Alright, I’m finally getting around to this one. I received this tea as part of a swap with S.G. Sanders several months back and have been drinking on it off and on ever since. This particular tea is a so-called “Chinencha,” that is, a Chinese Sencha. That may seem a little odd, but it really is not.
Over the years, there has clearly been quite an exchange of cultivars, growing methods, and processing methods among tea producing countries. As the popularity of certain styles soars, demand often exceeds supply, and of course, prices for available product increase. What do tea producers do? They find ways of replicating foreign styles domestically, often for a much lower cost. Such is the case with teas like this one. The popularity of Japanese green teas has been increasing around the world, especially in China, and Chinese tea producers have found ways of replicating Japanese teas for the domestic market and the foreign markets they supply. While not exactly identical to authentic Japanese sencha, these teas will often be successful in approximating the overall character of most sencha. The point to all this rambling I suppose is that consumers should not necessarily be scared away from a sencha or a gyokuro simply because they do not come from Japan. A number of these Chinese teas are actually quality products. They make great introductions to the style, and perhaps most importantly, they won’t kill your budget.
I don’t know much about this particular tea. Aside from the fact that it comes from China, I can’t tell you much about it. When it came to preparing this tea, I decided to see how it responded to a slightly tweaked version of the modified Japanese-style three step infusion I used for the Sencha from Steven Smith Teamaker back in November. For this session, I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in approximately 8 ounces of 165 F water for 1 minute. I followed this infusion up with a 45 second infusion and a 1 minute 30 second infusion.
Prior to infusion, I picked up mild aromas of grass, hay, and straw. After infusion, I detected only slightly more intense aromas of grass, hay, and straw. I thought I could detect hints of soybean and broccoli as well. In the mouth, I picked up a mild wash of butter, broccoli, hay, straw, lettuce, nuts, and seaweed. The second infusion was where this tea really came into its own. Everything from the first infusion returned, but was clearer, crisper, and stronger. I noticed hints of lemon and a slightly briny, marine character that augmented the stronger seaweed presence. The third infusion surprised me. It was not a complete wash. It retained a mild grassy, buttery character that was underscored by brine, soybean, hay, seaweed, and minerals.
Overall, this tea wasn’t bad. It did a respectable enough job of approximating some of the more common characteristics of an authentic sencha. I could tell that it was a Chinese tea (that slight lemony note was a giveaway for me), but I also doubt that anyone who has not spent a lot of time with Japanese green teas would be able to pick up much of a difference. I would recommend this tea to those who are looking for an everyday green tea that doesn’t cost a ton or those looking for an affordable introduction to teas of this style.
Flavors: Broccoli, Butter, Grass, Hay, Lemon, Lettuce, Marine, Nuts, Seaweed, Soybean, Straw