupicia stores in the Bay Area… with predictable subsequent stash-killing results.
It did help me forward with poor neglected Project Green, to some degree, which will hopefully see more action in 2015. This is one of the California teas, chosen especially as a Project Green participant.
It’s a first flush sencha (Does that automatically make it a shincha? Or is that an additional category within the first flush senchas?) from Uji, a city right outside of Kyoto. Things I knew about Uji that made me pick this one up: parts of the Tale of Genji play out there. High-quality green tea is made in Uji. The world’s oldest tea shop (Tsuen Tea) is located in Uji. It seemed like a good start, right?
I obviously realize the ridiculousness inherent in picking something like this up from Lupicia, rather than just ordering it online from a(n even more) local company that carries Uji-produced teas, but it’s convenient, which is a major bonus in these times of carpenter/painter/electrician-propelled chaos.
Obviously, I could keep talking about other things, but you’d know it’s because I’m just trying to avoid exposing my painfully inadequate green-tea-tasting skill to the world, so let’s just do this.
In the bag, this is all long, skinny needles of dark green. Dry, it smells very sweet, but with a baked note to it as well – light and elegant, though, like the most delicate of green tea-infused sponge cakes.
In the pot (for I made a whole pot of this, as has become my habit, and I will soon be out) some of the sweetness evaporates nose wise, and it comes off more as a light, mellow cloud of…light brown. My synesthesia screws me over here, because I don’t have better words than this very plain cross-sensory experience of colour. The liquid is a yellowish green, though, and the flavor is all green, all the way.
What’s so terrifying about green tea – and I know I’ve said this before – is that it is its own flavor. It tastes of green tea. In addition to that, I can speak of notes of hay or grass or sweetness, but no full-fledged mango is ever going to spring up and punch me in the face. No childhood memories will be evoked, because the first time I tried green tea (and I grimaced, and I complained, and I vowed never again) I’d already taken and discarded more lovers that I have fingers on my hands.
And that makes this very scientific, rather than emotional. And science, in its turn, is obviously terrifying, because it suggests unnegotiable truth. Two of the most intimidating words! Unnegotiable. Truth.
On the tonguetip, it’s vegetal. No salty weedness, but boiled grass – the good boiled grass, too; the top-shelf boiled grass. The main body of the flavor hits mid-tongue; mid-swallow. There is surprising complexity, and it’s a light, late spring, early summer type of flavor. The aftertaste is heavy on the grass, but it’s more of a full-on meadow than just the sweetgrass, so the complexity lasts throughout the sip.
All in all, a complex, mellow, smooth sencha that makes me want to explore more Uji teas.